Volunteers for the McChord Air Museum, located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington have recently completed a 25 year restoration project on a Canadian Vickers SA-10 Catalina, a variant of the Consolidated PBY Catalina, for which they were awarded a Air Mobility Command Heritage Award.
The award recognizes outstanding achievement by the museum’s personnel in preserving and promoting the history and heritage of the US Air Force. For more than 25 years, volunteers from the McChord Air Museum worked to restore the SA-10 which had crashed in Wisconsin in 1983. It was delivered to the museum in December 1987 and was completed in November 2012. The restored aircraft represents a SA-10 from the 4th Air Rescue Squadron that was assigned to McChord in 1948-1950.
The restoration of the aircraft took more than 30,000 man-hours to complete. Volunteers had to repair, remanufacture and/or refabricate nearly every section of the aircraft. An additional 400 hours of research went into ensuring every aspect of the aircraft was authentically restored. The McChord Air Museum has only one paid staff member and is mostly comprised of retired military veterans that volunteer daily. These volunteers work more than 9,500 hours each year supporting various projects. Currently, there are more than 15 volunteers, many of whom are between 80 and 90 years old.
The SA-10 is one of 15 restored aircraft now placed at the museum’s Heritage Hill Airpark and includes a C-124C Globemaster and C-141B StarLifter, a B-23 Dragon, C-47 Skytrain, C-82A Packet, T-33 Shooting Star, F-86 Sabre, F-102 Delta Dagger, CF-101 VooDoo, F-106 Delta Dart, F-15 Eagle, and an A-10 Thunderbolt II representing some of the aircraft that have been stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in its history.