A high visibility and historic Marine all weather attack jet is getting a facelift in time for a September reunion of affiliated pilots and mechanics.
The A-6E Intruder on display off Tourist Center Drive since 2005 is getting a restorative paint job just in time for a reunion of Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 533.
“It’s lost its luster,” said Jim Stuart, curator of aircraft for the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation and a Havelock commissioner. “It was pretty drab looking.”
The aircraft, on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla., has been on display in Havelock since June 19, 2005.
“By contract, we have agreed to maintain the aircraft in a presentable condition,” Stuart said.
Paint on the plane, Bureau Number 164378, has deteriorated such that it needed to be refurbished, Stuart said. The airframe had minor cracks and corrosion from being exposed to the weather for nearly a decade in Havelock. Prior to that, it had been on display in Newport News, Va., and sustained considerable deterioration, Stuart said. The aircraft was brought to Cherry Point where volunteers from a Naval Aviation Depot repair unit donated labor to restore it.
Vince Miller, of McGowan Painting Contractors in Greenville, said his crew would be working on the plane’s new paint job for another week.
Stuart said the work is mostly cosmetic and will improve the plane’s appearance for motorists passing along U.S. 70.
The city of Havelock is paying $28,500 for the work.
“If we could have towed it onto the base and contracted FRC to do it, my rough estimate is that it would have cost us $50,000 to do it there,” Stuart said. “We don’t have that kind of money. We do, but we’re not going to spend it on an airplane.”
The plane is one of 693 A-6s that were in service between 1963 and 1993 for both the Marine Corps and Navy. The A-6E on display in Havelock has the paint scheme of Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 533, whose members will be meeting Sept. 5 to 7 for a reunion in Havelock.
The reunion for 1969-70 crew from the Vietnam era includes a tour of Cherry Point, lunch at Miller’s Landing, Steak and Shrimp Night at VFW Post No. 7315 in Havelock, and a banquet at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.
For more information about the reunion, call the reunion headquarters at the Holiday Inn Express in Havelock at 447-9000, or call Jerry Callaway at 303-469-9896 or 303-946-7893 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.