News: Airman breathes life into mini F-16 at OPS
Story by Airman 1st Class Will Winston
SWANTON, Ohio - The first week of October, 180th Fighter Wing airmen remounted a miniature F-16 to its static display outside 180th FW Operations building to mark the completion of a three-month restoration project.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Goulette, a member of the 180th Fabrication shop, led the efforts for refurbishing the once weather-damaged, miniature plane.
“This project was stacked on top of the day-to-day routine aircraft maintenance that needed to be done, and the Unit Compliance Inspection preparation,” said Goulette. “I used my extra time to fix the mini F-16 because I wanted the wing to be proud of it.”
The restoration of the miniature F-16 showcased the work ethic of the 180th Fabrication shop and the pride of the airmen at the 180th FW.
“This project was started because some members of my team noticed that the mini F-16 had not been taken care of last couple of years,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Brubaker, 180th Equipment Maintenance Flight superintendent. “It was in really bad shape so we got it to Sgt. Goulette to see if he could fix it.”
Goulette said that prepping the mini F-16 was very challenging because there was so much damage to the plane’s body. He primed the damaged areas of the plane’s fiberglass body multiple times in an effort to fix defects caused by the elements.
“It took approximately two months to do the body work alone,” said Goulette.
When he started the painting phase, Gouette said, he sought the help of Senior Master Sgt. Michael Bratton, 180th Fabrication Element superintendent, to get the correct information on the plane decals. His goal was to make the miniature plane a replica of the official 180th F-16 aircraft, with full color tail flash. Also, Master Sgt. Jan LaPoint, 180th Structural Repair superintendent, helped him get the color scheme right.
Gouette explained that he took the initiative to scale the miniature jet with an actual F-16. It is approximately one fifth the size of a normal sized F-16 and this information helped him correctly size the plane’s decals, as well as other details of the paint job.
Brubaker said several commanders and chiefs around the 180th FW were impressed with the amount of detail of the miniature jet.
“I did a lot of work on the mini F-16, but it was definitely a wing effort to complete this task,” said Goulette.
“This project was a really good reflection of the work those guys do at the fabrication shop,” said Brubaker. “Also, it showed the pride that Goulette has in his job and his in his unit.”
“I think this plane makes the area in front of the Operations building look nicer, but even more important it symbolizes who we are and what we do here,” said Goulette.