West Covina, California: Playground Sabre Jet Fighter

F-86D Sabre Jet redeployed as a playground fighter.

Palm View Park

Puente Ave., West Covina, CA
Corner of Puente and Lark Ellen in Palm View Park.
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View of playground jet.

Playground Sabre Jet Fighter

On the playground of Palm View Park in West Covina, California, there is a swept-wing jet that local children have been enjoying for many years. I myself flew many imaginary missions there as a child in the 1960s. It wasn't until many years later that I realized that this was an actual aircraft -- the F-86D Sabre Jet!

The F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing jet fighter. It carried a single pilot and was designed by North American Aviation of Inglewood, California. The F-86D was an all-weather interceptor version of the famous F-86A. The F-86A demonstrated its superiority over the MiG 15 during the Korean War. For much of the 1950s, the F-86D was the backbone of United States mainland defense.

The Sabre at Palm View Park is a F-86D-40-NA Sabre. It is serial number 52-3784. West Covina's F-86D Sabre currently has the tail number 6303 painted on it. The original tail number was 23784 -- along with FU-784 near the nose.

In early 1961, the West Covina Junior Jaycees were planning several improvements to Palm View Park. They received a generous offer from North American Aviation of manpower and equipment to transport the F-86D Sabre from Ontario, California, where it had enjoyed a second career with the Air National Guard. Arriving at West Covina, it was presented to the city by the United States Air Force and the Jaycees. The Jaycees cut through substantial red tape in obtaining the plane and securing the proper permits and permission to place it in the park.

The City of West Covina is required to send 35mm photos to the Aircraft Disposition Office at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona on a yearly basis to "ensure the condition of the static display properly represents the United States Air Force."

[Frank J. Leskovitz, 08/13/2001]

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September 25, 2020

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