WAPAKONETA — For the first time since it’s arrival at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, the F-5D Skylancer has left the museum to be restored in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
The plane was loaded onto a flatbed truck Monday by crane and left the museum Tuesday morning to be taken to Copley to have the exterior, cockpit canopy and cockpit interior restored, said Brittany Venturella, exhibit technician at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.
“It has not been fully restored since we had it,” she said. “I’m sure they’re going to clean it and restore any parts that need to be fixed.”
The Intermuseum Conservation Association will be directing the restoration project and restoring the cockpit interior, Venturella said. Thomarios will be handling paint restoration on the Skylancer’s exterior, she said.
Neil Armstrong flew the F-5D Skylancer during experiments involving a maneuver that simulated the Boeing X-20, the precursor to the space shuttle, losing power during take off and landing safely, Venturella said, adding the Skylancer had a similar drag-to-lift ratio as the X-20, which is why it was used during the experiments.
Armstrong would fly the Skylancer up to 1,000 feet parallel to the ground. Once he reached the desired altitude he would take the plane vertical in rapid acceleration, she said. He would then decelerate rapidly, allow the craft to turn over so his head was facing the ground, open the landing gear and drift to a landing, Venturella said.
They were so dedicated to simulating being in an X-20 they rigged the canopy of the Skylancer and the pilot’s helmet to alter the visual during testing, she said. The Skylancer canopy was more open then an X-20 cockpit, so they applied an amber mask to the Skylancer canopy and a blue visor to the pilot helmets. Before running experiments, pilots, including Armstrong, would drop the visor and that combined with the canopy mask would simulate looking out a X-20 cockpit, Venturella said.
“We’re excited to have it [the Skylancer] by 2019 for the 50th anniversary,” Venturella said. “It’s a very important part in telling the story of Neil Armstrong.”
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