The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was one of the most impressive fighter jets ever used by the United States military. Officially in service for more than 50 years, the F-4 was an integral aircraft in every deployment from Vietnam to Operation Desert Storm and beyond. Early on during development, the Navy even achieved a number of flight records with the prototype F-4 to show off its capabilities.
Today, the F-4 sees limited use, but fans of the aircraft can often see it perform in air shows around the world. Check out a pair of F-4 aircraft performing at an airshow in Wisconsin in the video below:
The clip features a high-quality cockpit view of the F-4 starting from takeoff. The two aircraft make the slow crawl down the runway side by side before picking up speed and leaving the ground. The highly skilled pilots fly within just a few feet of one another as they take a high bank turn over a body of water.
With a quick turnaround, the fighter jets circle back towards the runway where spectators can watch them fly by. The pilots perform a number of passes just a few hundred feet off the ground.
Towards the end of the clip, the F-4 Phantoms increase their altitude as they fly back to their home base. The cockpit view offers a glimpse not often seen with the aircraft flying high above the clouds at tens of thousands of feet.
The F-4 was recently retired from combat use in 1996, but continued to be used as a drone until it was ultimately retired in 2016. The former official interceptor of all the three major military aviation branches was bid a proper farewell in a ceremony on Dec. 21, 2016. However, a number of F-4 fighter jets will continue to be utilized for training, performances, and other uses.
The aircraft held nearly every possible world record for transoceanic supersonic jets during its prime – 16 in total. From speed and altitude climb records to transcontinental flights completed quicker than ever before, the F-4 was truly the most capable aircraft the military had ever seen.
The Phantom II was so incredibly impressive and adaptable that it was not only the official air superiority jet of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force at the same time, but also of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds air show squadrons simultaneously.
While the F-4 was been replaced by a number of more modern fighter jets, it certainly etched its place in history.