Community rallies behind airport display restoration

Savanna Gregg/Burnet Bulletin
Texas Green Blast crews sandblast the last static display aircraft at the Burnet Municipal Airport on Thursday, March 28. According to Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force Executive Officer Ed Holley, the T-38 pictured was known a supersonic trainer back in its prime.





By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

Burnet's static display aircraft will undergo the final stages of their restoration this Friday, April 5 at the Burnet Municipal Airport. Since it was approved, crews with Texas Green Blast have been preparing the aircraft for the Static Display Restoration Project by sandblasting the previous layers of paint from the aluminum giants while the Burnet community has developed a common goal of seeing the project to completion.

As the perimeter fence of the Burnet Municipal Airport is steadily filling with banners thanking each and every sponsor for the project, the aircraft behind it move a step closer to the finished product. Members of the Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force, as they volunteer at the airport and its museum, have the opportunity to watch the transformation from their windows and recognize the project's significance to the city.

“The city keeps the area around the planes nice, and I think the display is definitely an attraction for the people driving down the road,” said Executive Officer Ed Holley.

“I can't count how many people stop in here because they see the planes out front and decide to come see what we have in the museum,” Adjutant Sonny Croom added. “And not only do we have the planes, but we've got tanks and missiles. Not many small towns have as much as we do.”

The small town of Burnet has big ideas though, and after an extensive time researching different routes for the best possible restoration for the planes on loan from the Commemorative Air Force to the City of Burnet, Airport Manager Leslie Baugh was able to bring together various groups to complete the project, from Texas Green Blast crews and their sandblasting services to TNEMEC and their durable paint, and from community volunteers to professional painters who will soon come together to make this years-long dream a reality – not to mention the affect individuals and businesses throughout the area have made with their monetary donations, evident by the growing amount of names donning the chainlink fence surrounding the aircraft and airport.

“They will be bringing in professionals to get it done right, and I think Leslie found the best paint for it,” added Adjutant Sonny Croom. “The aircraft will look absolutely beautiful once they are finished.”

Though Holley and Croom were not members of the CAF upon the aircraft's arrivals throughout 1996, they have worked alongside members who were present during the process.

“Harold Smith had a direct hand getting them (the aircraft) here, and other members of the CAF were instrumental in getting them,” Croom said. “Over the years we have helped maintain the records and share information about them; there is a lot of history behind these types of planes.”

Croom and Holly explained the meaning behind the aircrafts' names. Planes with the letter “T,” such as the T-37 and T-38, were used as trainers, those with the letter “A,” like the A-7, were attack aircraft, and those with a letter “F,” like the F-100, were used as fighters. The F-100 was also designed to carry nuclear warheads and deliver them on the enemy back in its War days.

The looks of most of the planes will be changing to something totally different, especially when viewers see the transition from the original camouflage paint to white for the T-38 and silver for the F-100. Regardless, Burnet's static display aircraft's transformation is sure to turn heads for decades to come, as they are brought back to their prime. The project provides a sense of hope for the community as well, as it and the CAF are still reeling from the loss of the Squadron's Douglas C-47 Skytrain “Bluebonnet Belle,” which crashed in July 2018.

“It has been tough the last year with everything that has happened, but we are recovering,” Croom said.

Burnet's Airport Static Display Restoration Project originally began as the Lower Colorado River Authority's “Step Forward Day,” but since the necessity for professional painting services have arisen for the day of the project, the 40 LCRA volunteers will be taking part in another project, where they will be painting the Faulkner Airshop at the Burnet Municipal Airport.

Croom and Holley said they will have the airport hangar open at 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 5, with breakfast and lunch available for volunteers. The hangar will stay open until “close of business,” according to Croom. The public is invited to come out and take pictures, lend a helping hand, or just stand and witness their community hard at work preserving history and honoring the nation's heroes.

“We have about 20 volunteers with the CAF who will come out and help,” Croom said. “We have had a bunch of people step up, and we'd like to give people a chance to get out of the sun and rest that day. We are also hoping to have a lot of the community come out and check out the project.”

Sponsorships for the Airport Static Display Restoration Project are still being accepted at various locations throughout the community. Individuals and businesses interested in sponsoring the project may deliver or mail a check donation to City Hall, 1001 Buchanan Drive, Suite 4, Burnet, Texas 78611, or call in a donation to Sonia Tucker, Utility Clerk at 512-715-3203, or Tina Marie Morgan, Court Clerk, at 512-715-3207.

Sponsorship packets are still available at the following locations:

Burnet Municipal Airport – Commemorative Air Force Museum
2302 South Water Street

Faulkner Airshop
2302 South Water Street

Burnet Chamber of Commerce
101 North Pierce Street

Burnet Bulletin
220 South Main Street

The Highlander
304A Highlander Circle
Marble Falls

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