Brigadier General Edward Cherry, USAF
General Cherry was born in Youngstown, OH, on March 4, 1939 and moved to Bowling Green, KY as an infant. He and his family lived here until his father Henry Hardin Cherry Jr., began his career as an aeronautical engineer after serving in World War II. This required the family to live in many places, usually near airports, which resulted in Cherry's early interest in aviation. He graduated from South Cobb High School in Austell, GA, Florida Southern College, and received a Master's Degree from the University of Southern California.
Cherry joined the United States Air Force as an Aviation Cadet in 1959 and completed his service in 1988, retiring as a Brigadier General. He flew 295 combat missions during the Vietnam War and held the positions of Commander/Leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds; Commander of Moody Air Force Base, GA; Inspector General of the Pacific Air Forces; Commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing; and Commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service. Cherry accumulated over 4,000 hours of flying time and earned several military awards and decorations including: the Distinguished Flying Metal; the Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster; the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters; the Distinguished Flying Cross with nine oak leaf clusters; and the Air Medal with 34 oak leaf clusters. Cherry served in state government as Secretary of the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and was inducted into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame October 2000.
McDonnell Douglas F-4D — SN 66-7550
On April 16, 1972 Cherry and his Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) Jeff Feinstein were flying this aircraft, F-4D #66-7550, as number three in a flight of four F-4D's on a combat air patrol mission over North Vietnam. After an intense five minutes dogfight, Cherry and Feinstein scored their first kill. It was a camouflaged MiG-21 flown by Lieutenant Nguyen Hong My, who survived the crash and the war, and was later the guest of honor on April 16, 2009 when Aviation Heritage Park was formally opened to the public. The incredible story is chronicled in Cherry's book, My Enemy—My Friend
. Phantom 550 was manufactured in 1967 and completed her service in 1989 after accumulating over 6,000 flying hours. She was acquired by Aviation Heritage Park in December 2005, restored to her original colors and put on display in October 2008.
The USAF credited F-4 crews with 44 MiG kills over Southeast Asia, more than any other type of aircraft. Phantom II production ended in 1979 after more than 5000 had been built.
This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Crew: 2 (pilot and weapons system officer)
Length: 58 ft 2 in
Wingspan: 38 ft 5 in
Height: 16 ft 6 in
Powerplant: 2 x General Electric J79 turbojets
Empty: 30,328 lb
Max take-off weight: 61,795 lb
Max Speed: Mach 2.23 at altitude
Cruise speed: 585 mph
Range: 1,615 miles with 3 external fuel tanks
AIM 7 Sparrow
AIM 9 Sidewinder
General Purpose Bombs