Emblem of the Mosquitos.
in Vietnam as an airborne FAC, pi- loting Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs and O- 2 Skymasters from 1967 to 1968.
“I started flying in the Delta, ended up at Da Nang, and volun- teered to fly support at Khe Sanh during the siege,” Lannon said dur- ing an interview at EAA AirVen- ture Oshkosh 2004. “The job was a lot like what the Mosquitos did, coordinating positions and targets with the ground troops, marking the targets with white phosphorus rockets, and then directing the fast- movers in.”
Lannon said that since he flew before the enemy began using heat-seeking missiles, he flew most missions in daylight at 1,500 feet. However, unlike the Mosquitoes, who always used a backseat ob- server to overcome the deficiency of flying a low-winged aircraft, Lannon generally flew alone un- less he had to fly an Army artillery observer or was assigned a night- time mission.
“During support of Khe Sanh, they occasionally put me on the night shift,” Lannon said. “The star- light scope was the only thing we had for night vision, and it was still in the early stages of development with a pretty terrible field of view.
Nose art from the original Triple Nickel has been recreated on Lannon and Dietes’ T-6 with the American flag, three nickels, and the famous Mosquito.
You needed a second person to handle the starlight scope. The good thing was that at night [the enemy] would always shoot at the sound of the airplane, and so they were always shooting behind you.”
Lannon said an- other difference be- tween flying airborne FAC during Vietnam was that there was no front line like in Korea. While the Mosquitoes c o n s t a n tly m o ve d with the front, the airborne FACs in Viet- nam were launched from relatively stable bases. Although a pi- lot may move from base to base per new assignments, the en- tire squadron did not constantly move. Having served as an FAC in Vietnam, piloting Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs and O-2 Skymasters from 1967 to 1968, Grant Lannon knew the difficulties FACs faced firsthand, thus his dedication to the restoration of the ex-SAAF T-6 to a pair of Korean War FACs shot down by the enemy. After his tour in Vietnam, Lannon spent an additional 12 years in the Air Force, piloting KC-135 tankers for the Strategic Air Command, working as an en- gineer on the Rockwell B-1A pro- gram, and flying C-131 electronic warfare test platforms at Wright-