Century Aviation

F/A-18A Hornet


National Museum of the Marine Corps
Triangle, VA

This Hornet is owned by the National Museum of the Marine Corps located in Triangle, VA near the Marine Corps Base Quantico. This Hornet has a great history. It was the first Marine Corps aircraft to be launched after the attacks on 911. It patrolled the skies around Washington, DC for the next two days.

The NMMC acquired this plane and looked to display it on a stand at a 45 degree left bank with the nose up 5 degrees in the new section of the museum that will tell the story of the Marine Corps F/A-18A’s in the Gulf War.

Our project was three-fold:

  1. To restore the Hornet to display readiness.
  2. Engineer, design, manufacture and install the display stand
  3. Install aircraft on the stand

For the first phase we transported the Hornet to our shop.  We opened every compartment to remove dirt and grease.  We cleaned the exterior, cleaning and de-greasing all surfaces and landing gear.  We de-crazed the canopy by polishing and cleaned the interior of the cockpit.  We then sanded, primed and repainted the F-18 in new colors and markings to show F/A-18A Hornets as they appeared in Desert Storm.

The F/A-18A remained in storage until the new wing of the museum was ready.

For the next two sections we partnered with our rigging company, iWeiss Theatrical Solutions.

The stand was built in two parts. The main stand was engineered and designed byClark-Reder Engineering, Inc., Cincinnati, OH. The attachment to the F-18 itself was designed by Pacific Engineering & Design, PLLC, Wenatchee, WA.  The attachment to the aircraft was built by Century Aviation and iWeiss who contracted having the stand built.

To deliver the Hornet to Quantico we disassembled the aircraft into fuselage, wings, verticals and horizontals. Executive Flight INC. at the Pangborn Memorial Airport was great. The allowed us to use their large hangar so that we could disassemble and load the aircraft indoors.  The wings, verticals, nose cone and horizontals we loaded onto one commercial flatbed trailer and this trailer left for Virginia.  The fuselage and some small parts were loaded onto a second commercial flatbed a week later.  This allowed the wings, etc. to arrive and be unloaded before the fuselage arrived.

When the crews arrived at the Museum, Century Aviation, iWeiss Theatrical Solutions and the NMMC Restoration staff, the first assignment was to attach the load bearing beams to the roof structure.  The Final Phase of the Museum had progressed to the point that the roof was already installed by the time the concrete flooring could take the weight of the fuselage and flatbed.  The four 10 ton chain hoists were then placed on the beams.

The next task was to bring the flatbed and the fuselage into the museum and position it in as close as possible to the lifting area.  With the F-18 in this position the tractor could leave the area and we reassembled the aircraft on the flatbed trailer.

When the Hornet was fully assembled and the hoists were attached, we started to lift the aircraft into its position with a 45 degree left bank, nose up 5 degrees.

With the aircraft at the correct position we installed the stand and adjusted the F-18’s attitude to mate the aircraft and the stand.

We finished installing all of the accessories and painted the stand to match.  Our last task was to wrap the Hornet in plastic to keep it safe until the building and exhibit are finished around it.