Throwback paint scheme proves heritage is big in the 435th

Rudy Olivarez, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies paint to the landing gear of a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017.  Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Rudy Olivarez, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies paint to the landing gear of a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017. Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Marion Tarin and Neil Orlowski, both Corrosion Control Specialists in the 12th Maintenance Group, prepare a decal for application paint to a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017. Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Marion Tarin and Neil Orlowski, both Corrosion Control Specialists in the 12th Maintenance Group, prepare a decal for application paint to a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017. Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Rudy Olivarez, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies paint to the landing gear of a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017.  Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Rudy Olivarez, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies paint to the landing gear of a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017. Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Neil Orlowski, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies a decal to a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017.  Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Neil Orlowski, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies a decal to a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017. Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin)

Mario Tarin, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies a decal to a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017.  Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin) 170113-F-ET654-002.JPG

Mario Tarin, a Corrosion Control Specialist in the 12th Maintenance Group, applies a decal to a T-38C Talon at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, Jan. 13, 2017. Members of the corrosion control shop are changing the plane’s color scheme from two-tone gray to heritage blue, a scheme that was used by the 435th Fighter Training Squadron 40 years ago, ahead of a reunion of pilots that trained for fighter fundamentals after Jan. 1, 1977. (U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Martin) 170113-F-ET654-002.JPG

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- The 435th Fighter Training Squadron and the 12th Maintenance Group have blended a throwback paint scheme with a 40th anniversary reunion to celebrate a vital Air Force mission.

When the 435th was reactivated after the Vietnam War on Jan. 1, 1977 at Holloman Air Force Base, its mission was to teach new fighter pilots basic maneuvers in what was called Lead-In-Fighter Training. LIFT evolved into the 435th’s contemporary Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals program in today’s two-toned gray T-38C Talons.

Dozens of LIFT alumni and current squadron members are reuniting this week at JBSA-Randolph for some professional development-themed comradery. “Our heritage is bigger than all of us and it’s the reason people want to be in the Air Force,” said Lt. Col Jason Earley, the 435th Fighter Training Squadron commander.

Thanks to the Corrosion Control Shop, the 435th’s flagship is sporting the throwback blue tricolor of LIFT’s AT-38B Talons before the “Smurf Jet” scheme was phased out in the late 90s.

“The most rewarding part of our job is the challenge of painting a new camouflage paint scheme,” said Daniel Rodriguez, the 12th Maintenance Group’s Corrosion Control Shop supervisor.

According to Rodriguez, the freshly painted or “heritage blue” pattern recalls those early days of LIFT and IFF.

To be on time for the 435th’s anniversary celebration Jan. 20, Rodriguez’s team started working on the plane Dec. 20, 2016. Ten employees spent approximately 300 man-hours on the makeover.
In their shop, at full speed, Rodriguez’s team, with an average of 30 years’ experience, recall artists of yesteryear at work on a sheet metal canvas.

“The team over at Maintenance did a fantastic job,” said Earley.

Earley will be among the dozens of current 435th FTS “Deadly Black Eagles” and LIFT or IFF alumni who will pose with the flagship for a group photo during the reunion.