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

Saturday Apr 8
9:30AM TO 1:00PM
Exploration of Flight

Private Pilot Ground School Begins

Saturday, Apr 8 | 9:30AM to 1:00PM

Saturdays 4/8/23 – 5/27/23
9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

This 8-week Ground School will cover the subject areas of the FAA Private Pilot Aeronautical Knowledge Exam. 

This course is taught by Certified Instructors, and materials are included! Classroom ground instruction offers a great way to start training as efficiently and economically as possible, providing a significant cost savings versus one-on-one lessons.


Topics include:

  • Aircraft Systems
  • Aerodynamics
  • Airports and Airspace
  • Flight Physiology
  • Performance Calculations
  • Navigation
  • And More!


Non-Member | $350.00 per registrant

Member | $300.00 per registrant


Next Class: On Saturdays from April 8th to May 27th, 9:30am – 1:00pm

This class is currently being reserved for Flight Training Scholarship applicants. Remaining seats will be sold at a later date. To join the waitlist, please click here.


Please Note:

Students should bring a notebook and/or a personal device for notetaking.

Participants must be 14 years or older.

Saturday Apr 8
9:30AM TO 12:30PM
Exploration of Flight

Breakfast Fly-In

Breakfast Fly-In
Saturday, Apr 8 | 9:30AM to 12:30PM

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

Spend Saturday* morning watching aircraft fly in, enjoy breakfast from a local food truck and explore interactive exhibits and simulators.

Purchase Tickets

*Please note that this event is taking place on the 2nd Saturday of the month instead of the 1st Saturday.

Food Truck: Bruncholero
Please note: Food purchases are not included in admission.

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

*Weather permitting

Saturday Apr 8
10:00AM TO 2:00PM
Air & Space Museum

Cockpit Demo Day

Cockpit Demo Day
Saturday, Apr 8 | 10:00AM to 2:00PM

Get an up close look inside select aircraft at the museum and learn all about the history of the aircraft, instruments and controls!

Featured Aircraft in April:

  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 MLD
  • LTV A-7D Corsair II
  • Alexander Eaglerock
  • Cessna U-3A (Wheelchair accessible)
  • Bede BD-5 (Wheelchair accessible)

Purchase Tickets

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