LAON HISTORY The RF101 VooDoo This website
Prefecture of Department of the AISNE. 30 000 inhabitants. 100 miles far from PARIS, North-East, the chalky hillock of LAON, in the shape of a croissant, culminate at 240 feet and dominate the plain of Champagne that stretches itself out towards East. The "Saint Vincent Basin" was planted with vineyards up to the end of 19th century. The Laon area is a land of cultivation (wheat and sugar beet).
THE CATHEDRAL NOTRE-DAME : The erecting of the Cathedral, begun in 12th century, was achieved in 13th. This wonderful cathedral of the earliest gothic, crowned with two 180 feet high and two 156 feet high towers, is rich from many original works and shelters numerous artworks (paintings, furniture, tapestries, reliquaries ).
EPISCOPAL PALACE : Today the Law Courts, from the ancient Episcopal palace (13th - 18th centuries) one can still watch the main courtyard, the old guardroom and the bishop's main building, the eastern wing rebuilt in 18th century, the southern wing and the courtyard of the "Glacière".
SAINT MARTIN CHURCH : The old abbey was built in several steps, from the middle of the 12th century to the 14th century. Inside the surrounding walls of the Saint Martin Abbey (17th et 18th centuries), are now the Hospital and the municipal Library.
SAINT VINCENT ABBEY : Actually arsenal, there's still from the ancient Saint Vincent Abbey the abbot's building (18th century), the cellars and storerooms, the fortified surrounding walls and a terrace garden.
TEMPLIERS' CHAPEL : In the courtyard of the actual municipal museum, the old octogonal Templiers' Chapel (12th century), is one of the sites to visit in Laon.
RAMPARTS : The erecting of the ramparts of LAON, from roman era to the 18th century, gave the high town its present figure and its name of "Crowned Mountain".
Touring the ramparts, one can admire the
"Gate of Soissons and the Inclined Tower", the "Chenizelles' Gate",
the "Ardon"s Gate" (13th century), the citadel of Henri IV, and
the ancient Episcopal palace.
The RF101 VooDoo
Unarmed & Unafraid
The RF 101 first gained prominence during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, but it was in North Vietnam that it got its true baptism of fire. Voodoo pilots were routinely tasked to fly their aircraft into "Pack Six", the area surrounding Hanoi, to search out enemy activity and obtain post strike photography as needed. Pack Six has been described, as the most heavily defended area in the history of aerial warfare and to fly an unarmed aircraft into it required an extra measure of dedication.
The RF 101 proved to be a rugged bird, which could sustain extensive damage, nonetheless, it suffered a loss rate similar to that of the strike aircraft and despite their small numbers, 39 were shot down during the course of the war.
The Voodoo was retired from service in 1971, after a 14 year career, but her pilots fondly remember her as an honest, reliable aircraft which was a pleasure to fly.
The F-101 lineage included several versions: low-altitude fighter-bomber, photo reconnaissance, two-seat interceptor and transition trainer. To accelerate production, no prototypes were built, the first Voodoo, an F-101A, made its initial flight on September 29, 1954. When production ended in March 1961, nearly 800 Voodoos had been built. Development of the unarmed RF-101, the world's first supersonic photo-recon aircraft, began in 1956 while 35 RF-101As and 166 RF-101Cs were produced, many earlier single-seat Voodoos were converted to the reconnaissance configuration.
The RF-101C on display participated in "Operation Sun Run," a high-speed transcontinental flight on November 26, 1957. Using air-to-air refueling, a team of Voodoos set nonstop speed records from Los Angeles to New York City and return. Capt Ray W. Schrecengost, flying the plane on display, broke three existing speed records. This Voodoo flew vital low-altitude reconnaissance during the Cuban Missile Crisis and helped confirm that offensive missile sites in Cuba were being dismantled.
It also served in Southeast Asia (SEA) with the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, one of the first aircraft in SEA to revert to camouflage markings for combat use. It was transferred from the 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Mississippi Air National Guard, Key Field, Mississippi, to the USAF Museum on October 27, 1978.
Span: 39 ft. 8 in.
Maximum speed: 1,000 mph.
On July 4th 2001,
LAONAFB.COM became a reality for the first time thanks
to Tom LASETER.
Bernard H. CROZA.
Many of the photos you can enjoy
while visiting this website have been given us by several of you. Many
thanks to all those who thus have helped us making this website attractive.
Again, MANY THANKS, Don !
Jerry McAuliffe published the
book we were waiting for, all dedicated to the USAF bases in France