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Behind the Wings ®
The Podcast – S4, Episode 35

Today, in celebration of National Volunteer Month, we are excited to speak with Wings Over the Rockies volunteer, Phil Mentesana.

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Phil shares personal stories about his time as an Electronic Warfare Officer on the B-52, flying the F-4 in Vietnam, and his time as a captain for United Airlines. Phil has many firsts in his career including being a part of the first B-52 missions to engage in combat during Operation Arc Light in Vietnam, leading Operation Linebacker I in the F-4, and so much more. This one is going to be cool!

Phil Mentesana
Key Takeaways:
  • Phil wanted to be a pilot but elected to go to Navigation training first, earning a spot as an Electronic Warfare Officer onboard the B-52 Stratofortress.
  • While stationed on the B-52, he was a part of the first B-52 combat missions in Vietnam, flying in Operation Arc Light. On the first mission, two B-52s collided in the middle of a storm when trying to refuel.
  • Phil finally got his chance to fly when he was reaching the age limit for pilot training. After training, his fighter pick was the F-4 Phantom.
  • Phil went back to combat in Vietnam, this time flying the F-4. While there, he led the F-4 squadrons in Operation Linebacker I and had 14 SAMs shot at him in less than 15 minutes.
  • After he retired from the Air Force, he went on to pilot for United Airlines. He flew every plane model they had at the time.
  • Phil came to volunteer at Wings Over the Rockies to give back to the aviation career that treated him so well.
Resources:
Behind the Wings Season 4

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Behind the Wings Season 4

Peek into the cockpits of rare warbirds and spacecraft, hear from aerospace experts and more in our episodic documentary series!

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