You never know what will pass by on Highway 58
August 5, 2023
I had a heads up message on the internet by a friend from the racetrack that a very famous F-4S Phantom II fighter jet was on the side of Highway 58, just east of the Bakersfield Memorial Cemetery off-ramp.
Yes, it was a famous F-4S Phantom II! It was originally based at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station in the Test Air Wing VX-4 in California. It was being hauled up on a low bed truck to the Castle Air Museum for some restoration and to be displayed in the museum.
The crew was just taking a needed rest. I got to talk with the founder of Boneyard Safari, Ramon Purcell, who was keeping a eye on the jet.
Ramon told me the jet was only 22,000 pounds without the two J-79 jet engines. The Phantom still had the ejection seats in the aircraft, which were safe and disarmed. I noticed the wing tip bomb racks were gone, too.
This famous McDonnell Douglas F-4S Phantom II tail number 5539 is also known as the Black Bunny or the Playboy Bunny Phantom. It was moved to storage in Arizona in May of 1986.
I was also told this aircraft was scale modeled by many aviation fans in the '80s. I think its fantastic that this F-4 Phantom II fighter jet is getting a new home where all the world can see, enjoy and maybe inspire some kids to get into aviation and become a pilot someday.