Wednesday, December 9, 2009

General McArthur’s Ride

Thanks to Alan Renga of the San Diego Air and Space Museum, I received recently some wonderful photo’s of L-17’s from their Archives. Here are two great shots of General Douglas Mc Arthur, boarding an L-17 in Korea.Notice the star plate on the cowl door(fabricated in the field). Also the “audience” standing in the back of the picture and the three tail Lockheed Constellation that has no doubt flown the general in from Japan. The amount of help the General is receiving while boarding is also interesting. The best part is the young Captain Army Aviator shown waiting patiently on the wing to get in and fly the General to the destination. Nowadays so high ranking an officer would be flown in a military Gulfstream, complete with two pilots and flight stewards. What an awesome amount of responsibility for the young Captain( would love to know his name) flying McArthur single pilot/ single engine in the combat zone. I always felt when I flew general officers there was no upside-you were expected to do well with recognition only coming if you screwed up and gave a bad ride. So our project pays tribute to the wonderful but pretty anonymous Army L-17 and its Army Aviator crews(exclusively commissioned officers in those days) who in the 1950’s flew important missions in hostile territory in virtual obscurity.


The new photos show our progress since our last report, with a superlative effort by Bob Juarez in taking the engine back down to bare metal by use of a soda blaster and carefully re-painting it with Continental Gold and Black (the engine has only 140 hrs since O/H).Mounted back on the engine are its newly overhauled generator and oil cooler. The engine basket was completely stripped, power washed and repainted. Care has been taken to correctly match original paints and even save original inspectors stamps and part numbers which have been taped over before painting on each component restoration. As we work along we continue to polish the aircraft surfaces thanks mostly to the efforts of Todd Monson from Exeter, CA who specializes in the Nuvite polish system. Military markings authentically reproduced by Moody Aero graphics(FL) and Woodway Signs(AL) both specialists in Warbird paint masks and decals are starting to bring back the mil. look of 974. Stars and Bar’s are next. Its still early but I’m starting to see that image so beautifully photographed by Bill Larkins back in 1950(see our original blog) take shape before my eyes-its what motivated me most to tackle this project. Happy Holidays, hope to be flying by spring and see everybody at the west coast Airshows- Ron Paliughi.

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