Maxwell’s Air Park: Walk through history|
by Airman 1st Class William Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs
8/17/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The intellectual and leadership center of the Air Force has continuous reminders of one particular subject -- history.
Maxwell Air Force Base's Air Park, located on the Academic Circle, displays 12 static aircraft from different periods in time.
Air Park was founded in April 1983, through the guidance of former Air University commander, retired Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland, when he displayed the first plane, the Republic F-105 Thunderchief.
"His vision was to help make Air Force personnel more conscious of the historical roots of the Air Force," said Tyrone Johnson, Maxwell Air Park manager. "Working with the Air Force Museum, he set out to obtain a specific number of aircraft, ranging from WWI to the Vietnam conflict."
Maxwell's Air Park remains true to Cleveland's vision, today. The display is a tangible representation of the Air Force's past.
"It adds tremendous value (to Maxwell) in terms of Air Force history," said Dr. Robert Kane, Air University historian. "It's an outdoor museum and people like to go to museums to see the real items."
Aircraft displayed in Air Park are on long-term loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The 42nd Air Base Wing is responsible for their upkeep.
"It brings what we read in the history books alive because visitors can see the actual airplane," said Kane, also a retired lieutenant colonel with 27 years Air Force experience. "When you see the F-105 in our air park, they can visualize air combat in Vietnam in the 1960s."
None of the Air Park aircraft are flight capable. Before becoming a display the engines, armament and any internal equipment or fluids that might pose a safety or hazardous waste risk are removed. The aircraft are also mounted on stands, keeping them grounded.
As for upkeep, the aircraft must be meticulously maintained to ensure a quality representation is on display at all times. Monthly inspections for each aircraft are required to determine aircraft condition, said Johnson.
"Maxwell's 12 static display aircraft require complete paintings and are washed every six months," said Johnson. "Preventive maintenance inspections are accomplished every six months. Complete radiation surveys on each aircraft are required every three years for aircraft that contain radioactive items. Maxwell's contractors provide static display aircraft maintenance support and maintain them in accordance with applicable directives and publications."
The air park is a consistent reminder of the accomplishments and heritage of the United States Air Force. While this may seem like a lot of work to maintain the displays, the Air Park is a constant reminder of Air Force heritage for all who visit the Air University.
"Maxwell-Gunter's air park brings USAF history to the Maxwell community and fosters a deeper appreciation and interest in aerospace history, education and technology as well as memorializing the accomplishments of American Airmen," said Johnson.