Last 3 Operational F-106s Depart Atlantic City Airport, NJ by Peter Hecht
The 119th Fighter Squadron is one of the oldest units in the United States Air Force, its origins beginning in June 1917 as the World War I 5th Aviation School Squadron at Langley Field, Virginia. In September 1917 it was re-designated as the 119th Aero Squadron. The unit was inactivated in May 1919 and reactivated in 1930 when it was reorganized as the 119th Observation Squadron, New Jersey National Guard, at Metropolitan Airport, Newark, New Jersey as an air arm of the 44th Division Aviation and received federal recognition in January 1930. In 1934, aircraft of the 119th Observation Squadron were dispatched to the scene of the "Morro Castle", a ship burning off the coast of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Many hours were spent flying over the ship and adjacent water assisting in the direction of rescue efforts and locating survivors.The 119th Observation Squadron fell victim to the "draft" on 16 September 1940, when it was inducted into active service. The unit continued as the 119th until 12 April 1948, at which time it became the 490th Fighter Squadron. The 490th was disbanded in May 1944 while still at Thomasville, Georgia.
In 1972 the 119th FS was re-designated as the 119th FIS/177th FIG Atlantic City NJ Air National Guard and transitioned from the F-105 Thunderchief to the F-106 in 1973.
The 119th assumed alert status in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1974 and flew the F-106 until 1988 when the unit transitioned into the F-16 "Fighting Falcon". They had the official Dart-out ceremony in June 1988 with static displays, F-106A 59-0044 performing fly-by demonstrations and an 8-ship fly-by.
They were the last operational FIS unit with F-106's.