185th crash recovery team dethrones F-100 for cleaning and painting

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

Members of the 185th Air Refueling Wing Crash Damage Deposit Recovery team recently recovered a Vietnam War era F-100 Super Sabre from its pedestal at the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City, where the aircraft had been on static display.

The old bird was on its perch for nearly 20 years and had gotten weathered to the point needing to be cleaned and painted.

One of the crash recovery team members who was helping to get the F-100 back on the ground is Technical Sgt. Kevin Brown. On a typical day Brown can be found working on the unit’s KC-135s as part of 185th ARW Repair and Reclamation Shop. When it was time lower the F-100, Brown and two dozen others from the 185th Maintenance Group were pulled from their regular jobs to help land the old fighter. Brown said the recovery team is made of a broad cross section form nearly every aircraft maintenance shop.

“Usually we have two people for every shop. Because you want a little bit of expertise from everyone,” Brown said, when talking about the members of the recovery team.

According to Brown 185th ARW members train as part of the CDDR or “SeeDar” team as an extra duty. He said team members are required to train annually in order to stay familiar with the equipment and process that are part of recovering a downed aircraft. Brown said taking the F-100 down presented a perfect opportunity to incorporate training requirements as part of the project of lowering the aircraft.

Maintainers from the 185th have a good understanding of older aircraft like the unit’s KC-135. Tearing into the 1950’s era F-100 was unique this time around however, because it was a first for all involved.

The last F-100 flown by the Iowa Air Guard in Sioux City was on July 1, 1977.  When the F-100 was hoisted to its current place of honor in 2002 there were still a few old guys who had firsthand experience with the old jet.

“Even with all the new people, everyone worked really well,” Brown added. “Everyone had a positive attitude and wanted to get the job done.”

Brown spent most of the day in the basket of a JLG lift wrestling with the giant fastener that held the aircraft in place. The rest of the SeeDar team prepared the large pneumatic lifting bags where the aircraft was temporarily rested once it was on the ground.

Using the bags that are part of the aircraft crash equipment kit allowed the crane operator to set the aircraft on a firm foundation where the rest of the team was then able lower the landing gear.

Brown said lowering the 60 year old aircraft on the large air bags made the job of putting it on the ground safer for the aircraft and safer for the Airmen on the ground.

After the landing gear was lowered, the Super Sabre could then be towed to the main hangar where it will be cleaned and prepared for painting. The next stop will be moving the F-100 across the runway to the Air National Guard Paint Facility where new paint will be applied.

Brown said when the aircraft was mounted in December of 2002 the thought was that the aircraft could be maintained and painted while in place. He said changing rules and environmental laws dictated the aircraft be taken down and painted in a controlled environment.

Brown added that if everything goes as planned they hope to put the F-100 back on display by spring of 2022.

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