Airmen come together to improve LC-130 static display

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Pride. History. Tradition.

These are just a few of the words Airmen here have used to describe the significance of the LC-130 Skibird static display that sits in front of the base.

Throughout the years, the 1957 LC-130 model has lost some of its vibrancy, so about 15 Airmen throughout the Wing got together over the last three weeks cleaning, waxing, sanding and painting the aircraft that signifies the unique polar missions the 109th AW carries out each and every year.

“All around the world, everyone knows (the 109th Airlift Wing) – it’s when they get here that we should have something in front of our unit that says that we are the best,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Begin, 109th Maintenance Operations officer who facilitated the project. “It’s the first thing you see – first impressions are lasting impressions. Why not have that lasting first impression be the best one, and prove that we can live up to our reputation.”

The project began Aug. 10 and continued through Aug. 31. Airmen cleaned up the aircraft through pressure washing, waxing, buffering and sanding. The nose of the aircraft had become chipped, so sheet metal technicians sanded it down, filled it with sealant and painted it to protect it from the elements.

“The windows had been cracking and delaminating over the years – you could put your finger through some of the windows they were that soft,” Begin said. “Our sheet metal professional, Tech. Sgt. Ernie Labounty, 109th Equipment Maintenance Flight, came up with the idea of sealing the windows in, by installing a thin plastic inlay over top of the windows, and painting them black to preserve it.”

Master Sgt. Sarah Helligrass, 109th Communications Flight, heard about the need for volunteers and immediately saw it as an opportunity for her to help preserve the history of the base.

“It’s our history,” she said. “We are the premiere polar unit – we can’t just ignore that. I hope my little contribution can help toward more base-wide visibility.”

Begin said the plan is to make this an annual Wing-wide effort to keep the aircraft looking the best it can.

"Working the static is about bringing the 109th family together for a common good, recognizing the importance of first impressions and unit pride," he said. "It's what the 109th is all about - coming together and making the time to focus on the good stuff, preserving history, and our reputation."