Air & Space Museum

Republic RF-84K Thunderflash

Republic RF-84K Thunderflash

Republic modified its successful F-84 fighter into a swept-wing reconnaissance jet that could carry a variety of reconnaissance cameras behind optical glass windows in its nose.

In 1955 and 1956, the Air Force experimented with using large, long-range Convair B-36 bombers to carry small, fast RF-84K reconnaissance jets on long intercontinental missions. The bomber would release its RF-84K near enemy territory, the jet would dash in and take its photos, then rendezvous and hook onto the B-36 for the long ride home. (Air-to-air refueling was in its infancy, and the RF-84s could not make the long trips on their own.) The Strategic Air Command had 10 B-36 bombers and 25 RF-84s converted for the experimental Fighter Conveyor (FICON) program. Test flights demonstrated the FICON concept was “tactically sound”, but it was not suitable for normal operations. Even skilled test pilots had trouble hooking onto the trapeze extended below the B-36 while fighting the turbulent slipstream under the massive bomber. The testing revealed that the procedure was (just barely) feasible under ideal conditions, but would be nearly impossible at night or in poor weather. The program ended in 1956 as other solutions became more practical.

The airplane on display at Wings Over the Rockies is one of only three surviving RF-84Ks in the world. Built by Republic in September 1955 as a stock RF-84F, it was sent immediately to Beechcraft in Wichita, Kansas, for conversion into an RF-84K. Beechcraft installed the retractable hook-on equipment and the downward-angled horizontal tail that distinguished the special FICON aircraft, then performed test flights and turned the airplane over to the Air Force. In January 1956 it went to Larson AFB in Washington state and flew with the 71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing until the end of the FICON program.

The Republic RF-84K is on loan from the National Museum of the US Air Force.

Aircraft specifications:
Wingspan: 38 ft 10 in (11.9 m)
Length: 37 ft 9 in (11.5 m)
Maximum speed: 581 mph (935 km/h)
Maximum weight: 15,100 lb (6,849 kg)
Range: 1,110 mi (1,786 km)
Crew: One
Engine: Wright J65 turbojet
Thrust: 7,220 lbf (32.1 kN)

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Lowry - Denver

Air & Space Museum

Upcoming Events

Tuesday Jul 16
6:00PM TO 7:00PM
Exploration of Flight (Centennial Airport)

Wings Aerospace Exploration Parent/Family Info Night

Wings Aerospace Exploration Parent/Family Info Night
Tuesday, Jul 16, 2024 | 6:00PM to 7:00PM

Full STEAM Ahead – Immerse Your Student into Aerospace!

Join us for an informational session to learn about Wings Aerospace Exploration (WAE), a hands-on enrichment program for students in grades 6-12 from the team at Wings Over the Rockies™. This meeting will take place at Exploration of Flight at Centennial Airport (13005 Wings Way, Englewood, CO 80112).

Register Here

WAE students will have the opportunity to explore the wonders of flight, engage with industry professionals, and gain valuable skills for future careers in aerospace. The program includes building and operating RC airplanes, drones and robotics, as well as coding, rocketry and LOTS of other aviation and space related subjects. Wings Aerospace Exploration is an enrichment program and complements but does not take the place of an accredited educational institution. Click here to learn more about the program.

Wings is thrilled to announce the expansion of the WAE pathway to the Exploration of Flight campus at Centennial Airport! For this upcoming 2024/2025 school year, WAE – Centennial will be open to high school students (grades 9-12) and focus on two primary pathways – Drone Pilot Course and Private Pilot Course. Each of the pathways will prepare students to become certified by the FAA. Students in the Drone Pilot Pathway will immerse themselves in the attainment of industry certifications and will have support from at least four industry professionals as mentors, flight instructors and career coaches. The Private Pilot Pathway will provide students with the basic skills to prepare them to become Private Pilots, including flight simulators, ground school, airport operations and more.

Questions, please contact:
Program Coordinator – Nedra Hall 303.360.5360 ext 125

Saturday Jul 27
10:00AM TO 2:00PM
Exploration of Flight (Centennial Airport)

Peaked Automotive Car Show

Peaked Automotive Car Show
Saturday, Jul 27, 2024 | 10:00AM to 2:00PM

Join us for a spectacular day of automobiles on the tarmac! We are partnering with Peaked Automotive Events to display a dazzling array of cars. Come out for a great day to see a variety of vehicles up close, chat with fellow enthusiasts and enjoy delicious food.

Pre-Purchase Tickets

Food Truck: Flavor of Tabasco
*Food is not included with admission.

Saturday Aug 3
9:30AM TO 12:30PM
Exploration of Flight (Centennial Airport)

Breakfast Fly-In

Breakfast Fly-In
Saturday, Aug 3, 2024 | 9:30AM to 12:30PM

Join Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight for monthly fly-ins featuring planes, pilots, speakers and breakfast!

On the first Saturday of every month, enjoy breakfast from a local food truck, watch aircraft fly in and explore interactive exhibits and simulators.

Get Tickets Here

Pilots – Fly in for free breakfast! For tie-down space, contact or 303.360.5360 ext 160.

Food Truck: Cruz In & Eat

*Weather permitting. Aircraft on display are subject to change. 

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