The 117th Early Years

Once it had been decided to open a new Air Guard unit in Kansas, aircraft had to be decided upon. The 117th, having descended from a fighter interceptor squadron based in Pennsylvania, would remain a fighter squadron. The first Aircraft assigned was the F-80 "Shooting Star," though this would prove to be short lived. In February 1958 the First "Shooting Stars" arrived. The unit would only be in them for a few months. From the beginning they had been regarded as transitional aircraft. Initially, the intention had been to replace them with F-84s, but the runway at Hutchinson was a little short for that. Then the 117th was slated for F-86D's, which would make use of the Air Force radar detachment already at the base. Major Boggs was at the Pentagon, discussing the changes needed for the conversion (spare parts, man-hours, schools for his pilots, and mechanics) when General Winston P. (Wimpy) Wilson, a personal acquaintance, came by, and the dialog went something like this:

Wilson : "Well, Curly, how do you think you'll like these B-57 Canberra 's?"
Boggs: "What about them?"
Wilson : "That's what you'll get for new equipment."
Boggs: "#@%&!!! I can't even spell it"

In April 1958, the first of the new aircraft arrived. The new airplanes brought a new name and a new assignment. The 117th, now assigned to the Continental Air Command, was the 117th Photo-Reconnaissance Squadron. The primary mission was now bomb damage survey and photoreconnaissance in event of an enemy attack, with a secondary mission of photo mapping and radar calibration. These airplanes would also be short lived, by July 1958, word came down that the 117th would be receiving RB-57A's, a special photo-reconnaissance modification. The first of them would arrive in August 1958, they would remain with the 117th for the next 14 years.