South Hills man restores original Air Force One

Published Aug 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm (Updated Aug 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm)

For the past three years, preserving the looks of the first presidential aircraft has been the job of a Whitehall man. In August, Doug Parfitt, 52, took his annual summer trip to Seattle’s Museum of Flight so he can polish and maintain what was President Dwight Eisenhower’s first “flying Oval Office.”

The Boeing 707-120, also known as SAM (Special Air Missions) 970, was delivered to Eisenhower in 1959, and was in service with the president until 1962. It was then replaced as the President’s primary air transportation, but remained in service to ferry VIPs and the Vice-President until 1996.

“These things are out in the weather, bare metal sitting out on the tarmac, taking a beating. So you need to come back every year and remove the oxidation, the UV ray damage – and paint where appropriate,” Parfitt said.

Parfitt’s local company, Eye For Detail Mobile Auto Detailing, was able to secure a yearly contract with the Museum of Flight to keep some of the aircraft in top shape after he trained with the master detailer of Air Force One.

“I trained with Renny Doyle in 2010. He’s been working with the museum since 2003. So, he selects a detailing team out of the hundreds he’s trained over the years; one that’s comfortable with such a massive project and one that has the work ethic to see it through,” Parfitt said.

“This is my third year out there working on Air Force One. The biggest issue (with a team) of 30 workers is getting everyone to perform the same level of correction so the whole plane looks the same not patchy work, like a quilt,” he said.

“I’m proud and honored to be one of a handful responsible for the preservation of these priceless, irreplaceable pieces of aviation history.”

As for if the plane will ever fly again, Parfitt said the plane could be put into service by the Air Force, but the costs are so high, it will likely never be in the air again.

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