Restoring a legend

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
Sometimes, things happen so ironically that it sounds like a movie script. Take for example, a 24-year-old Air Force pilot who flies an F-100 on 180 missions during the Vietnam War. The same plane, with tail No. 995, was built in California but flew its first test flight to Robins Air Force Base.

The pilot, many years later, becomes the installation commander at Robins. He commissions a piece of artwork and begins wondering about the plane that he flew.

That is when the magic happens.

When asking around about his plane, retired Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard thought it had probably ended up in a boneyard or lost in combat. Come to find out, his "titanium mistress" was perched outside at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

"It struck all kinds of chords with me. I flew day after day, night after night, abusing it often and it got me home safe. I can't just leave it out in the open," he said.

Goddard made it his mission to bring the aircraft to the Museum of Aviation in 2010 and has been helping to restore his plane back to its former glory.

The North American F-100 Super Sabre was the first fighter capable of supersonic speed at level flight.

Along with retired Master Sgt. Aaron Robinson, who Goddard called a "magician" with sheet metal, the pair works through cold and heat at the restoration hangar at the museum trying to get the plane back to museum quality.

The job is detail oriented as many of the small parts, gears and wires as well as many of the larger body parts, have been subjected to corrosion which will continue to deteriorate the metal if left untreated. This is why it is so important for museum pieces to be reconditioned and restored before they are put on display.

Goddard and Robinson are weeks away from putting the wings back on the fuselage of the aircraft. Once the plane is finished, Goddard plans to reunite with his former crew chief who lives in Utah.

The F-100 will be part of the Vietnam exhibit in Hangar One once the renovation is complete. The plane will be painted with Goddard's "Cong Killer" insignia on the side and the markings from the time when he flew the plane.

"There really is an emotional tie [to the aircraft.] She saved my skin many times," Goddard said.