I stopped for a break in Hinsdale on my drive home and made a second visit to this Phantom. F-4's are fighters I remember from my youth. My dad was a big airplane fan and my brother was in the Air Force so many Labor Day weekends we made a stop at the airport to visit the air show. In those days Phantoms were a military staple and a big presence as the featured jet of the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels. These days, most people in the U.S. either don't remember or never knew these fighters. Interestingly, they were just retired after 40 years of service from the German Air Force in 2013 with a big send off.
This plane is unique for its last flight. It was brought in for a carrier deck landing after being hit and damaged in battle. The plane was on fire when the pilot put it on the deck. I can't begin to imagine what it takes to land a plane in that condition or be a part of the landing and fire crews as a burning plane touches down on an aircraft carrier. It's an amazing bit of history.