History gets a paintjob
By Senior Airman James Hensley, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2015
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona --
A walk through Luke's air park reminds us of the legacy and the significant role Luke has played in Air Force history. Unfortunately, these static displays have been subject to years of abuse from the harsh Arizona heat and are in desperate need of a little TLC.
Restoration started on the static displays July 20 to repaint and restore the aircraft to their former glory. The aircraft on display include the AT-6 Texan, F-86F Sabre, T-33A Shooting Star, F-84F Thunderstreak, F-100C Super Sabre, F-104C Starfighter, F-4E Phantom II, F-15B Eagle and the F-16A Falcon.
"It's an Air Force instructed requirement to have the static displays kept up but there's more to it than just an AFI because these jets represent all of us," said Rick Griset, 56th Fighter Wing historian. "All of the jets on display flew at Luke training Air Force pilots. One aircraft, the F-104C Starfighter, is on display representing the German pilots who trained on them at Luke. Since the beginning, Luke has taught various foreign pilots how to fly. All the aircraft on display are owned by the National Museum of the Air Force."
There was a time when viewing these aircraft would have been difficult because the static displays were scattered across base. In 1991 the airpark was constructed to have the statics on display together. Each of the aircraft on display has a story behind them and a reason for why they are painted a certain way.
"The F-15 on display is special in its own right because it's the first operational F-15 ever," Griset said. "The thing to take away from this is these jets are a reminder of our heritage and our history. By studying the past you make better decisions for the future. I think having these jets on display gives people who visit the base a visual connection to how far we've come in air capability."
More important than the jets on display are the names on the sides of them.
"All of the names on the displays were pilots and maintainers assigned here at Luke," said Master Sgt. Mathew Hochstein, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance section chief and Air Park custodian. "We want these historic jets to be displayed the way they were meant to be."
Hochstein is looking forward to the renovations being completed and ready for public viewing.
"The repainting and restorations will take about three weeks per jet," He said. "The airpark static displays should be finished by the end of the year and ready for the air show 2016."