Thanks to the help of numerous volunteers, the Air Force Flight Test Museum recently relocated their storage and restoration facility from Hangar 1210, located behind the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, to Hangar 1864, located near the F-22 Combined Test Facility.
In less than one week, museum volunteers moved several aircraft including an X-4 Bantam, P-80 Shooting Star, F-117 Nighthawk, F-15 Eagle, and the first two-seat F-16 Falcon. In addition to the aircraft, the museum also relocated a full-scale X-15 mockup recently acquired from the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.
“We were advised about a week ago that we would be moving from Hangar 1210 and the relocation effort has been a relatively smooth process thanks to all the ongoing restoration efforts of the volunteers. We were prepared to make this move quickly and efficiently. We’re grateful for Hangar 1864, it will be a great benefit to the museum,” said George Welsh, Air Force Flight Test Museum curator.
The recent relocation effort would not have been possible without the hard work of an eight-person restoration crew that spends approximately one week a month, about eight months out of the year, preserving the museum’s assets.
“Typically while we’re here, we spend most of our time fixing and restoring airplanes. This week, we moved everything to the new hangar. We have some growth issues, but with a little creativity, we’re going to have a great work area. It’s great because there is a long line of airplanes waiting to be restored,” said Mike Glenn, a retired Navy master chief and volunteer.
The new facility, which is a fully-functioning hangar; better equips staff and volunteers with the infrastructure and resources to care for the wide variety of museum assets ranging from a T-38 Talon to a J-58, the engine that propelled the SR-71 to altitudes above 80,000 ft. and speeds greater than Mach 3.
Now that the museum has the resources and space, the only thing left is for volunteers to help restore the aircrafts for the thousands of visitors that stop by the museum each year.
“There are airplanes backed up that need to be fixed. The F-15 is one example of an aircraft waiting for volunteers to get started. Since volunteers have already expressed interest, we moved the aircraft into a position making it much more accessible for them to get started. But that’s only one of the aircraft, we’re always looking for more volunteers to help,” said Glenn.
For the museum, the relocation of their storage and restoration facility, means they can finally began establishing a long-term plan for preparing museum assets and restoring aircraft for display outside the guard gate – the museum’s ultimate goal.
“Not only does this allow us to consolidate our aircraft and tools, but this facility is now ours and we can set it up to make the most out of our volunteers’ support,” said Welsh.
“This helps us preserve these aircraft which are deteriorating,” he continued. “The aircraft are currently scattered across the base and as they come through the hangar they can get a cosmetic restoration, we can send them to the corrosion and paint facility before finally putting them on display for the public.”
Members of the Edwards community who would like to volunteer to help restore these historic aircraft can call (661) 277-8050.