AFMC Command News

Flyover debuts new paint scheme for 586 FLTS jet

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks

The timing couldn’t have been better.

It just so happened that one of the T-38 jets flown by the 586th Flight Test Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, was in need of a new paint job as the 70th anniversary of both the Air Force Test Center and Arnold Engineering Development Complex approached.

It also happened that this aircraft was set to take to the skies over the AEDC headquarters at Arnold Air Force Base during a retreat ceremony June 26.

The new paint scheme for the 586 FLTS jet commemorates the 70th anniversary of the AFTC, which was established on June 25, 1951, the same date President Harry Truman visited Arnold AFB to dedicate the AEDC.

 “I thought this would be a great time to get the jet painted in a unique way to celebrate our mission, improve morale and spark conversation with our customers about our capabilities and heritage while showing our pride,” said Lt. Col. Scott Pontzer, 586 FLTS director of operations. “With it being the 70th anniversary, it seems appropriate to leverage this timing and opportunity and make a connection between the two.”

The 586 FLTS is part of the Holloman AFB-headquartered 704th Test Group, which is a unit of AEDC. AEDC is a unit of the AFTC.

The dark and light grey paint that previously adorned the body of the jet was replaced with a uniform chrome coloring. White paint was used to decorate the wings. The U.S. Air Force roundels and the 586 FLTS patch gracing the jet have a little more “pop,” as they now feature their official colors, a stark contrast to the indistinct markings previously found on the aircraft. Test orange striping was applied to the front and tail of the jet. The AFTC insignia, embedded in a black chevron, now bedecks the tail of the jet.

It was an opportune time to give the aircraft a fresh coat, as it was just coming out of depot maintenance.

“When these jets return from depot maintenance, they are covered in a ragged pattern as many of the panels are replaced and devoid of paint,” Pontzer said.

To develop the new scheme, those in the 586 FLTS, with help from Capt. Preston Spaulding of the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, rendered and drafted a model based on a scheme adorning an F-104 aircraft on display in the Holloman AFB heritage park. The F-104s were used as chase aircraft in the early years of the AFTC, then known as the Air Force Flight Test Center. The similar scheme on the T-38 is intended to remind current and future members of the 586 FLTS of its pioneering legacy.

Work on the jet’s makeover began around a year ago and was completed around the beginning of June, just in time for its reveal at the ceremony.

“As we are a unit under the command of the Arnold AFB, it just so happens that the paint was finished in time, and this is a great opportunity to share our story and promote the 586th Flight Test Squadron mission and heritage,” Pontzer said.

Pontzer added the new paint scheme will most likely remain on the jet for the duration of its lifespan, to be removed only if mission or regulation dictates.

He also expressed his appreciation to those who helped take the new scheme from proposal to reality, with a special “thank you” to all the paint shop personnel who brought the project to fruition.

“Thank to our maintenance folks and crew chiefs who keep our jets flying,” Pontzer said. “And thanks to the leadership for making this possible and supporting the grassroots efforts of the squadron to honor our heritage, promote the mission and increase morale.”