F-16 fighter jet finds a new home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

F-16 fighter jet finds a new home

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

January 5, 2009

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

You can now get an up close look at an Air Force fighter jet. For the first time, a military aircraft is on permanent public display outside Moody Air Force Base. Putting it in place wasn't an easy task.

Early Sunday morning, the 23rd wing towed an F-16 C to the Airman Leadership School.  Moody hopes the jet will inspire students.  Team Leader Matthew Harrington says, "I think this is going to be a great reminder of why they're here, why they joined up, why we do what we do. I think just seeing an aircraft like this displayed the way it is, it's a matter of pride."

It will also be significant to the public, as this is the only aircraft they are allowed access to.

The F-16 can fly at 50,000 feet at 1500 miles per hour. It weighs 20,000 lbs. and can hold 7,000 lbs. of fuel.  The impressive aircraft had to be handled delicately because the engine was removed and the weight distribution was off.

Crash Recovery Section Chief Jeff Andrews described the transport, saying,"We walked the aircraft at a snail's pace. We started the operation at roughly 6 AM and had it on the spot at a quarter till 8."

Because the jet spans more than 32 feet, maneuvering was a challenge.  Chief Andrews quipped, "If you see two 35 miles per hour speed limit signs on the base bent a little bit, we had to do that, just to get the aircraft out."

Before the transfer, the airmen worked hard to get the F-16 ready for display. It took a team of 13 people 2 weeks to get it painted, and to perfect those famous tiger shark teeth.

This F-16 will remain a permanent fixture in Valdosta, and a permanent source of inspiration.

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