Yesterday (1/24/03) was a very special day for the Bronco Association and fans of the OV-10. The factory mockup came home to the hangar, at least most of it.
Last April, a group of retired Lockheed employees agreed to help us with the restoration effort. They have been doing it for years, including the restoration of a B-36 Peacemaker, so they are experts. They started by taking the horizontal stabilizer and before we knew it, most of the airplane was at the Lockheed-Martin plant here in Fort Worth. A local reserve Marine Engineering Battallion even lent a hand in moving the fuselage. Due to security regulations that apply in the facility, we haven't been able to bring you pictures of the work being done. That will change now that the mockup is back. The fuselage remains at Lockheed for a little while longer.
Don't expect too much when you first see it though. The airplane is still unassembled and unpainted. However, in the last 10 months, 28 people have put over 2,000 hours of work into the restoration. Countless little had to be done... things like creating new wing tip lights and antenna to bigger things like fashioning casters to the landing gear so we can move it around, until we can find actual wheel. We don't want to use the wooden ones it came with. Major portions of the interior have been completely rehabilitated and the cockpit is almost restored. Panels have been added and straightened, a pitot tube has been made where none existed. A mold was made of the props and new ones fashioned out of fiberglass. Flaps and trim tabs have been reshaped or recreated entirely. Radio boxes have been rehabbed. The list really goes on and on. This group of people have provided an invaluable service to us. Even Richard "Fried" Rice from Michigan (who restored the ex-NASA YOV-10A for the Yankee Air Force Museum) has lent a hand providing documentation for us. The mockup has some significant differences from the production model.
This has been a huge group effort but it isn't over by a long shot. The primary reason the mockup is home is the Lockheed workers are losing their work space to production of the F-16, F-22 and JSF. They will keep the fuselage for a little longer, then the work will continue at the OBA hangar.
Or present goal is to have our little beauty on its feet for Bronco Fest IV October 10-12, 2003.
Just wanted you to know how things were coming.
Besides a special thanks to the restoration crew, thanks to all of you who took a leap of faith and donated to the purchase and recovery fund in 2001 to bring it home. A lot of people have helped bring us to this point. I don't think any of you will be disappointed.