Bradenton Detailer Leaves His Mark on Air Force One

Todays News

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JUL 12, 2019

In a typical week as owner and lead detailer at Pure Detailers Professional Detailing Service, Bo Mortensen gets his hands on a lot of machines. Cars, vans, trucks, Jeeps—if it’s got four wheels, a motor and a paint-job, Mortensen will make it shine. But this past week has been anything but typical, with Mortensen heading to the Seattle Museum of Flight as one of 55 professional detailers selected from across the country to restore and preserve 18 historic aircraft, including the original Air Force One.

As part of the 2019 Air Force One Detailing Team, Mortensen arrived in Seattle this past Sunday, before being led to the aircraft for the first time on Monday. “When you walk in, it takes your breath away,” he says. “It’s something to see it on paper, but when you physically but your hands on it, it’s just an indescribable feeling. It’s a way to get up close and personal to history.”

And the plane has seen more than its fair share of history. A custom-built Boeing 707-120, the original Air Force One replaced President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Super-Constellation, and counted presidents Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon among its occupants, as well as notable guests such as Nikita Khrushchev and Henry Kissinger. Replaced in 1962 with a newer Boeing model, the aircraft remained in the presidential fleet until 1996.

Having just completed a 15-year restoration, the original Air Force One needed only a shine and polish, says Mortensen, but the job’s not done until all of the aluminum boasts a “mirror finish.”

Other aircraft had not fared so well over the years, such as a World War II B-29 Super Fortress Bomber undergoing extensive restoration, and a recently acquired Vietnam-era B-52G Stratofortress Bomber in particularly rough condition. Such situations call for “aggressive correction” of the aluminum, says Mortensen, but nothing the team cannot handle. Already underway before his arrival, the restorations will likely last years yet. But, for this one week, the 2019 Detailing Team makes as much progress as they can. Other planes that demand their attention include the first ever Boeing “Jumbo Jet” 747 and the first of the 1960s-era Boeing 727-022 commercial airliners.

But for Mortensen, a Danish immigrant who moved to the US 20 years ago and now owns his own business, it’s the chance to lay his hands on Air Force One that stands out the most. “The history that’s involved in this is just indescribable,” he says. “Standing in front of Air Force One, physically working on it, thinking about all of the presidents and all of the world events that happened with this particular aircraft, it’s staggering how much impact it has. I can’t even explain it.”

Mortensen will be back in Bradenton next week, reopening Pure Detailers and getting back into his routine, but for now he has a couple days left to help preserve history and put a little of himself in there at the same time. “I’m working very hard to earn my spot for next year,” he says. “I’m living the American Dream.”

Pictured: Bo Mortensen hard at work on the original Air Force One at the Seattle Museum of Flight.

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