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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tap Handle #531: Anheuser-Busch - Budweiser F-16 Fighting Falcon

Tap size:  8.75"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

A future tap handle collector and museum curator.
In 1987, a young U.S. Air Force mechanic departed the United States (for the first time) and arrived in Kunsan, South Korea, a rural city hosting an Air Force base, situated on the country's southwest coast and abutting the Yellow Sea on one side and fields of kimchi on the other. Having received specialized training on the F-16 Fighting Falcon in Phoenix, Arizona prior to his assignment to Korea, he soon became a "Crew Chief" (primary mechanic) of his own F-16, despite being only 20 years of age. He went on to win "Crew Chief of the Month", and his aircraft set a record for number of sorties, which allowed him to travel with it to a competition in the Philippines, as well as to a sales demonstration in Singapore. Due to his award, he also received an "incentive flight", riding (for a single flight) in the back seat of an F-16D two-seater. When he left Korea in 1988, he would never work on F-16s again, but he still occasionally thought about his experiences and how much he enjoyed maintaining a world-class fighter jet, especially when his next assignment involved aircraft older than he was.

That young Airman was me.

I usually don't share personal experiences here on the museum's website, but in this case I feel it is warranted. It helps you understand why I love this tap so much. Produced by Budweiser and featuring an F-16 Fighting Falcon, it has been speculated that this tap was used at either Officer's Clubs on various Air Force bases or at air shows, but due to the small number I have seen, I believe they were for a special event. Although it appears to be a "toy on a stick" with Budweiser decals on the wings and the base, the actual appearance closely resembles the standard mounting method that the Air Force uses to display retired aircraft, where the aircraft is mounted to a post, at a nose-up incline (see photo to right). The tail decal shows the year and serial number; usually there are two large letters above this that indicate the aircraft's base of operation. For example, my F-16 in Korea had the letters "WP" above the serial number, indicating it was based at Kunsan. I have fond memories of working on F-16 aircraft, so I made an extra effort to acquire this tap when it became available. It is extremely rare - I think I've only seen about 2-3 others, and they have always been very expensive. Budweiser also produced a similar tap for the Navy that features a submarine, and it is even more rare than this one.

For more about Budweiser, see this post.

Click through to read more about the F-16 Fighting Falcon and to see more photos of this engaging tap...

The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multi-role aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are still being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.

The Fighting Falcon has key features including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is commonly used by its pilots, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as the Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper starfighter.

In addition to active duty U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.

Source Material

Retired F-16 photo courtesy of McChord Air Museum

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