Portland man gets Air Force One mission
President Joe Biden won't be peeking out the window to watch, it doesn't take flight and it's basically a relic from the late 1950s, but an Air Force One airplane in a Seattle museum still sits as a significant part of U.S. history.
And Greg Pagh of Portland gets the opportunity to work on it.
As part of annual maintenance, a crew of detailers cleans and polishes planes at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. One of those planes is a Boeing 707-120 that became the first jet-powered Air Force One and was used during Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency in the 1950s.
Ike flew in it, as did presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. For the past several years, it's been an attraction at the Museum of Flight, and each year it needs maintenance — even more in 2021 because crews had to skip work during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
It's maintained by master automotive and aircraft detailer Renny Doyle of Detailing Success and his volunteer workers. Doyle holds training sessions in detailing. Pagh and son Joe have trained and become part of Doyle's network dubbed The Detail Mafia. Once you're a "made man," you're part of the Doyle family.
Doyle called on Pagh to be part of a 20-person crew to take care of Air Force One, as well as the museum's B-29 Super Fortress bomber that flew missions in World War II.
Pagh, who owns Portland Pro Detail, gladly accepted the invitation. He'll be helping with detailing Sunday, July 11, through Sunday, July 18.
"It's an honor to take care of these planes," Pagh said. "The B-29 bomber was flown in World War II. Air Force One was the first jet-powered plane out there. Now it's a museum piece.
"It's a heck of an honor. There's only a handful of people in the world who get to go do this stuff, and I wanted to give back to my community and the museum. And, I know we'll get a heck of a history lesson once we're up there."
Pagh, 56, specializes in paint correction and long-term protection for motor vehicles, particularly with ceramic coating. He does detailing inside and outside of vehicles.
Air Force One and other planes are presented in an open-air pavilion at the Museum of Flight, located at the southern end of the King County International Airport, just south of Seattle in Tukwila, Washington. Aluminum planes become oxidized from weather, especially unpainted parts, and the planes need to be cleaned and detailed annually to bring back the shine and new-plane look.
Pagh said such a plane has been painted with single-stage paint and covered with clear coating that protects color. But the Seattle weather leads to paint color fading and exposed aluminum oxidizing.
Pagh enters the project willing to do anything.
"I'm a rookie," he said. "I'll probably work on Air Force One and paint rather than aluminum, which is a tricky substrate to work on.
"This is going to be good. There's a lot of camaraderie with guys, I enjoy being around them. It'll be a good time, and worthwhile."
"I have chosen Greg for the 2021 team because of his experience and commitment to the art of detailing," Doyle said. "These are priceless vintage aircraft, and there is no room for mistakes. I trust him and his eye for perfection and look forward to having him on the team this year."
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