Doc Takes Flight in F-4 Phantom

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matt Benedetti
  • 104th Fighter Wing
Major Joseph Keenan, a flight surgeon with the medical group at Barnes, had the opportunity to fly an F-4 Phantom during an hour long incentive ride at the WSEP deployment at Tyndall AFB.

For the accomplished Keenan, the ride is another landmark in his remarkable Guard journey. Dr Keenan joined the 104th later in life and has tackled each obstacle with vigor and determination. As a licensed pilot, he was thrilled to fly the Phantom for the first time, the mainstay of US airpower in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

"It was a smooth flight, the F-4 is a real classic plane," he said. "Flying it and rolling it was a thrill, just magical." He hit supersonic at about 4000 ft and dove down at about 1.5 mach. "When the afterburners kick in you really feel it," he recalled. "It's kind of like a gentle giant, feels so much bigger than the F-15, so much power but gentle," he said.
Keenan noticed the distinction between the Eagle and the Phantom. "It seemed like the control actions seemed softer on it and responded in a different way. It has the Martin Baker ejection seat, legs and calves tied in-you felt like you were stepping into a piece of history," he said. Having read about the Vietnam War, Keenan was excited to fly in a plane that was such a critical part of Air Force history. "The Phantom was the number one plane and its similar to driving Rolls Royce from 1929."

"I am amazed by the technology of the 1960s. It was actually flying a piece of history," he said.

Doctor Keenan is a Westfield resident who has been practicing medicine in the Westfield area for decades. As one of the flight surgeons at Barnes, he is critical part of the Wing's team, ensuring the pilots are prepared to endure the rigors of combat flight.