F-5E Re-Assembly


This aircraft was brought to Minnesota by AWAM volunteers in April, 2006, using a semi tractor on loan from volunteer, Don Larson, and a drop-deck trailer leased from a local excavating company.  Help from the Navy in loading the aircraft and use of AWAM volunteers to transport and unload the aircraft, kept the total costs for the acquisition as low as possible.

AWAM is fortunate to have acquired a number of lifting devices donated by local individuals and from the State of Minnesota Surplus, which are invaluable to efforts such as this to off-load and re-assemble everything.  Several months elapsed between the aircraft’s arrival at AWAM and the actual re-assembly, allowing our volunteers to evaluate the aircraft’s status, parts availability and to develop a safe, workable plan for re-attaching the wings, dropping the main gear and installing other key parts.  (This was also air show season, so manpower is always stretched thin and taut during the summer months.)

By September, everything was in place and the team was ready to go.  Using frame hoists, a lifting crane and great deal of ingenuity, the aircraft was slowly put back on its gear.  The aircraft had been transported with the nose gear down for stability and to keep the tail low (for underpasses) but it needed to be put on its mains – which are part of the wing.  

  To install the wing, which is a one-piece assembly, the fuselage needed to be lifted high enough not just for the wing, but to be able to extend the gear as well.  But first things first – let’s get the wing on.

While this is normally (and properly) done using lifting eyes installed at the proper points along the fuselage, when you don’t have and cannot obtain those, you improvise – and that is what the team did – around


Now we had to raise the aircraft high enough to allow the gear to fully extend.  Due to the center of gravity of the aircraft, a sling from our wrecker was placed just in front of the air intakes, and both hoists placed at the rear of the aircraft.



Still, some gentle persuasion was needed to properly align the wing bolt holes with the fuselage.  By moving both the wing and the fuselage, the team managed to finally and painstakingly align and install the wing bolts.