09/01/14 — Getting back in shape

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Getting back in shape

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on September 1, 2014 1:46 PM

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Senior Airman Matthew Bowman patches damaged areas during the second phase of an F-86 restoration project. Once work on the aircraft is completed by airmen on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the jet will be displayed in the roundabout downtown.

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The F-86 will return downtown later this year.

A familiar piece of Goldsboro history is well on its way to being back in the public eye.

A decommissioned F-86, which was previously located in front of the Goldsboro Fire Department, is in its second phase of restoration on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

4th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group Senior Airman Matthew Bowman said the second phase focuses on correcting aesthetic blemishes and ensuring structural integrity for when the plane is mounted on Center Street.

"We're blending out the paint and sanding it down," Bowman said. "Then we're trying to make it as strong as possible."

He said the F-86 is made of different intensities of aluminum, and that they are working to find the weakest spots to replace them with stronger material.

The plane is being worked on in the airmen's spare time, as Bowman said jets that are currently in use take priority over the restoration.

This is the third time the plane has been restored since being loaned to the City of Goldsboro in 1970, Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Dupree said.

"I know that F-86's were used in the Korean war," Dupree said. "If I'm remembering correctly -- and I think this record still stands -- the 4th Fighter Wing recorded the most Russian MIG kills with F-86s."

Bowman said the second phase of restoration should be completed in September -- and that the final phase is moving the aircraft into the paint facility to be given a fresh coat.

The F-86 was loaned to the city in 1970 by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base before being restored in 1986 and then moved to the police and fire complex downtown.

Dupree said the city has told the base it is working to clear some legal hurdles in terms of the placement of the aircraft, but that they should be clear within two months.

Bowman said they are hoping to place the plane back in the city before winter.

"This is a military friendly town," Bowman said. "Having this downtown brings it back to its roots."