ST. LOUIS – A piece of aviation history in Forest Park will get a touch-up early this week. The COVID pandemic disrupted the plane’s routine maintenance last year.
A piece of aviation history in Forest Park will get a touch-up early this week. The COVID pandemic disrupted the plane’s routine maintenance last year.
“This is an important display and we want it looking good and we want to make a good impression for St. Louis and all visitors,” said Diane Earhart, a member of the Greater St. Louis Ninety-Nines and spokesperson for Big River Aviation.
Earhart is referring to is the retired FA-18 fighter plane that has called Forest Park home for more than a decade.
“The airplane is traditionally cleaned and restored. Any touch-up (or) repainting is taken care of,” Earhart said.
The National Naval Aviation Museum permanently loaned the fighter plane to the St. Louis Science Center in 2010.
On Tuesday, volunteers will begin sprucing up this piece of aviation history.
“Being on permanent display, obviously, it’s subject to all kinds of weather in St. Louis,” Earhart said. “From 0 degree to 100 degrees and all of the elements, it just needs some tender love and care.”
Earhart said the work is usually done by the owner of Big River Aviation and the labor fee paid by the St. Louis Science Center is donated to a local charity.
“This year, the charitable organization is the Ninety-Nines; and they’re going to use the donation for the Adela Scharr Scholarship Fund,” Earhart said.
Adela Scharr was a pioneer for women in the aviation industry.
“She was a public school teacher for many years,” Earhart said. “She was also the first commercial pilot and first ground and flight instructor at Lambert Airport and one of the first members of the Ninety-Nines and what is now the Greater St. Louis Ninety-Nines.”
More than a dozen volunteers will give the FA-18 the attention it didn’t get last year because of the pandemic.
“It’ll be scrubbed down really well and get all the dirt and everything off of it,” Earhart said. “We’re going to make her shine.”