Friday, October 30, 2009

The Work Continues Here In Bellingham

It's been a few days since we posted anything, but rest assured that the maintenance crew hasn't taken much of a break since they got back from Montana!

They had a couple of days to catch up on some much-needed sleep while the fuselage and wings made their way here, and as the previous entries photos show, they did in fact make it in one piece... albeit on two different trailers! In the time since the major parts arrived, shrouded in the early morning mists, the fuselage, wings and horizontal stabilizer have been removed from the trailers and stored in the main maintenance hangar and the auxiliary storage hangar.

For those of us awaiting the arrival of the aircraft and her dis-assembly team, it's really pretty exciting to have them all finally back here! The fuselage alone is massive, just barely fitting into the maintenance hangar. Volunteers have been busy cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and removing various instrumentation for further cleaning, and otherwise prepping the aircraft for getting it's wings back next week.

At this very moment, the starboard wing is sharing the hangar space with it's old pal the fuselage - safely suspended on it's own cradle - while an army of volunteers drop the main gear out of the wings and replace the old, cracked, worn out tires. With this done, all the major parts are just about ready to be reunited. That monumental task will take place next week with the assistance of an 85 TON crane!

Amazingly, the nose gear have been pumped up, continue to hold air, and are looking to be in not bad shape... which is good since we'll need a bigger jack to change out those tires once the wings are back in place.

Despite being squirreled away in miscellaneous hangars, the F89 has garnered a lot of attention from the local airport community with folks constantly dropping by to marvel at it. One of our old tower controllers, the fantastic Jimmy Wright, cropped up out of Oregon earlier this week and shared with us many a story about the time he spent as an RO in the back seat of the F89!

And today we received some fantastic mail in the form of a letter and collection of photos from Col. Bob Gruenhagen who not only worked on P-51's in Keflavik, Iceland (represented in the paint scheme worn by our P-51 Mustang) but also worked on F-89's! In fact, not just ANY F-89's but the very one's at Montana where ours came from! And that's not all, he actually knew our airplane and sent us some fantastic photos from it's grander, more airworthy days! Such a treat!! Col. Gruenhagen - we know you follow this blog, so consider this fair warning that we WILL be getting a hold of you!

From F-89J Restoration Project

That's about it for now... we're hoping to have the aircraft back 'on it's feet' in time for our Museum's big Veteran's Day celebration, with an official welcome reception closer to our November Fly Day on the 21st.

Stay tuned, there's more to come... [KS]

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