Sembach Annex Loses Its Last Aircraft

December 6th, 2010

Since 1973, an F-86F Sabre has been displayed on the plinth across from the Sembach AB Chapel. The very same plinth that was formerly the home of a Mace missile.

Sembach - 1999

Sembach - 1965 (photo courtesy of Victoria Ertz)

Now that U.S. Army has assumed control of Sembach Annex, the F-86F is being relocated to Ramstein AB.

F-86F to be reunited with 86 AW

by By Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/6/2010 – RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Airmen from Ramstein came together to begin a restoration project Nov. 30, which will bring an F-86F aircraft from Sembach Annex to be on display here in the near future.  The project is a team effort between the 86th Maintenance Squadron, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 786th Civil Engineer Squadron to return a piece of Air Force heritage back to Ramstein since the aircraft was mounted in Sembach in 1973.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brea Miller)

“It’s their appreciation of Air Force history and heritage that enabled the rescue of this aircraft,” said James Fitzpatrick, 86th Civil Engineer Group deputy commander. “If not for the love of their craft, confidence in their expertise and willingness to accept the risk of transporting the F-86F, we would have needed to hire a contractor at a cost of several thousand dollars.”

With the transfer of Sembach Annex to the Army, this was a perfect opportunity to move the F-86F back to the 86th Airlift Wing where it can be proudly displayed, said Lt. Col. Richard Gibbs, 86th Maintenance Group deputy commander.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brea Miller)

“The 86th AW has a proud heritage, and the F-86 was a part of that,” he said. “The F-86s were flown during the 1950s in what was then the 86th Fighter-Bomber Wing and, later, then re-designated 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing.”

The relocation process began when the units removed the aircraft from a concrete display base using a sling and harness attached to a crane. When on the ground, the following days allowed the aircraft to be carefully disassembled for transport via truck to a small hangar on Ramstein.

“The transportation team has been anxiously awaiting the transfer of the F-86,” said Capt. Christine Stevens, 86th VRS operations officer. “After the maintenance group has done their part, VRS Airmen will be ready on scene to load up and move the big pieces of the aircraft back to its home on Ramstein.”

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brea Miller)

VRS will be using two 40-foot flatbed tractor trailers to support the movement and are responsible for securing the wings, fuselage and tail parts.

“This aircraft represents a legacy of airpower,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Berrier, 86th VRS assistant chief dispatcher. “The safe and efficient movement of this asset is a way for our Airmen to pay tribute to those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country from past to current conflicts.”

Once on Ramstein, the aircraft will then be evaluated, reassembled and refurbished.  “The maintenance team will first need to assess the condition of the aircraft to determine exactly what work needs to be done during the refurbishment,” Colonel Gibbs said. “We plan to paint it the same color scheme you would have seen, had you been here on the flight line in 1952.”

Upon completion of refurbishment, the CEG plans to locate the stand and aircraft in one of the larger traffic circles near the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center.

“I’m proud of the work done by our maintenance team in less than ideal weather conditions and I feel honored that our team could be a part of bringing this piece of 86th AW history home,” Colonel Gibbs said.

Ramstein AB Website Article