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Museum staff, volunteers make aircraft squeaky clean

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
At least two dozen aircraft sit outside the Museum of Aviation. They're exposed to the hot, humid Georgia summers, and get covered in pollen just like everyone's car does. 

However, one does not simply pull a large airplane into a car wash to make it look great again.

That's where the museum staff and volunteers come in. 

Every year or two, they put on their safety gear, get up on lifts and pressure wash each plane. It's a grueling task that can take up to five days, depending on the weather and how large the aircraft is.

"You can really see how green they get, especially the dark gray ones," said John Bodenhamer, museum specialist.

Bodenhamer observed while Erwin Ross, exhibit specialist, used a scrub brush to get the grime off of a C-121 Constellation.

Ross, strapped to a lifter, used the brushes and water to clean the top and sides of the aircraft which sits near the restoration hangar on the south end of the complex.

So you might be wondering what they use to get the aircraft squeaky clean. It's really quite simple. The soapy mixture is nothing more than a combination of dishwashing liquid and baking soda.

Once part of a plane is washed, the difference is quite noticeable compared to parts which haven't been.

A good scrubbing not only makes the plane look better, but it also prevents corrosion.

Anthony Day, restoration supervisor at the museum, explained how just how well an effective corrosion prevention and control program can limit deterioration of an aircraft.

"All aerospace vehicles require a regular wash cycle as all aircraft displayed outdoors may and will be exposed to industrial gases, slats, rain or mud," he said.

When to visit
The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The museum is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is free.  For more information, call 478-926-6870.