After spending decades thinking about airplanes, it has been a long time since I could say what plane is my favorite. There are too many different ways to answer that question. Still, there are some planes whose lines are so simple and perfect and clear and timeless that I cannot help but think of them, collectively, as my favorites. To qualify in this league, a plane has to look like something a boy would doodle in middle school study hall – it’s all aesthetic and no aerodynamics. This rule is highly personal and subjective, and I will be quick to admit others would choose differently. Having said that, some of my contenders in this category are the Vought F8U Crusader, the Lockheed F-90, the D-558-II Skyrocket, the Hawker Hunter, the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, and the Dassault Mirage F1.
Oddly, the delta-winged Mirages do not appeal to me very much (although I did see a Mirage IV years ago that really took my breath away). I am not sure if it is parochial nationalism or some other reason, but the Mirage deltas have simply never appealed to me viscerally. Not true of their swept-wing stablemate, the F1. First flown in 1967, with over 700 manufactured, the F1 has always struck me as one of the most elegant planes found anywhere in the world.
A flight of them recently attended a USAF Green Flag exercise at Nellis AFB in Nevada. They crossed the Atlantic with the assistance of an RAF TriStar tanker, and in that tanker was a Flickr photographer who documented their crossing in gorgeous detail. I am assuming, from his username, that Andy is in the RAF, but for whatever reason he was on that plane, I am grateful. His 44 shots in the set are terrific – choosing just two was difficult. I encourage you to check them all out for yourself.
If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.