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Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum adds new aircraft

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:44 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum added a new aircraft on Tuesday. It’s the first new one in 15 years.

The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk is a stealth aircraft and the one at the museum was one of 64 in its fleet. The US retired them in 2008.

Getting this aircraft has been years in the making. The process started in 2018.

“We found out late last year that we would have it in spring,” said Brian York, Curator at the SAC Museum. “It got delayed a little bit, then we got a call to get it here in May.”

The Nighthawk came in pieces, first the wings two months ago, then the body arriving just this Sunday after a five-and-a-half day trek from Nevada.

Tuesday was assembly day.

“Assembling an airplane like this is not what we normally do,” said Dan Kirwan, Saturday Restoration Supervisor at SAC Museum. “This is an unusual day for us today.”

The Nebraska National Guard was called in to help attach the wings and tail.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Airman 1st Class Jacob Emmons, a maintainer with the 155th Mission Support Group, NE Air National Guard. “It’s something I could never even imagine helping on.”

“We have about two years of restoration work, fabrication and repainting,” said York.

The original paint, and several parts, did not come with the aircraft because its classified information. Everything about the aircraft was designed to avoid detection from the sharp angles to the radar absorbing paint.

“It’s classified as a fighter aircraft, but it’s traditionally been used solely as a bomber,” said York. “It’s one of the most advanced aircraft that disappears on radar.”

After assembly on Tuesday, the SAC museum will rope the aircraft off and will be available to visitors as soon as this weekend.

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