Beale's static displays get a makeover
By Senior Airman Allen Pollard, 9 Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 16, 2012
BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The SR-71 Blackbird, U-2 Dragon Lady, and T-38 Talon static displays here are being restored and repainted by a Texas based company and are slated for completion March 31, 2013.
The displays needed restoration due to the elements of mother-nature.
"The sun, wind and heavy rains have all taken their toll on these static displays," said Master Sgt. Ryan Dudek 9th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance shop section chief. "Restoring these aircraft to their original beauty has been a priority of the Airmen at the aircraft structural maintenance."
The SR-71 was a high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that served the Air Force from 1964 to 1998. Since 1976, the SR-71 has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft.
The first SR-71 arrived at Beale in Jan. 1966 and stayed until it was decommissioned Jan. 26, 1990. 963 sits as the main attraction at Heritage Park here.
"I think that when people drive past the restored SR-71 they will have a strengthened sense of pride," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Todd, 9th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance shop shift lead. "Not only is the SR-71 an iconic aircraft, but it is a significant piece of Beale History."
The other two aircraft on display here are the U-2 Dragon Lady, a single-engine, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that first flew in 1955, and it remains one of the premier ISR collection platforms for the Air Force and the T-38 Talon, a twin-engine supersonic jet trainer aircraft used to train U-2 pilots.
"The aircraft that we have on display here at Beale represents, the apex of aviation technology," Todd said. "Throughout the decades, most notably the Cold war these aircraft have pushed the boundaries of aviation and have played a critical role in safeguarding our nation."
Todd said when he drives past the displays it reminds him of all the work that goes into maintaining these aircraft, and the pivotal roles they have played.
"I feel honored to be a part of the maintenance effort supporting the current mission," Todd said.