A legendary fighter plane may find a new home in East Texas, in a place you might not expect.
And, It was a legendary plane indeed. The F-100 Super Sabre came from the same company that built the Mustang and F-86.
But this plane was unique. In its day, it was the fastest fighter in the world.
The Flight of the Phoenix wasn’t just a good movie, it’s the name of a museum in Gilmer that is the brainchild of former Air Force pilot and businessman Steve Dean.
“We started the museum actively in 1994,” Dean says. “The idea came in thinking about Col. Fox Stevens, who was from Gilmer and the head test pilot for the Blackbird, the SR-71. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t forget about him and kept his memory alive for the kids here in Gilmer and East Texas, so that’s my motivation to have a museum.”
He is off to a good start with a small collection, including his own 1930’s vintage T-6 Texan trainer, and a beautiful restored Piper J3 Cub. But his dream is to become the home of the Super Sabre.
The F-100 was the world’s first fighter to go supersonic in level flight. The Super Sabre entered service in 1954 as an air superiority fighter.
It evolved to the point where it was a low level bomber in Viet Nam.
And retired Colonel Rex Morris flew them in combat.
“Well, it was one of the best airplanes I ever flew, for a fighter. It was interesting,” Morris says.
And soon, the Super Sabre Society will make its headquarters right here in East Texas.
“The society would like us to have at least four of the airplanes here,” Dean told us, “and we’ve been very fortunate that the Mayor, Buck Cross, is a military veteran and he has the love for keeping that patriotic memory alive here in the city and the community so we’re fortunate that we do have the city’s support.”
Dean says he has found two Sabres for the museum, and is looking for two more. The mayor told us, it will be just the kind of attraction a small town needs.
That’s why the city is cooperating in the project.