FDOT to salvage weathered visitor center jets
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
All over the Pensacola area, there is plenty to see representing the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, but two jets along Interstate 10 are not currently up to standards.
As drivers make their way to Pensacola on Interstate 10 they are greeted by two Blue Angel jets; one coming from the east and one from the west.
They are weathered and have seen better days.
"They could get a little polish on there," Ciji Waton from Jacksonville said.
The planes look nothing like the ones flying in the 70th anniversary Homecoming Show.
"We want to make sure they represent the community, present the Blue Angels and the Navy in the best light possible," said Malorie Shelton, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
The jets are placed outside visitor centers, one in Beulah and one Milton. Because it deals with all the elements, the planes are to be maintained every five years, but these two haven't been touched in seven years.
"So two years kinda goes by quick, so I know the foundation is working with all the right groups to stay on top of it to represent the community and the Blue Angels in the best light possible," Shelton said.
Channel 3's Jackalyn Kovac noticed the shape the planes were in, and made a few calls. Lawmakers and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) then stepped in to get the ball rolling and cut through the red tape.
FDOT will give the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation $65,000 to fix the planes and create and agreement to care for the planes in the future.
"We need to keep it maintained and everything because it is a landmark for this area, for Florida," said Annabelle Wright.
"We want to make sure we get the job done, and get it correctly. So the first thing that we're going to discuss with the county are what the plans are and the actual work that needs done. So I think we're committed to being a good partner, making sure we get to an agreement so we can get the planes restored," said Jim Boxton, FDOT Secretary.
A big ticket item is the special paint that must weather all the conditions of Northwest Florida, from the salt water to rain to sunshine.
"They're us, they represent us. We want them to look good. We want people to know when they see those jets they're in Pensacola or almost in Pensacola. So it's really great that enough people noticed that and noticed it needs to be done," said Rep. Clay Ingram.
As of Friday, crews have started work on the poles at the base of the planes.
Right now, there is no time table as to when work on the jets will be started.