MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Fleet Readiness Center-East and Marine Aircraft Group 14 are giving a facelift to the F-11 Tiger aircraft that was displayed in the city of New Bern, N.C., for decades.
The F-11, which in a previous lifetime flew proudly as part of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, had in recent years grown corroded and was disgraced by vandals. The aircraft is now on the path to recovery, with Marines and civilian employees with FRC-East and MAG-14 working diligently to restore the aircraft to greatness.
“This thing was neglected,” said Duane McFarland with FRC-East. “It should and will be done right.”
Newly renovated and with a coat of paint befitting its honorable history, the aircraft will also have a new home.
Alva Windham, New Bern’s project manager for the F-11 restoration project, said when the renovation is complete the jet will not return to its perch on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. but rather will be moved to Lawson Creek Park.
McFarland explained the plans for renovation include sealing the F-11 with its landing gear up and placed on a stand tilted toward the sky as if it were in flight again.
Windham added the aircraft was a gift to the city of New Bern in 1973 by Maj. Gen. Paul D. Fontana, a former commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
Now, the Cherry Point community is joining forces to restore the aircraft’s esteem. MAG-14 volunteered some Marines to FRC-East to lend a hand in the restoration. Aug. 19, two such Marines could be found diligently working on the F-11, fitting metal pieces onto the jet.
Cpl. Michael D. Dyer and Pfc. Cody J. Mathias, aircraft intermediate level structures mechanics with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14, seemed excited to help refurbish the aircraft.
“It’s pretty cool to provide the community with a good memento,” said Dyer. “People will be able to look up with pride and see the man-hours we put into this project.”
Lt. Col. Mikel R. Huber, the operations officer for MAG-14, echoed the sentiments of community partnership. “The town has done a lot to support Marines,” Huber said. “We jump at the chance to return that support.”