California Capital Evening Airshow | MATHER AIRPORT, SACRAMENTO

July 13 & 14, 2024

Italy's Frecce Tricolori & USAF Thunderbirds

Tribute to Korean War’s MiG Alley

Experience a ‘Planes of Fame’ F-86 Sabre & MiG 15 Dogfight

The Korean war began on June 25, 1950, when 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, the newly independent United States Air Force had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf, it was the first-time U.S. jet aircraft entered into battle. As far as American officials were concerned, it was a war against the forces of international communism itself.

First-Known Aerial Combat Between Swept-Wing Jet Fighters

On December 17, 1950, the first known aerial combat between swept-wing jet fighters took place in the skies over Korea. The Russian-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 had been introduced to the Korean conflict in November, its speed and maneuverability causing trouble for the United States’ fleet of B-29 bombers and escorts. The North American F-86 Sabre was rushed to Korea, setting the stage for a clash in the air.

It was a battle much more for the prestige of the nations engaged–and the reputation of their respective aerospace industries–and for the glory of the fighter pilots involved than for its effect on the conduct or the outcome of the conflict,” write authors Douglas Dildy and Warren Thompson in F-86 Sabre vs MiG-15: Korea 1950-53 by Osprey Publishing.

What is MiG Alley?

“MiG Alley” was the name given by United Nations pilots during the Korean War to the northwestern portion of North Korea, where the Yalu River empties into the Yellow Sea. It was the site of numerous dogfights between United Nations fighter pilots and their opponents from North Korea (including some unofficially crewed by Soviet airmen) and the People’s Republic of China.

The ‘Forgotten War’ Comes to an End

Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives in what many in the U.S. refer to as “the Forgotten War” for the lack of attention it received compared to more well-known conflicts like World War I and II and the Vietnam War.

Don’t miss seeing this memorable dogfight at Mather Airport this September 30-October 2!

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1: MiG Alley – Wikipedia
2: F-86s and MiGs over Korea | National Air and Space Museum (si.edu)
3: MiG Alley: Inside the Air Force Dogfights of the Korean War | The National Interest

Photo Credit: Allen Hess

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