NEWS | Jan. 7, 2015

Bridging history: C-141 receives fresh paint job

By Senior Airman Tom Brading 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Historical preservation on the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter at the Joint Base Charleston Air Park is currently underway and scheduled for completion within the next two weeks, weather permitting.

The two-tone aircraft will be re-painted with the same grey and white paint scheme it sported while operational. The contracting company painting the aircraft is ensuring the paint scheme's historical accuracy by working closely with Stanley Gohl, 437th Airlift Wing historian, and looking through the aircraft's original Technical Orders.

C-141s, strategic airlifters for the U.S. Air Force, were in operation from 1966 until 2000. The C-141 at the Air Base, along Arthur Drive, faces the flight line as if it is watching its successors, the C-17 Globemaster III's as they're dispatched on missions around the globe.

For some, the static aircraft is just a memento of a different era. But, for many others, it's much more. It's woven into the Air Force culture and helps bridge the past into today's Air Force. 

"For a lot of veterans within our military community, the C-141 represents their blood, sweat and tears," said Gohl. "They maintained it, cared for it and flew it on missions around the world."

The aircraft revolutionized military airlift with its in-flight refueling capability and ability to airlift troops over long distances, supply troops with equipment by land and air, and evacuating and transporting wounded troops from hostile areas.

The C-141's importance to JB Charleston dates back to August 14, 1965, until the last one departed June 15, 2000. The aircraft on display today was retired Sept. 1993, with a formal ceremony after its final flight by Brig. Gen. Thomas Mikolajcik, who was the 437th Airlift Wing commander at the time. It was also the first C-141 to reach more than 40,000 flying hours.

"It's vital for the Airmen of JB Charleston to see the aircraft at the Air Park for what they are," said Gohl. "They're a tangible piece of their culture. They can touch it and grasp the culture right in front of them, and preserving those aircraft is crucial to maintaining that bridge of history."