Reborn on the Fourth of July Page 4

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20mm:. What do you intend to use the Phantom for when it’s done?

Ben G: It’s a backdrop for my aviation photo business, so it will towed to various places and events and a lot of people will have an opportunity to see it, climb up on the side, look inside the cockpits.

20mm:. Sounds great, the old jet will be inspiring a future Robin Olds.

Ben G: Could be, you just never know.

20mm:. Let’s see, you were telling us you had purchased the F4 cockpit section, the “gate guard”.

Ben G: Right, the gate guard.

Well, I had a Phantom cockpit section, but it was a long ways from home. And I found out that hauling this kind of a heavy load was darned expensive. I finally found a trucking company that would haul it as a partial load for half the price. It took 4 days for the trip from Arizona to Virginia. I will never forget the feeling when the jet arrived . It was like having Christmas in June. It took about an hour to remove the F-4 and place it on a heavy euipment trailer.

F-4 On Rig. IT'S MINE NOW!

Man, that 22 foot long piece of F-4 was heavy! The cockpit section alone weighed around four tons. The whole aircraft was about fifteen tons when she was flying. Hard to imagine such a heavy machine could fly, much less go twice the speed of sound. Says a lot about the two engines it had.

I kept the airplane on its side like a beached whale while I removed any unneeded weight like landing gear, drag brace, gear doors, liquid ox tank, hydraulic manifold system, other parts. The aircraft had ballast in the avionics bays that were removed and a pneumatic generator. All in all, I removed quite a bit of weight, 2,300 pounds to be exact.

The crane was started and F-4 gently flipped over right side up. My biggest concern about trying to turn this big heavy cockpit was not breaking anything, especially the canopies because of the high cost to replace them. The F-4 was pulled to my house where I trimmed out the back and fabricated a cap off panel. I also had to fabricate a panel on the port side to replace a damaged one. I repaired a panel that housed the avionics behind the rear cockpit. After that I stripped the paint off the fuselage and make other minor repairs.

Before Making a Cap Off. Capping Off Rear Frame.
Cap Off Complete.

I finished the repairs 6 months later and pulled it back to my brothers shop. For the next few weeks the F-4 was prepared for paint and painted. The summer came and went and I needed a trailer. I had a metal fabrication shop to build the basic frame and had picked the finished frame by October. In order to haul the F-4 got a Powerstoke E-350 box style van that also needed a few repairs.

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