B-52 maintainers help refurbish historic aircraft
Members of the 5th Maintenance Squadron at Minot Air Force Base whose military job is working on B-52s are volunteering their time to refurbish warbirds at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot.
Those working on the warbirds include Master Sgt. Armond Cornin, Senior Airmen Joseph McKenna and Joshua Sacerio and Airmen 1st Class Adam Crespo, Megan Littlefield, Matthew Campbell, Juan Chavez, Miguel Gomez, Justin Perez, Cameron Rivera and Johnathon Dixon.
They are working with the air museum’s longtime refurbishing crew Darrel Kerzmann, coordinator of volunteers, Arvid Pomeroy, Dave Smith and Tim Lett, all Air Force retirees, to refurbish a C-47. They are also working on a P-40 Warhawk.
“Their active-duty jobs are to make sheet metal repairs on B-52s. We enjoy their time and talent here making the same type repairs on our museum displays,” said Kerzmann.
McKenna and Crespo, who were working on the restoration project in the hangar on Tuesday, said they enjoy the work and it gives them an opportunity for creativity. For their active-duty work, they follow strict guidelines and apply what they have learned in the military to the restoration work. Crespo said working on World War II planes is something he never has had a chance to do until now. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said.
The C-47, an outdoor display on the air museum grounds, has fabric-covered controls but they decided to change it to aluminum sheet metal so they won’t have to restore it again.
“In October we decided to start this project by removing the interior insulation and power washing the inside of the aircraft,” said Kerzmann. “Following that we installed a plywood floor and then with winter approaching we decided to move the fabric-covered flight controls that needed repair. We’ll have these ready in the spring to be reinstalled.” He said the entire aircraft will also be painted inside and outside. The goal is to open the inside of the aircraft for public display, he said.
The other plane, the P-40, is an ongoing project requiring extensive work. “There’s a lot of fuselage work and missing panels that will have to be fabricated,” Kerzmann said.
Air museum aircraft restoration volunteers have worked on projects over the years including the F-15 Eagle (2014), F-106 Delta Dart and T-33 Shooting Star (both 2015) and A-7 Corsair II (2016) and now the C-47 and P-40.
“This (C-47) project is really coming together due to the time and talent of certain members of the 5th Maintenance Squadron,” Kerzmann said.