Behind every successful project, there is a group of dedicated people who find the drive to keep on going even when the going gets tough. The key to a successful project—regardless of its nature, whether it be advocacy-based, profit-driven, large-scale, small-scale, or whatever-scale, is human effort and perseverance. It is a group of people who have the grit to put on and lace up their work boots even on days that they don’t feel like working. The OV-10 Squadron project is no exception to this rule. Our team is a team of dedicated and hard-working individuals, upon whose shoulders rest the overall success of our mission.

Quick Engine Change (QEC)

Nestled in one of the hangers at the San Bernardino County Chino Airport, Brian, one of our team members on the OV-10 Bronco project saddles up for another day of work. The day contains tasks that are as exhilarating as usual: cataloguing and separating hordes upon hordes of boxes that have come with the air frames.

These tasks may seem droning, but they are vital tasks nonetheless. These tasks are carried out by a crew that is the best of the best in the war bird business. Brian has extensive experience, having been able to be part of the restoration project for the P-51 Mustang “Bunny” from 2013 to 2016. Bunny is now proudly displayed in the Palm Springs Air Museum in California. Aside from Bunny, Brian also had a chance to work on Army One in Chino, the famed helicopter used by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

Top: Alex, heat gun in hand, scrapes the mothballing away on an OV-10. Bottom: Eloy hard at work under the hot California sun.

They’re getting started on removing the cocoon of mothballing from the openings of the wings and fuselage. “It takes time and sometimes it isn’t very quick,” Brian says. Nonetheless, his dedication is unfazed. “It’s not all coming off in big pieces, but it all has to come off some time so today is the day to start.”

Work has begun on removing the access panels on the wings to reach the wing fuel tanks. Inside the fuel tanks is a layer of mush that once existed as foam. All this has to be removed and cleaned up.

“We shipped off the engines to the rebuilder last week, stripping the QEC’s down to the parts they wanted for their job.” Brian says. He admits that it isn’t glorious work, but it is all necessary.

Restoring a Vietnam War-era aircraft is no easy work. Even if it was meant to be easily handled by simple hand tools on the field during its time, the task of bringing a plane like the OV-10 Bronco back up to pristine and working conditions is enough to make a person’s head spin. Progress is made by the scrape, and in baby steps.

But it is worth it, and the people participating in the project know its worth. They’re taking part in restoring a small, but critical piece of American history both in the military and in aviation. What they’re working on is an aircraft that undoubtedly has a place in the hearts and minds of military personnel and civilians alike.

This is the OV-10 Bronco, a plane that has fought, served and crashed in the battles of this country. Come mothballing or mush, it will fly and soar the skies once again.