Airport display restoration honors Commemorative Air Force founder

Contributed
Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force founder Harold Smith, left, stands with members of the DFW Wing Commemorative Air Force, who flew the Bluebonnet Belle to Burnet from Sinton, Texas.

 

 

 

 

By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force founder Harold Smith passed away in February, but not before leaving behind the special memories he brought to Burnet with the arrival of the four static display aircraft placed outside the Burnet Municipal Airport after the City of Burnet paired with the Commemorative Air Force to acquire the aircraft in 1996.

The T-38, T-37, A-7, and F-100 standing outside the airport have welcomed visitors and residents to the community of Burnet for more than 20 years, showing the support its residents' share for those who gave their lives to ensure others' freedoms.

Per the terms of the city's contract with the CAF, the city is responsible for the upkeep of the aircraft, a task which will soon be completed after the Airport Static Display Restoration Project. With this project, Burnet's memorialization of fallen and active soldiers will remain possible for decades to come.

The aircraft's restoration, made possible by the 40 volunteers from the Lower Colorado River Authority and its coming “Step Forward Day” on Friday, April 5, the City of Burnet, and as sponsorships from individuals and businesses throughout the community, is well under way.

Crews with Texas Green Blast have been spending their days sandblasting layers upon layers of old paint from the aircraft to prepare them for painting, which is coming up in just over a week's time.

The surface area of each aircraft varies, as does its blasting time. The F-100, with a surface area of 2,500 square feet, was sandblasted in two days, but the A-7, which seems to be the same size as the F-100, has a surface area of approximately 4,500 square feet due to the six bombs under its wings, compared to the F-100's two bombs. All four aircraft have a total surface area of over 9,000 square feet which will be prepped in just two weeks.

The time it is taking crews to prepare for the project only emphasizes the importance of the restoration, as the United States Air Force specifications must be met to continue. TNEMEC, the company from which the city is purchasing its durable paint, reached out to a painter from Louisiana who will be completing the insignia to these specifications.

In just over a week, LCRA's “Step Forward Day” will occur as volunteers from the LCRA, the Commemorative Air Force, Burnet Association of Merchants, and various community members will work together to honor our nation's military through this memorable project. The community is invited to stop by and help or “honk” as they drive by the airport on Friday, April 5 and the days leading up to project day.

Harold Smith is most likely smiling down on the community as it works together to restore the warbirds to their former glory. The community will be able to honor Smith at a celebration of his life this Saturday, March 30, at the Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force hangar, 2302 South Water St., Burnet. Gates will open at 11 a.m., and the celebration will begin at 12 p.m.

 

Harold Smith Celebration of Life schedule:

12 p.m. – Introduction, Christi Bergren

12:15 p.m. – Invocation, Jay Paul Roy

12:30 p.m. – “Amazing Grace,” bagpipe, Forbess

12:40 p.m. – Explanation of Missing Ban, Jeff Copsetta

12:50 p.m. – Move outside for missing man

1:00 p.m. – TAPS, Alan Tanner; missing man formation

1:15 p.m. – back inside, individual speakers will share stories about Harold and mingle, visit amongst other guests, and enjoy refreshments and food.

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