A-3 SKYWARRIOR WHIDBEY MEMORIAL
P.O. BOX 1402
OAK HARBOR, WA 98277
Project Status and
Construction at Memorial Site is Nearly Complete
Construction of the Memorial site is more than 99% complete. The paving bricks purchased by individuals have been laid in alphabetical order around the walkway surrounding the aircraft, and the pavers memorializing aircrews and others who died in connection with A-3 operations have been placed around the memorial wall. The only remaining work is the connection of several spot lights which will illuminate the site during hours of darkness.
We expect the rest of the work will be done in a few weeks. Once that happens, we will coordinate with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island to set a date for the dedication ceremony. We will announce the date of the dedication and other relevant information on this website as soon as they are available.
The Whidbey A-3 Makes Its Final Journey
On Friday, 28 August and Saturday 29 August 2015, the Whidbey A-3 made
its final journey. At long last, it was time for the Whale to leave
the confines of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, where it has been
located since April 2011, and move to a location only feet away from
where it will be on permanent display. Our Whale didn’t fly this time.
It rolled behind a Navy tow tractor, and it made the trip in typical
A-3 style. There were a few obstacles to be avoided along the way, but
the Whale took it all in stride, arriving in perfect condition. The
total distance it traveled was nearly 4 miles.
The trip started on Friday the 28th at the NAS Whidbey aircraft
parking ramp. From there it went to the approach end of Runway 32 and
then across a large grassy field to the Air Station’s perimeter fence.
A path across the field had been prepared by NAS Whidbey several years
ago and was still in good condition. Towing an aircraft as large and
heavy as an A-3 across an area of grass, dirt, shrubs, and trees isn’t
a usual procedure. Fortunately, Whidbey experienced an unusually dry,
warm summer this year and the soil was firm. Once it reached the
perimeter fence surrounding the Air Station, the Whale was parked
overnight with the Air Station’s Security personnel keeping a close
eye on it. Before dawn the next day, 29 August, the aircraft was towed
through the fence and onto Ault Field Rd. This is a busy public
roadway. Access to normal traffic was closed in a rolling fashion as
the A-3 moved 1.5 miles to Langley Blvd. Once the Whale reached the
intersection of Ault Field Rd and Langley Blvd, the towing crew had to
make a sharp, 90 degree turn for the final run down the hill. There
were several road signs, a telephone pole, and trees that made this
part of the trip a little tricky. But the NAS Whidbey aircraft
directors and tractor driver carefully maneuvered the Whale around the
obstacles, and the aircraft made it down the hill without a scratch.
The Whale is now temporarily parked very close to its final home at
the Memorial Site which is near the Langley Gate of NAS Whidbey
Island. This location is on Navy property, but outside the main
perimeter fence surrounding the Air Station. It will therefore be
accessible to the public at all times.
We expect construction of the Memorial Site to begin in the very near
future. All the necessary permits and approvals have been acquired.
The construction will consist of the installation of a large concrete
pad for the aircraft to stand on, as well as placement of the memorial
wall. 664 engraved pavers will be laid in the ground around the
aircraft, including 263 memorializing those who perished while flying
the A-3 over its long career. In addition, lighting will be installed
to illuminate the A-3 during hours of darkness.
As soon as we have additional information about the construction
schedule for the Memorial and the anticipated date of the dedication
ceremony, we will publicize it on this page and in emails to our
The successful movement of the A-3 was only possible because of the
close cooperation and partnership that exists between the A-3
Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation (A3SWMF) and Naval Air Station
Whidbey Island. We would particularly like to thank the following
individuals who played key roles in this event:
CAPT Mike Nortier: Commanding Officer NAS Whidbey
Mr. Bill MacMillan: NAS Whidbey Island Airfield
Mr.Mark VanOort: NAS Whidbey Island Airfield
Mr. Wayne Trumbull: Wolf Creek Government Services,
ABH1 Lonnie Hancock: Lead Aircraft Director
ABE1 Luke Hart: Aircraft Tow Tractor Driver
Jeff Hansen: Vice Pres. A3SWMF, A-3 Crewman Navigator
and Brake Rider
Bill Conley: Secretary A3SWMF, Assistant Brake Rider
Larry Irvin: Charter Member A3SWMF, Chock Walker
Bill Burklow: Director A3SWMF, Chock Walker
Additional key personnel who participated in the A-3’s movement are
identified in the photo at the end of this article.
Friday, August 28: Whidbey A-3 at end of Runway 32, preparing
for the move across country
rolling across the grassy field. Wings and tail folded to
clear obstacles along the way
August 29: About 5 a.m. The Whale on Ault Field Rd.
At the intersection of Ault Field Rd and Langley Blvd.
the turn at Langley Blvd
Tight squeeze at the top of Langley Blvd
Moving down Langley Blvd. Langley Gate and NAS Whidbeyin the
The A-3 in its temporary location outside Langley Gate
The Aircraft Movement Crew: NAS Whidbey Island and A-3
L to R: AM1 Callender, ABHAN Scott, ABFAN McBride, ABFAA Bell,
ABE2 Schneider, ABH1 Hancock, ABE1 Hart, ABHAA Stroope, Larry
Irvin, Jeff Hansen, Bill Conley, Bill Burklow, ABHC Wagner
Whidbey A-3 Skywarrior on Display at NAS Whidbey Island Open
House 27 June 2015
On 27 June 2015, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island held an open house.
For the second year in a row, the public was invited on board the Air
Station to view aircraft on static display and numerous other exhibits
inside and outside the hangars. This year’s open house was held in
conjunction with the final day of the three day “Prowler Sunset
Celebration”. This event commemorated the end of the 45 year history
of the EA-6B Prowler’s service with the U.S. Navy. A highlight of the
open house was the fly-off of the last Navy Prowler. Thousands of
active duty and retired personnel attended the open house along with
many more civilians from the surrounding communities. The Whidbey
A-3 was a very popular attraction as attested by the long lines of
people who waited for a chance to view the interior of the aircraft.
Jeff Hansen and Jim Croft stayed by the aircraft all day, to assist
people who wished to look inside the cockpit, and also to answer
questions about the Whidbey A-3 and its restoration.
to R: Bill Burklow, Ralph Estes, Ed Capasso at the A3SWMF
booth during the open house. Bill, Ralph, and Ed served
together in VAH-4 aboard USS Oriskany, 1965-1968.
Spectators in line to view the A-3 cockpit at the open house
Whidbey A-3 at Naval Air Station
Whidbey Island Open House 19 July 2014
The Whidbey A-3 made its most recent public
appearance at the NAS Whidbey Island open house on 19 July. About
2,000 visitors from Whidbey Island and throughout the Puget Sound area
attended the open house and had a chance to view aircraft and other
displays representing the various squadrons and other organizations
stationed at NAS Whidbey. One of the stars of the show was the Whidbey
A-3. Members of the Whidbey A-3 Memorial Foundation were on hand to
provide the public with literature about the project and answer
questions about the Memorial and the A-3 aircraft.
|Whidbey A-3 on the flight
line during Open House
||Jeff Hansen at the
Whidbey A-3. Answering visitors’ questions about the aircraft
and the Memorial Foundation’s mission.
Whidbey A-3 Memorial Foundation Reps at the Foundation’s
L-R: Bill Burklow, Ralph Estes, Jim
Croft, Alex Cole (Bill B’s grandson), Jeff Hansen, Bill Young.
MEETING AT NAS WHIDBEY ISLAND, 1 MAY 2014
On 1 May 2014, the directors and officers of
the A-3 Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation met with
representatives of Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island to discuss the
future of the Memorial.
Captain Michael Nortier, Commanding Officer
of NAS Whidbey Island, opened the meeting. He announced that funding
had been identified that will allow NAS Whidbey to proceed with the
characterization study to determine the nature and extent of the
contamination at the memorial site located at the corner of Langley
Blvd and Ault Field Road. This is the original location of the
memorial site where work was stopped because of soil contamination
associated with a buried fuel tank. NAS Whidbey intends to go ahead
with the clean up of this site and, if all goes according to plan, to
build the memorial there rather than at some other location.
Captain Nortier reaffirmed NAS Whidbey’s
full commitment to a successful completion of the A-3 Memorial as
expeditiously as possible and in a way that will be a fitting tribute
to all those whom the memorial commemorates.
After Captain Nortier’s opening statements,
NAS Whidbey officials stated that the contract to do the
characterization study will be let within the next few months. This
work will involve taking soil samples at the planned memorial site and
analyzing the results. The characterization report will probably be
finished by the September 2014 timeframe. NAS representatives
recommended that everyone concerned should meet again at that time to
discuss the results of the study and its implications for the
prospects of continuing with the plan to build at the Langley Blvd
location. If the results indicate that the site can be cleaned up for
a reasonable amount of money and in a timely fashion, the funding to
proceed with the clean up will be sought and work will continue. If
this is the case, we might expect the site to be available for
construction of the Memorial by the summer of 2015. If it appears that
the clean up will require a substantial amount of funding that may not
be available in the foreseeable future, it may be necessary to
identify an alternate site for the memorial.
Those of us who have been working on the
Whidbey A-3 project for more than four years consider NAS Whidbey’s
announcements to be good news. We think the Langley Blvd location to
be ideal for several reasons. Not least is that it is in a spot that
allows unimpeded public access to the memorial while still being close
enough to NAS Whidbey to ensure adequate security. Although there is
no guarantee that the contamination at the site can be cleaned up and
the site made available for construction in the very near future,
there would also be delays associated with starting work at any
alternate site. Therefore, we consider this plan to be the most
advantageous alternative at the present time and we look forward
optimistically to seeing things proceed relatively smoothly from now
on. We will update this page with further information as it becomes
the meanwhile, we want to thank all our members for their support in
the past and to assure all of you who have helped make this memorial a
reality that we’re on the job and committed to seeing this project
through to a successful completion as soon as possible.
The A-3 Skywarrior
Whidbey Memorial Wall is complete:
After many months of planning
and work the Memorial Wall has been completed. The
design of the wall is the brainchild of Bill Burklow,
one of the Whidbey Memorial Foundation’s directors. With
the help of Ralph Estes, the Foundation’s Chairman, Bill
worked closely with Todd’s Monuments to make sure the
wall turned out exactly as we envisioned it. Our sincere
thanks go to Lucy Mae Martin, owner of Todd’s Monuments
in Conway, Washington for her enthusiasm and generosity
in making the wall a reality. We are also grateful to
Ms. Martin for donating a significant portion of the
costs in labor and materials, which helped make it
possible for us to pay for the wall within our budget.
The wall is entirely a product
of Washington State. It is constructed of basalt stone
hand selected from a quarry in Ephrata, Washington and
shipped to Princess Jade in Everson, WA where the
columns were carefully unloaded and prepared for the
cutting and polishing. After this process was complete
the 3 beautiful custom basalt slabs were delivered to
Todd’s Monuments in Conway, which is a short distance
from Whidbey Island making it possible for Bill and
Ralph to pay several visits to Todd’s Monuments workshop
and consult in person with Ms. Martin as the wall was
These photos show the raw
columnar basalt before being shipped from the quarry:
When molten lava cooled and cracked many millions of
years ago, it was formed into these distinctive
The finished segments of
After arriving to Princess Jade on
the Mount Baker Highway, the raw basalt columns were cut
& polished, then delivered to Todd’s Monuments workshop
where it was completed by Lucy Mae Martin. The wall
consists of three segments, engraved front and back. The
centerpiece contains an inscription dedicating the
memorial to those who flew the A-3 Skywarrior and who
perished while operating the aircraft. On either side of
the inscription are the lyrics of the song “Silver
Wings”. On the reverse of the segments is a map of the
world along with the designations of all the squadrons
and other units which flew the A-3 over its long
history. Martin did all of the engraving herself and the
results reflect the pride that she takes in her craft.
|When the three
segments are joined and mounted at the memorial site,
the wall will be approximately twelve feet long by four
From 8-11 August 2013, Whalers from
all over converged on Whidbey, Island, Washington, for
the A-3 Skywarrior Association’s sixth bi-annual
reunion. Over 300 were there as former A-3 crewmen,
maintenance personnel, and others who served in A-3
squadrons gathered to reunite with old friends and make
new ones. The festivities included a “Flight Suit Picnic”, a tour
of the Boeing aircraft production facility, a banquet,
and a barbecue. In another highlight of the reunion, NAS
Whidbey Island organized a special display consisting of
the Whidbey A-3, an EA-6B Prowler, and an EA-18G
Growler. Reunion participants had a chance to view all
the aircraft at close hand and many of them climbed up
the A-3’s boarding ladder for a look inside the cockpit.
The members of the Whidbey A-3 project wish to thank the
A-3 Skywarrior Association for bringing the reunion to
our part of the world. Special thanks, also, to NAS
Whidbey Island for making the aircraft display possible.
Banquet at NAS Whidbey Island Officers Club
Bill Burklow and Jeff Hansen of the Whidbey A-3
Skywarrior Memorial Foundation conducted tours of the
Whidbey Whale and answered questions about the process
of restoring the aircraft.
(Photo courtesy of John Phipps)
(Photo courtesy of John Phipps)
Whidbey A-3 Skywarrior and EA-6B Prowler on display at
(Photo courtesy of
|On 26 March, the
underground storage tank was removed from the site where
the Whidbey A-3 Skywarrior
Memorial will be located. Removal
was done under a contract between NAS Whidbey Island and
a company called Diane’s Tanks. The soil surrounding the
tank has been found to be contaminated with oil that has
leaked from the tank. Cleanup of the site is the
responsibility of NAS Whidbey Island. So far, we have
received the following information from the Public Works
Department of NAS Whidbey Island concerning the status
of the site:
On 2 April (In response to our
request for information about tests on the soil samples
taken on 26 March):
“We haven’t received any result
yet. We don’t expect them to come in for a few weeks.
The results won’t change our schedule for clean-up
unfortunately. At the earliest, 2014 is the most
optimistic for completion.”
On 4 April:
“Please share this with the rest of
the A-3 Foundation if I left someone out.
We’ve been talking to Diane’s Tanks
about the contamination data. Unfortunately, we cannot
allow the results to be available for public release.
Our spill response employee is the project manager and
needs to develop a mitigation strategy coordinated with
the State. The data is treated as sensitive information
during this coordination period.
I can keep you
guys apprised of the schedule and progress we are making
as it pertains to the A-3 construction schedule. So let
me know if you have questions and I’ll do my best to
find you the answers.”
What this means
is that construction of the memorial site is postponed
until the site can be cleaned up. Because of cutbacks
related to the budget sequestration, NAS Whidbey does
not have the funds to begin cleaning up the site this
year. Therefore, we are hoping that construction of the
site will resume sometime in 2014. The technical plans
for the site have been drawn up, the memorial wall is
being engraved , and all the memorial pavers are ready
to be laid at the site. As soon as we get the go-ahead
from NAS Whidbey, we will finish construction of the
site and move the Whale to it.
We regret this
delay, but there is nothing we can do to expedite the
process. The site is on NAS Whidbey property and they
must adhere to established regulations and procedures in
order to clean up the contamination before any other
work can be done.
this page for any additional information that may become
| Within a few days of beginning construction of
the Memorial Site, the contractors discovered an old underground
fuel tank. This tank is situated in the area where the concrete
pad that will support the A-3 will be located. As a result, work
on the site has temporarily stopped while the Navy evaluates the
steps that will be taken to remove the tank and to determine
whether a cleanup of possible soil contamination on the site is
required. At present, the best estimate is that construction of
the Memorial Site will resume in the March/April timeframe and
be completed about a month later. The dedication of the Memorial
Site is still scheduled to be held on 10 August 2013 in
conjunction with the A-3 Association Reunion at Whidbey. Updated
information will be posted on this website and in emails to our
members as soon as it is available.
Contractors inspecting the buried fuel tank found at the
home for our new Whale!
||Click on images for a
Click here for the Whidbey News Times article about the
installation of the sign
Click here for the fly-in of the
Ground Breaking Begins!
On the foggy morning of 20 September, construction crews
headed by P&L General Contractors of Oak Harbor broke
ground on the Whidbey A-3 Skywarrior Memorial Site. If all
goes according to plan, the site will be ready for the A-3
to be moved onto the concrete slab in about three weeks.
Watch this page for more photos and other news about the
construction of the site.
Click here to view an article in the Whidbey News Times on
The first of many shovelfuls of
Bill Burklow, Jim Croft,
and Jeff Hansen give thumbs up
to the first step in site
Restoration Update as of
29 June, 2012
The Whale is now
wearing a new coat of gloss grey paint as well as brand
new markings. The work involved washing the aircraft,
masking various sections of the airframe, sanding it to
enable the new paint to adhere properly, and then applying
the new paint and the markings. Altogether, the process
took five weeks and was accomplished through the
painstaking efforts of two of our volunteers, Jeff Hansen
and Jim Croft, along with a number of active duty Navy
personnel from the Fleet Readiness Center, Northwest. As
shown in the photographs below, the Whale looks better
than ever and is now ready to be moved to the Memorial
Site where it will be on permanent display.
estimate that at least 4,000 hours of work were required
to restore the Whale to its present configuration and
condition. Many of those hours were donated by active duty
Navy men and women. In particular, we wish to thank VQ-2
for its invaluable assistance and support during the
beginning and middle phases of the restoration. A special
thanks also to the Fleet Readiness Center, Northwest, for
their expert assistance during the washing, sanding, and
painting of the Whale. We couldn’t have done it without
them. “BZ” to them and all who worked on the Whale
throughout the last ten months.
Starboard side: VAH-10 Broadsword on fuselage, NP
Port side: VAH-123 insignia on fuselage,
L to R: Jeff Hansen, AE3 King, AE 3 Stone, AM2
AMAN Hayes, AMAN
Griffin, Jim Croft
L to R: Jeff Hansen, AE3 Stone, AE3 King, AM2
(team leader), AMAN Hayes, AMAN Griffin, Jim Croft.
pictured: AMC Rael (supervisor).
Numeral 263 commemorates those who perished while
flying the A-3 and while supporting its missions.
Engine intakes and
exhausts are protected from incursions by birds
and other wildlife by specially made plexiglass
A-3 Skywarrior, Bureau Number 144825,
144825 with wings and tail folded in preparation
from the flight line at NAS
to the display site.
Watch this page for more
Restoration Update as of 21 May
On May 14th our Whale went
into the wash rack at NAS Whidbey Island for a complete scrub down. Cleaning the
aircraft was necessary to make sure it would look its best
prior to going on display as part of the VQ-2
Disestablishment Ceremony which took place three days
later, on May 17th. There were a good number of
volunteers on hand to help with the job, but it still took
over two and a half hours. When they were done, the
aircraft was clean, shiny, and ready to stand inspection
by the hundreds of people who attended the ceremony. VQ-2
flew the A-3 longer than any other squadron. The A-3
Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation was proud and
honored to be invited to play a part in the ceremony that
marked the end of that squadron’s long and illustrious
history. It was also necessary to clean the Whale in order
to get it ready for a complete repainting. On May
our volunteers began sanding the aircraft to prepare it
for repainting, which is scheduled to begin the week of
May 28th. We expect that spraying a new coat of
paint and applying the markings, which the aircraft will
wear when it’s on display, will take about two weeks.
Watch this page for more photos as this, the final step in
the Whale’s restoration, takes place.
144825 drying in the sun
after wash down
Some of our members and friends 17
Heritage aircraft display 17
Inside the Hangar, VQ-2
Disestablishment 17 May
Restoration Update as of 8 February 2012
Our Whale was moved into hangar 6 at
NAS Whidbey on 2 February to continue the restoration that
began last October.
On 2 February, work got underway with
Jim Croft and Jeff Hansen restoring the escape chute
panels that had been removed when the bungee cable that
dampens the closing and opening of the lower boarding
platform was replaced. Jeff and Jim also removed the large
Raytheon decal from both sides of the vertical stabilizer.
day, Harvey Herrigstad, Lynn Taylor, Larry Irvin and
George Haigh went to work on the removal of the pylons on
both wings and the bomb rack on the starboard wing. Pylon
exterior panels were removed to expose some of the
mounting bolts. Later in the day, Navy personnel delivered
the Whale’s drag chute that had been stored at the NAS air
terminal since the aircraft flew to Whidbey last April.
Jim and Jeff repacked the chute and stored it in the crew
On 3 February, Jeff Hansen and Jim
Croft went to work and repaired the tail section aft of
the drag chute doors where a previous fiberglass repair
was starting to delaminate. Next, they started working on
the large panel on the exterior of the starboard side of
the fuselage that had recessed connections for wiring
associated with test equipment. They fabricated some
backing plates and applied a coat of filler to the holes.
AM3 Thompson, a metalsmith with VQ-2, removed the forward
fuselage anel that had also been installed when the
aircraft was reconfigured as a test platform. He and AM2
Spitzer, also a VQ-2 metalsmith, fabricated a new panel to
replace that one. AM2 Spitzer started removing the aft
panel above the “hell hole” door that needed to be
On Saturday, 4 February, Larry Irvin, Ron Foster, George
Haigh, with no help at all from Barney O’Connell, who
mostly stood around and offered encouragement, went to
work on a big job. They removed both of the wing pylons
along with the bomb rack on the starboard side, as well as
the adaptors that held the pylons to the wings. The bolts
holding the pylons to the adaptors were torqued at 640
ft/lbs. A lot of ingenuity and muscle were required to
break those bolts loose. The guys fabricated a breaker bar
out of a piece of scrap metal and attached that to the end
of a large wrench. With two of them pushing on this tool
the bolts finally came loose and the rest of the job was
fairly straight forward, even though it took most of the
Everybody took Sunday off, but they were back at work on
Monday the 6th. Larry Irvin and Ron Foster stowed the wire
bundles associated with the wing pylons by feeding them
one at a time back into the wings. They also removed some
old fuel stains that were exposed when the pylons were
removed. Ron took measurements to fabricate the starboard
wing fold hinge panel that was missing when the aircraft
arrived at Whidbey. He and Larry also finished removing
the aft fuselage panel that AM2 Spitzer had started to
work on several days before. In the meanwhile, Jim Croft
and Jeff Hansen finished doing some repairs to the large
starboard fuselage panel, the tail cone, the area aft of
the drag chute doors and the port speedbrake. The circular
panel above the starboard wheel well was also removed and
a rough replacement fabricated. By the end of the day all
the panels requiring replacement were in the VQ-2
metalsmith shop as templates for the new panels.
On Tuesday, 7
February, the VQ-2 metalsmiths fabricated and drilled the
new circular panel and the aft fuselage panel.
On 8 February, work resumed at a good
pace. Ron Foster installed the wing fold hinge panel that
he had fabricated, then primed it. Jeff Hansen and Jim
Croft finished fabricating, drilling and countersinking
the three starboard fuselage panels. Then they did a wet
seal installation and primed them all. They also
manufactured and installed plates to cover the holes where
the wing pylon wires exited the wings.
On 9 February,
Larry Irvin finished removing the last of the adhesive
left on the vertical stabilizer when the Raytheon decal
was removed. Jeff Hansen and Jim Croft did some final
cleanup and the restoration was complete.
As of now, the Whale is ready to be
repainted. In the near future we hope to have some news on
how and when the painting will be done.
After the paint is
applied, the next step will be to plan for movement of the
plane to the display site and to start making preparations
for the design and construction of the site. Check this
page of our website for more information about both of
those parts of the project.
Our thanks go to Jeff Hansen for
coordinating the restoration for the Skywarrior Memorial
Foundation. He planned the sequence of steps involved in
the work and, along with Jim Croft, used their expertise
to do most of the technical work on the airframe and
We would like to extend our sincere
appreciation to all the men and women of VQ-2 for the
superb support and cooperation they have given us
throughout the restoration phase of the project. Special
thanks go to AM2 Carmen Fielding, the restoration
coordinator at VQ-2, for her help in all areas of the
restoration over the last six months. She helped obtain
hangar space, assisted in the movement of the Whale to and
from the hangar, and spent many hours doing work on the
aircraft. This has truly been a cooperative effort
involving active duty sailors from VQ-2 and NAS Whidbey
Island along with the volunteers members of the Whidbey
Skywarrior Memorial Foundation. Many hundreds of hours
went into this restoration, and it was a memorable
experience for everyone who took part.
CLICK ON IMAGES FOR A LARGER VIEW
Jeff Hansen removing decal
repairing tail section
Jeff Hansen repairing panel
AM2 Burklow remove pylon panels
starting pylon removal
Larry Irvin removing panel
removing wire connectors
|Ron Foster, 'I
need a bigger wrench'
has a good idea
Larry Irvin, George Haigh
||Larry, Ron go
to work on bolts
| Bolt starts
|| Adaptor under
wing, pylon coming down
Bill Young, Barney O'Connell,
Jim Croft, Jeff Hansen, Larry Irvin
wire bundles into wing
, Larry Irvin, Barney O’Connell, Jeff Hansen
Number 144825 Ready for Paint
Restoration update as of 16 Nov 2011
So as you can see 144825 now has an RA
nose radome (bullnose) and a version tail installed (duckbutt).
Along with that the conduit fairing run has been removed from the
stbd side and some metal work has been done to start prepping 825
for paint. Many thanks to the Commanding Officer of
VQ-2 for the use of his hangar! At this time '825 is back outside
in front of the "Whitehouse". Hopefully it will be back inside as
it's cold working on the line. Here's a list of
projects signed off or awaiting maintenance Tail R&R -
Complete Nose Radome R&R - Complete Conduit fairing run removed -
Complete Patch wire run holes in stbd fuselage - In
Work Fill in conduit run fairing screw holes - In Work
Lower door bungee cable replacement - In work (Need to grade 4 the
cable and replace the door panels) Thanks to the guys at the FRC
Northwest airframes and welding shops for the help with the
Manufacture and install stbd upper wing fold panel - Awaiting
Maintenance Jack the aircraft - Awaiting Maintenance
Fill main and nose wheel tires with foam - Awaiting Maintenance
(This requires a set of jack pads, Mike Glenn is looking into his
pre-ex to see if he has a spare set we can borrow. We will need to
coordinate with FRC Northwest to get the jacks. Some creative
comshawing will need to be performed in order to get hangar space
for about two weeks, hopefully during the holiday period.)
Pencil drain fuel tanks - Awaiting Maintenance
Procure strut locks - Awaiting Maintenance Aircraft
Paint Prep - Awaiting Maintenance Removing Raytheon decals
Identify and treat corrosion and corrosion prone areas Sealing up
doors, hatches, panels Scuff sand aircraft Aircraft
Paint - Awaiting Maintenance Paint scheme - Original Paint
Procurment - NAS Whidbey Island and a possible donation Stencil
transfer paper - NAS Whidbey Island Cutting stencils - VAQ-129
Aircraft painting - VQ-2 and volunteers Stencil application -
VAQ-129/VQ-2 and volunteers
20 OCT 2011
18 OCT 2011
Today Jim, Jeff, Bill, Barney Ralph (and a little bit
of help from me during my lunch hour) they were able to mate
up the Duck Butt tail to '825.
The holes lined up, but there were some differences
between the way the two tails mount up. Nothing that a
little elbow grease from Active Duty Airframes muscle and
the retired old guys couldn't overcome.
VQ-2 Night Check Airframes cleaned, prepped and primed
the mating surfaces so they would be ready for install
With the tail on we now need to finish installing the
bolts and then get it ready to be sealed.
Jim and Jeff had to leave early, and with nothing more
to do to the tail Barny, Bill, AM3 Dinger and myself went at
removing the missile nose radome from the aircraft. "It's
easy" I said, and it was until me and AM3 had to remove the
radome. Seems "someone" forgot the two hidden bolts" (that's
AM3 Dinger removed them and within 5 minutes we had the
missile nose off the bird and on the deck.
I would not be supprised if Barny, Bill and AM3 Dinger
had the shark nose RA radome installed.
Work progresses, next up will be the removal of the wing
pylons and then to start fabricating patches to cover the
various wiring and cooling holes in the aircraft.
Barney, Ralph and AM2 Dinger
11 OCT 2011
- 29 June 2011 Meeting with
- 1. On 6/29/11 at 1300 hours, Ralph
Estes, Joe Hawkins and I met with Bill MacMillan (Airfield Mgr), CDR
Dan Worra (OPSO), Mark VanOort (Airfield Facilities Mgr), Kim Martin
(PAO), and Scarano (Air Terminal) to address the priorities of the
A-3 Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation. Bill MacMillan opened
with support for our efforts, and indicated an openness to address
our proposed modifications and possible airborne display, dependent
upon structural engineering analysis.
2. A packet was provided to each attendee which included: (1) a
cover photo of a NRA-3B with the bull nose and desired duck butt;
(2) second photo of a NRA-3B with no conduit on the starboard
fuselage; (3) a listing of our desired changes to the nose radome,
duck butt, paint scheme, bomb racks/fairings, conduit removal, and
engine preservation mod; (4) a listing of site plan display options,
including dirty configuration(s), dirty airborne and clean airborne
with our overall consensus desiring the latter clean and airborne
display; (5) list of applicable tech manuals; (6) sample of desired
support equipment nomenclature and part numbers; (7) sample part
requisition addressed to NNAM; and (8) our proposed "hold harmless
agreement" still with the legal office for review. We reiterated our
fundamental goal of providing an A-3 aircraft for display with a
1960's era presentation as expressed in our Constitution, By-Laws,
previous draft MOU, and as the foundation for our non-profit status
with the State of Washington and the IRS. A picture of many A-3s on
the NASWI flight line taxiing drew considerable interest, and
further provided a basis for our request.
3. After discussion about a letter to the National Naval Aviation
Museum (NNAM) to respond to the standard loan agreement, it was
determined that the A3SWMF would provide a summary within the next
ten days to list desired modfications to the 144825 airframe, that a
timetable for ready for display would be 01 October 2012, and all
desired configuration changes, need for parts/ equipment, desired
system functionality to be retained, and any other issues that
should be addressed to NNAM regarding this project. If anyone has
any specific issues which they feel should be addressed in our
letter/email to NASWI to be forwarded to NNAM, then feel free to
inform me prior to July 6, 2011. I will then prepare a response to
the NASWI request for everyone's review and comments, and shortly
thereafter provide the final draft to NASWI as soon as possible
therafter, but absolutely no later than July 11, 2011.
4. Of issue to NASWI, is the current status of fuel and oil
onboard 144825. Joe Hawkins will coordinate with Bill MacMillan,
et.al. to defuel the aircraft and remove all oil in order to
minimize the risk of any hazmat or environmental concerns.
5. By separate correspondence, Ralph received confirmation from
Ron W. that Raytheon does in fact still have the bull nose radome
and duck butt tail section. Bill MacMillan and CDR Worra indicated
that Ken Ballard was still on track to get those items to NASWI, to
include shipping data if I understood correctly. We have proposed
possible airborne mounting points to be the jack points on the
wings, tail and possibly nose section dependent upon a structural
engineering analysis for an airborne configuration situated only
four to six feet off the ground. There is an issue of whether a
fence will be required per the loan agreement; however, NASWI has
stated all along that they want the display accessible to the public
and are against having any fences.
6. The discussion and proposals do provide an opportunity (time)
to raise sufficient funding to cover the cost of our desired goals.
However, our projected expenses over the next year is substantial
and will require a bonafide effort on our part to raise possibly
another $80K (if not more). The Gateway Project cost $162.7K for two
aircraft, and included financial support from the City of Oak Harbor
(which does not apply to us). We may get some help from donated
labor/materials; however, we are in uncharted territory in that an
A-3 has never before been mounted in an airborne clean configuration
beyond wind tunnel testing. Ralph and I briefly discussed some of
our costs to include: (1) restoration materials (disposal material
used for sanding, taping, prepping, etc) $4 to 6K minimum per other
projects; (2) structural engineering design work, est $10 to 20K;
(3) structural site prep to include iron work, est $60K; (4) site
plan prep to include lighting/walkway, possible $6 to 8K; (5) marble
memorial, est $28K; and (6) pavers, est $6 to 10K. Thus, minimum
estimate of $114 to maximum estimate of $132K. Those numbers will
drop from donations by contractors; however, it provides a starting
point from which to work towards with regards to raising funds to do
it right. We still have not addressed any costs related to movement
of the aircraft from the flight line to the approved site location.
7. The CONA celebration on July 30th will permit a tent and table
at the A-3 aircraft flight line display as well as in the exhibit
section of the hangar. I have a 12' X 12' tent used for baseball
that will be available, and am looking at a portable table.
Brochures are in work with Jack Stiltz of Bay Printing and will
expect 2500 copies for under $500, as approved at our Saturday
meeting. Following the meeting Ralph and I visited several possible
routes from the NASWI flight line to get to the display site, and
there are no easy solutions based on trees, traffic lights, low
hanging cables/wires, street signs, etc. Overall, we are moving in
the right direction and just need to keep forging ahead until we get
the desired final result. Keep the pressure on any and all funding
Whales Forever, Bill Young
- From Ralph Estes,
Chairman A-3 to Whidbey Project
- IMPORTANT INFORMATION
- There is a Charter
Membership Meeting at 11:00 am, Saturday, June 18th at Flyers
Restaraunt in Oak Harbor, WA.
- Good afternoon all, this is a
quick update as to where the Foundation stands.
We have applied for our own non-profit status as the National A-3
Association wishes to drop us from their 501(3)(C) program so they
can get on with their other projects.
- A couple of items that are
paramount to our future.
- With the non-profit status we are
required by law to have current up to date by laws.
- Bill Young is updating them now.
- More importantly we must have:
- 1. A PRESIDENT
- 2. A TREASURER
- 3. A SECRETARY
- There may be other positions,
these come to mind immediately.
- Without these positions filled we
don't become a non-profit association.
- And frankly, I don't know what we
would do in that case.
The Law Firm of Skinner & Saar has been working with us in many
phases of our legal requirements.
- One of their attorneys, Leif
Johnson, has worked very close with us on this non-profit status and
other than the outright cost to the state and the federal government
they are doing this pro-bono.
Therefore, the purpose of this meeting is once we have you in the
room we simply won't let you out until we have all the officers we
need for meeting the Feds rules for non-profit status.
- Although I joke about this, it's
very serious, we must have these officers on board and in writing
before the feds will authorize our 501(3) (C) status.
We have several volunteers to work on the aircraft, however, we
have been asked not to work on the plane until after CONA.
- We do have one requirement to
complete by the 28th of July.
- A plaque on the side of the
aircraft that states the plane is on loan from the Naval Air Museum,
- I have the correct wording in
another e-mail and will bring it with me to the meeting.
- There may be some other
requirements by NASW before the meeting on the 18th.
Please drop me an e-mail if you will attend.
- Greg Tritt (owner of Flyers) has
given us a room again.
Please take this seriously and consider a position.
Also pass the word around about this meeting.
Thank you, Ralph Estes, Chairman A-3 to Whidbey Project.
- Location of Flyers
THE A-3 SKYWARRIOR WHIDBEY
To provide the means and solicit
funds to place the A-3 Aircraft on static display at the
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island
as a memorial to those who flew this aircraft, to
those who perished and those who
provided the support for the crews and their mission.
The purpose of this aircraft was
to preserve peace during the Cold War era,
to provide support for the
Vietnam and Gulf War.
The aircraft and its crews shall
not be forgotten.
Possible Display Configurations
Of The A-3 Skywarrior
On October 28, 1952 the Douglas Aircraft Corporation built A-3
Skywarrior aircraft took to the skies for the first time.
After retiring from the fleet in 1991, the “Whale” has
continued to fly for nearly six decades, performing in flight system
testing for the Raytheon Corporation in Van Nuys, CA.
The distinct sound of the two Pratt & Whitney J-57 engines
were often clearly and quickly identified as coming from an A-3 in
the groove, with LSO comments like “sounds good, keep it coming”.
Initially designed as a long range nuclear bomber, the
mission of the A-3 transitioned to heavy attack, and later
electronic countermeasures, electronic surveillance, photo
reconnaissance and in-flight refueling tanker aircraft.
Over time the lessons learned and many personnel from the A-3
community were transposed into A-6 Medium Attack Intruders and EA-6B
Electronic Attack Prowlers, and more recently into EA-18G Growlers.
Squadron designations evolved into VAH, VAQ, VAP, VQ, and
VAK. The two early
primary bases for A-3s were at Whidbey Island, Washington and
Who could comprehend a small “27-Charlie” carrier with a
dozen heavy attack Whales onboard?
During the Cold War and Vietnam Conflict, many lives were saved or
preserved by virtue of the A-3 aircraft and her crews performing
their missions, often with aircrew and maintenance personnel
creativity as new challenges evolved.
One late 1960’s deployment on the USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) reportedly
had 69 aircraft saved as a result of the reliable “Whale” delivering
fuel as needed.
Many a fighter/attack pilot found themselves seeking
“Texaco”, synonymous with “where is the A-3 or Whale?, on double
cycles or when the bolter pattern became full.
Now, the A-3 Whales are seeking another type of “Texaco” or face
certain demise at the hands of chippers.
The Navy has decided to remove the A-3 Skywarrior aircraft
from its inventory, and by May 1st, 2010 those remaining
assets will need to be destined for museums or static displays or
face being chipped into recycled metal on site in order to save
Three A-3s at Mojave Desert were recently destroyed and
lost forever from being preserved as a part of naval history.
What can we do?
Veterans from the Northwest and Whidbey Island area formed the A-3
Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation in conjunction with the A-3
Skywarrior Association and are making a strong effort to raise the
necessary funding to make a permanent display for one of the
remaining flyable assets.
The Whidbey Memorial Foundation has established a charter membership
through June 1st,
2010 for a minimum tax deductible donation of $125.
Ralph Estes, Bill Burklow, Jim VanderHoek and Bill Young
are leading the charge with the able assistance of many others.
Your help to “Save the Whale” is urgently needed at
Whidbey, Charleston, Mobile, Edwards, Castle and elsewhere, and time
is of the essence.
More information is available at the following websites:
The A-3 Skywarrior Whidbey Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 1402, Oak
Harbor, WA 98277.
The following are proposals of
three different Memorial Walkways from Bill Burklow.
Click on the pictures for a larger view
To view the
homecoming information and images of aircraft 144825 click here