May 12, the William J. “Pete” Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster, Calif., hosted a barbecue fundraiser to help fund the restoration and relocation an F-100 Super Sabre to be placed in front of the home.
The Super Sabre was donated to the home in December of last year by the Board of Directors of the East Kern Airport District for its permanent display.
The fundraiser included a barbecue and live jazz music by Marc Micisso. In addition to the money raised from the barbecue, brick pavers were being sold. The pavers, engraved with the names of the donors, will be used as decorative pieces surrounding the aircraft.
Volunteers have already begun the restoration process on the aircraft and the U.S. Air Power Museum in Fresno, Calif., has offered financial assistance for the project. CEO of the museum, William Dietzel is heading-up the project which is tentatively scheduled to be completed June 27, 2012. At that time, the Marines will supply a CH-46 helicopter to airlift the Super Sabre from the Mojave Air and Space Port to its new home on the corner of 30th Street West and Avenue I.
Upon completion, the aircraft will wear a camouflage paint scheme similar to that of the F-100 flown by State Senator William J. “Pete” Knight. The aircraft will also bear Knight’s call sign, “Lickety Split” and squadron insignia. The senator was a U.S. Air Force project test pilot for the F-100 program and flew 253 missions in the F-100 during Vietnam.
The idea was first presented in spring of 2011 when California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Rocky Chavez contacted Dietzel with the request to find the Vietnam-era jet. Dietzel had been bringing recovered aircraft to the Mojave Desert for the last 15 years, so when request was made, Dietzel knew just where to find the F-100. After months of research, it was discovered that BAE Flight Systems had donated the aircraft to the Mojave Airport 35 years prior.
“We’ve got an airplane that’s been sitting in the desert for 35 years,” said Assemblyman Steve Knight, 36th Assembly District, “and it looked like it had been sitting in the desert for 35 years and [Dietzel] is going to turn it into an airplane that looks like it’s sitting on the tarmac in Vietnam ready for take-off.”
Knight, said that the F-100 “meant a great deal” to his father which makes this project so important to him. He said that the display would be a “gem for the valley.”
According to Dietzel, the project will have cost up to $35,000 at its completion. But, the fundraiser was about more than just raising money, it was also to encourage able-bodied individuals to come out to Mojave and work on the plane. “We are looking for manpower,” said Dietzel, “we’d like to have anybody that would want to come out and turn a wrench. We would really greatly appreciate it because it’s not just [about] the money factor.”