By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It was time for the No. 5 Blue Angel jet to return home to Millington.
But before the iconic plane would be placed in its new resting spot at the Millington Memphis Airport, the jet was taken from its guest home of Visual Perfection located at 5194 Elmore Road in Memphis.
The Blue Angel jet recently underwent restoration and renovations at the auto body repair shop owned by James Jones. Jones and crew were alongside the Millington Police Department and 20 motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders escorting the jet Saturday morning.
“It’s a respect thing,” Patriot Rider David Bates said. “It’s to pay tribute and honor the people in the military. Most of us have served and have family who served. It’s a way to pay back the community and what they’ve done.”
The American Flag waved under the Millington morning sun as spectators gathered from across the Mid-South for photo-ops with the jet before it was taken to the main terminal of the Airport.
The 61-year-old Grumman F-11f “Longnose” Tiger jet used to call Navy Road home for several years.
“A lot of people were concerned when it disappeared off Navy Road,” Millington Mayor Terry Jones said. “‘Who took our plane?’ When they found out it was getting repainted and ready to relocate it, it’s going to be a symbol to see for anybody who comes to the Millington-Memphis Airport.
“Now they’ll get to see that which a big part of the history here is in Millington,” he added. “The Navy has been here for 100 years.”
Millington Memphis Airport executive director Roy Remington and the Airport Authority kept that history in mind when starting efforts to keep the jet in Flag City.
The Navy wanted to bring the plane to the base in Pensacola. Remington and the members of the Airport Authority wanted to keep the plane and the aircraft displayed in a respectful manner. After some research, the crew at Visual Perfection disassembled the plane.
Then came steps including chemically stripping it, applying the primer, adding a black sealer and painting on the well-known blue and gold.
Saturday morning at 10:30 it was time to escort the Blue Angel jet to a hero’s welcome provided by the Millington Fire Department.
“Just an awesome effort, Roy Remington over at the Airport put in a lot of energy in getting that here,” Mayor Jones concluded. “Just the effort they all put in was awesome. The fruition of it today being put up on a pedestal at our Airport is great.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.