51st MXS restores F-86
By Senior Master Sgt. Beverly Delashmit, 51st Maintenance Squadron
/ Published March 28, 2008
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The men and women of 51st Maintenance Squadron's Aircraft Structural Maintenance section were recently tasked to restore one of Osan's windows into the past - a static display of an F-86 Sabre aircraft.
The project began with the removing years of weathered paint, coatings and distinctive markings, entailing more than 100 man hours of hard work.
Extreme care had to be taken with the 58-year old aircraft to prevent damage to the original metal structure. Once the old coatings were removed, the process of researching historically accurate markings began.
After careful research and coordination with the John Okonski, 51st Fighter Wing historian, 51st MXS structural experts hand crafted stencils to match the original 1951 aircraft identification and checkertail design.
"I love to paint aircraft," said Senior Airman Paul Cotrill, 51st MXS. "Bringing this historic checkertail F-86 back to life was an awesome experience."
Next, the aircraft was prepared for top coating. Technicians applied a weather-resistant polyurethane coating designed to protect this historic aircraft from the elements for years to come.
Finally, the F-86 was ready to receive the famous 51st "Mustang" checkertail design on the rudder.
Because only the most experienced technicians are entrusted to apply the checkertail design, the care and attention to detail is easily seen in the spectacular restoration.
The aircraft will be displayed in front of base operations, where it will be the first sight visitors to Osan will see.
The dedicated aircraft structural technicians from the 51st MXS stepped up to the challenge and proudly did their part in restoring this important piece of Air Force history, leaving a lasting legacy for those who follow.
F-86 restoration crew aircraft structural technicians:
-- Tech. Sgt. Douglas Beals
-- Staff Sgt. Robert Jones
-- Senior Airman Lisa Caluag
-- Senior Airman Yeleen Neeley
-- Senior Airman Paul Cotrill
-- Senior Airman Travis Weaver
-- Senior Airman Johnetta Gray
-- Senior Airman William Crew