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Coming together: F-100 Super Sabre gets its wings

Tony Faircloth, Museum of Aviation restoration specialist, and Tony Day, restoration supervisor, position the fuselage of the F-100 Super Sabre in preparation for attachment of the wings. The wing attachment to the aircraft – which was flown by retired Gen. Rick Goddard during the Vietnam War – marks a milestone towards getting the aircraft to its final resting place inside the museum’s Hangar One. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Tony Faircloth, Museum of Aviation restoration specialist, and Tony Day, restoration supervisor, position the fuselage of the F-100 Super Sabre in preparation for attachment of the wings. The wing attachment to the aircraft – which was flown by retired Gen. Rick Goddard during the Vietnam War – marks a milestone towards getting the aircraft to its final resting place inside the museum’s Hangar One. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Bob Denison, museum volunteer, uses a jack to help position the fuselage of the F-100 Super Sabre for the wing project March 11, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Bob Denison, museum volunteer, uses a jack to help position the fuselage of the F-100 Super Sabre for the wing project March 11, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When retired Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard left Vietnam, he made a final stop to say goodbye to his "titanium mistress."

"I patted her on the side and thanked her for bringing me home," Goddard reminisced.

Not in his wildest dreams did he realize he would be in charge of restoring his F-100D Super Sabre many years later.

On the morning of March 11, Goddard watched as the restoration team from the Museum of Aviation attached four bolts to secure the wings back onto the fuselage, making his plane look almost ready to be flown into battle again.

The "Cong Killer," as she was named, safely carried Goddard on nearly 180 missions during the Vietnam War.

After searching and believing his plane to be in a boneyard somewhere, Goddard found his aircraft in 2010 at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

"It struck all kinds of chords with me. I flew night after night abusing it. I couldn't leave it out in the open," he said.

The plane needed a lot of work and for almost four years, Goddard, with the help of the museum volunteers and staff, has painstakingly painted, primed and sanded each piece to get it back to as close to the original as possible.

Goddard took pictures with his phone last Friday as the fuselage was lowered onto the wings by a large crane and bolted into place.

"It brings the plane one step closer to completion," he said.