1959Grand Junction, CO -The Air National Guard’s only official precision flying team known as the Minute Men, flew their last performance. Starting with the Lockheed F-80C's Shooting Stars in 1953, the team performed to crowds estimated to have totaled 3 million people in 47 states and five foreign countries. The team consisted of pilots and ground crewmen assigned to the 120th Fighter Squadron, Colorado Air Guard.
Originally, the Minute Men was started by pilots of the 120th Fighter Squadron flying for local air shows in Denver. When officials at the National Guard Bureau learned of the unit and saw its precision flying (much like that of the Air Force's Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels) they endorsed it as a public relations activity, funneling money and equipment to the unit. It traveled across the nation putting on shows and sparking interest in the Air National Guard.
In 1958 the team received F-86F Sabre, which allowed them to perform such intricate maneuvers as the "corkscrew roll". The team flew hundreds of shows with only one mishap. On 8 June 1958, while performing a "bomb burst" maneuver at Dayton, Ohio, Captain John Ferrier's plane developed an aileron problem. Rather than ejecting to save himself, he rode the plane into a small unoccupied area in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While he was killed no one on the ground was injured. He was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross. The high point for the team came in 1959 when it visited five Central American countries as ‘good will ambassadors' performing shows for huge crowds.
When the 120th was mobilized in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam, many of its pilots were former members of the Minute Men and proved their skill was just as keen in dropping bombs as it was in performing intricate aerial tricks.