New England Air Museum Restores Record-breaking Aircraft

There’s a “new” airplane now on display at the New England Air Museum.  After many years of restoration work, this Lockheed F-104C Starfighter was recently moved from the Museum’s restoration hangar to the military display hangar. 

This aircraft served with the U.S. Air Force through the 1960s at the height of the Cold War, and was deployed in 1961 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  In 1962 it set the altitude and speed record for an operational F-104C while stationed in Hahn, Germany with the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing, reaching 92,000 feet and a speed of Mach 2.5. It later served in Viet Nam providing cover for air combat missions.  

This Starfighter was heavily damaged in the 1979 tornado which devastated the Museum.  It had been in storage until November of 2009 when the restoration project began.  Harry Newman, a resident of New Fairfield, CT, is the team leader for this restoration effort.  Newman is retired from IBM and has been a volunteer at the Museum since 2005 where he now devotes 1-3 days a week.  "The Lockheed Starfighter was a spectacular aircraft when it went into service in the 1950's and its performance remains impressive even by today's standards.  Our team jumped at the opportunity to bring it back to display condition and put thousands of hours into the restoration.  The majority of our volunteers are retired from careers in Connecticut industries and this was a wonderful way to give back to our community.  It was an exciting day when we finally rolled the Starfighter out of the restoration facility onto the display floor," said Newman.  “As you can see by the expert work done on this aircraft that ours is the finest restoration crew around.  The dedication, commitment of time and talent to this and all of our restoration projects is invaluable,” said Mike Speciale, the Museum’s executive director.

The New England Air Museum is located by Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.  Call the Museum at (860) 623-3305 or visit the Museum’s website for hours, admission and directions.