My father, Don Moyer, Sr,
always loved airplanes, and when he turned 18, he joined the local Air
National Guard unit, the 121st at Andrews Air Force Base.
This was 1953, and he began working as a technician, servicing
F-51ís left over from WWII. The unit quickly moved on to F-86ís, and by the time he
left the service in 1961, they had converted to F-100s. Dad knew that the F-86ís he had serviced (from Aís
to Hís) were being scraped, so he wrote a letter to the Pentagon, to
ďwhom it may concernĒ requesting an F-86 for public display in our
community. Months later he
received a reply that informed him that he was to take possession of F-86H
52-2044 from the 167th ANG in Martinsburg, WV.
This particular plane bore the nose art ďHowdy-Doody.Ē
In May, 1961, my father,
grandfather, and a number of volunteers picked up the plane from the ANG
and transported it back to our community in Front Royal, VA.
Its engine and guns had been removed, but it was otherwise
complete, and it was only six years old at the time!
It was reassembled and publicly displayed for several years.
During this time it received extensive vandal damage, including
being shot-at and having all the cockpit glass smashed.
In about 1968, Don decided to disassemble the plane for long-term
storage. He was able to
remove and store most small parts, but the bulk of the airframe remained
Also in 1968, it came to
Donís attention that 52-2040, also from the 167th ANG, had
been donated to a community some 35 miles away, and it had met similar
vandal damage. They had begun
to scrap the plane, and had hacked the wings and tail off with a torch.
Don was able to secure that plane, and moved it back to his
property along with 52-2044. Because
the wings had been cut outside of the landing gear, Dad was able to tow
the plane home with our family Cadillac.
Dad dreamed of building a
museum to house these planes, along with several dozen antique cars and
other curiosities, but he was not able to do that.
He passed away in 1992. Since that time the operator of the local
airport had requested that we allow him to display 52-2044 as a memorial
to our fathers dream. We
agreed that this would be a fine use for the old plane, and transported it
the airport. Donís
sons, Walt and Don, Jr , as well as several volunteers reconstructed the
plane there in July, 2000. It
was dedicated during a fly-in at the airport, and was rolled down the
runway for the first time in nearly forty years.
There is still much work to be done to bring it back into ideal
display condition, but after 30 years of storage, itís just nice to see
it back together again. Itís
a good feeling to know that Dadís dream is still alive.
More details about this plane are available on Duncan Curtisí fine F-86 website located at