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Filipino-Canadian helps to preserve historic American jet

Cris Aquino Air Force One
Crisanto Aquino is the first and only Canadian to work on the preservation of the first jet aircraft
to serve as a flying Oval Office for U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.
Buffing 1 Buffing 1
Aquino, buffing the brightwork of the original Air Force One jet

Crisanto Aquino of Dr. Shine PHD in Winnipeg was one of 35 automotive detailers selected to assist in an annual project to preserve some of the most historically significant aircraft at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, this past July 10 to 15.

This is Aquino’s third year with the Air Force One Detailing Team tasked with the preservation of the first presidential jet that served as a flying Oval Office for U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. He is the first and only Canadian to work on the plane.

“It has been quite an experience, being a part of this team,” Aquino said. “I’m just a small automotive detailer who never dreamed when I got into the business that these kinds of opportunities existed, much less that I would have the opportunity to be a part of them. The technology, the products, the equipment, and the team’s dedication have helped us save this deteriorating plane that many people did not believe could be saved, and I am honoured to be preserving aviation history.”

Aquino and other team members are successful detailing business owners who pay their own way to Seattle and donate their time and skills to the project. And this is not Aquino’s only prestigious detailing project. He also served on the McCall’s Motorworks Revival and The Quail Motorsports Gathering teams at Monterey Car Week.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the prestigious aviation project led by the “Detailer of Air Force One,” Renny Doyle. His team consists of the most experienced and proven members of his elite “Detail Mafia” who have been caretakers of the historic jet, preserving and protecting its exterior since 2003.

“Cris is an amazing and talented professional detailer … [and he] is a fantastic man,” said Doyle. “His spirit and willingness to help fellow team members is a significant draw of why he has been selected for this year’s team.”

Every spring, Doyle chooses his team members carefully from detailers he has trained and certified over the years. Many of them are senior members of the team that go back to the original restoration project in 2003 while he also brings in rookies who show promise in the meticulous art of paint correction and polishing one-stage paint and brightwork.

“Aquino has earned his place as a part of the finishing team this year,” said Doyle.

Air Force One

For more than a decade, the first presidential jet lived on the open tarmac at the Museum of Flight, exposed to Seattle’s notorious climate. Although it is now on display inside the open-air Aviation Pavilion, it is still exposed to the outside environment, and it shows. Every year when the team comes to work on the plane, the paint shows signs of weathering and dulled brightwork that requires a protective coating to hold it over until the next year.

The historic presidential plane is a specially built Boeing VC-137B Special Air Missions (SAM) 970, delivered in 1959 as the first presidential jet. In 1962, it was replaced by a newer Boeing VC-137C, but SAM 970 remained in the presidential fleet, ferrying VIPs such as Nikita Khrushchev, and U.S. vice-presidents until June 1996.

Over the past two decades, the “Detail Mafia” has also been restoring five other historic aircraft including the Concorde G-BOAG “Alpha Golf, the last of the supersonic airliners retired in 2003, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “T-Square 54,” the Boeing 727 “Serial No. 001,” and the propeller-driven Lockheed 1049G Super Constellation “Connie,” predecessor of the first jet-powered Air Force One.