SPAD, Mural to be Unveiled at Air Show

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Lovers of historic aircraft will be in their glory during the 2009 Selfridge Air Show & Open House. 

Volunteers from the Selfridge Military Air Museum will be dedicating their hand-built replica of a World War I-era SPAD XIII aircraft during the Air Show's Launch Party on Friday, Aug. 21, as well as unveiling an 8-foot x 16-foot mural depicting the SPAD in various WWI-era markings, all of which have a direct tie to the early days at what was then known as Selfridge Field. 

"The detail achieved (on the SPAD) is second to none," said Roger Krings, assistant director of the Selfridge museum and coordinator of the SPAD building project, which began in March 2006. 

The mural, painted by local artist Richard Soules, will be displayed in the SPAD Hangar at the Museum, along with photos of the SPAD being built and information on the aircraft. The mural depicts SPADs in the markings of the 103rd "Indian Chiefs" Aero Squadron; the 95th "Kicking Mules" Aero Squadron; the 27th "American Eagles" Aero Squadron; and the 94th "Hat in the Ring" Aero Squadron, complete with the image of its most famous member, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. All four of those squadrons were brought together after the conclusion of World War I, which ended in 1919, and became the 1st Pursuit Group, which was based at Selfridge. The center image of the mural depicts a SPAD as it would have looked in 1922 flying out of Selfridge. 

"We researched the history on all these units and we have a mural that tells an important part of not only Selfridge history, but aviation history," Krings said. 

The Selfridge Military Area Museum is visited by more than 12,000 people in a typical year and is open April - October, noon-4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on Independence Day and Memorial Day. Visits at other times area available by prior arrangement. The museum has more than two dozen aircraft on the grounds, an F-16 cockpit simulator and scores of uniforms, weapons, paintings, photographs and other memorabilia. 

A "work-in-progress" version of the SPAD - which stands for Societe Pour L'Aviation et ses Derives - was on display during the 2007 Air Show & Open House. At that point, the entire "skin" of the aircraft was not yet attached and many of the details were not yet in place. 

The SPAD replica took more than 23,000 total hours of volunteer time to build, Krings said. 

In addition to the SPAD, include a World War II-era B-25 Mitchell bomber and a Korean War-era F-86 Sabre. In 1950, an F-86 became the first jet aircraft to be based at Selfridge. The Starfighters, a civilian demonstration team flying the F-104 Starfighter, which entered military service in the late 1950s and saw action in Vietnam, will also be part of the Air Show program. 

The Selfridge Air Show & Open House will be Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 22-23. The gates will open both days at 8 a.m., with the flying starting both days around 10 a.m. Among the highlights of the show will be a aerial demonstration by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. 

A list of aircraft scheduled to perform appears at www.selfridgeairshow.org. Additional information on the museum is available at www.selfridgeairmuseum.org. The museum can also be reached at (586) 239-5035.