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Detailer continues work to restore Air Force One

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 10:24 a.m.
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Douglas C. Parfitt of Whitehall went from food service to detailing cars, and in turn took that skill to volunteer efforts to restore classic vintage aircraft, such as the original Air Force One on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

An area car detailer returned to Seattle recently for another crack at restoring the original Air Force One and other vintage aircraft.

“This is a continued project that goes on and on for these historic planes,” said Douglas C. Parfitt after returning home to Whitehall this week. “These planes are a priceless part of history.”

Parfitt also has a home in Forward Township and relatives in the Mon-Yough area.

He first was involved with work at Seattle's Museum of Flight in 2011. This time, he was a team leader for a group of 30 volunteers, headed up once again by California-based auto detailer Renny Doyle.

“This is my legacy as a detailer and I am proud to share the experience,” Doyle said.

The plane dates back to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. For insurance purposes it has a value of $100 million.

“It is considered flight worthy but it would take a lot of money to put it into the air,” Parfitt said. “These nonprofits and these museums and these curators do not have the money to maintain these planes.”

It would take a quarter of a million dollars just to repaint the plane, Parfitt said, adding that in two years there has been a lot of oxidation and corrosion.

“We polished every piece of paint and every piece of aluminum on that plane,” Parfitt said.

“There are a lot of moving parts that go into it,” Doyle said. “The height alone is staggering and requires a cherry picker to reach the top of the vertical stabilizer.”

The team had other aircraft to tackle.

“We basically detailed the original Boeing 737,” Parfitt said. “It actually had serial number 1. It was made by Boeing and it was given to NASA for training purposes.”

Doyle and Parfitt's crew worked on a B-47 Stratojet bomber, a Boeing aircraft whose mission would have been to drop nuclear bombs on the old Soviet Union. It remained part of the Air Force's Strategic Air Command until 1965.

Parked next to the original Air Force One was one of the last Concordes to be flown successfully before the joint British-French line of supersonic transports was shut down in 2003. It is on a future rehab list for Parfitt's crew.

“The goal is to do it next August,” Parfitt said. “Aug. 10 is about the driest time of year there.”

Meanwhile, Parfitt will go back to his day job, taking Eye for Detail to locations throughout the Pittsburgh area.

It is a business he started after a career in food service.

“It's been a passion of mine and something I really love,” Parfitt said in 2011. “The more I did, the more skills I wanted to learn to make it better. I really thought I could do this for a living as well.”

More details about the plane Parfitt's crew detailed can be found at http://www.museumofflight.org/air-force-one.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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