For McKee, it’s all in the detailing
A Burleson woman spent the week following Independence Day on a special detail involving iconic airplanes, one more iconic than the others.
Pamela McKee of Fine Finishes Auto Detailing (www.finefinishesdetailing.com) was hand-picked for the much anticipated 2019 Air Force One Detailing Team at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.
McKee was selected out of hundreds of detailers nationwide by the original “Detailer of Air Force One,” Renny Doyle of Detailing Success in Big Bear, California. Doyle announced this year’s 55-person team prior to the Independence Day holiday and led the July 7-14 project at the museum.
McKee was one of only two females debuting on this year’s highly anticipated team, and one of only three on the overall team, which includes Doyle’s wife and business partner, Diane Doyle.
For 16 years, members who are chosen for the exclusive Air Force One Detailing Team, do so voluntarily as their patriotic duty to restore, maintain and protect the original presidential jet Air Force One and more than a dozen additional historic aircraft currently on exhibit in the museum’s new Airpark Pavilion.
“I certainly never expected to be detailing multi-million-dollar historic airplanes when I got into detailing,” McKee said. “But getting the opportunity to clean and polish and be caretakers for all these iconic aircraft – especially Air Force One – is something I will not forget. I am honored to have been chosen for the team and it made the Fourth of July holiday special this year.”
In addition to Air Force One, which is currently in the preservation stages after 15 years of restoration, the team continued restoring a solid aluminum WWII B-29 Super Fortress Bomber and a recently acquired and badly deteriorating Vietnam-era B-52G Stratofortress Bomber. They will also clean and continue to maintain the first-ever Boeing “Jumbo Jet” 747; the Concorde Alpha Golf; and the first 1960s-70s-era Boeing 727-022 commercial airliner – all three, planes previous teams have begun restoring in the past 5-10 years.
The team worked from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day, leaving no time for sightseeing, McKee said.
“We didn’t have time to see the Space Needle, Pike’s Street Market or any sights,” she said.
McKee received her Detailing Business, Paint Correction, Headlight Repair, and Ceramic Coatings Certification from Doyle last year, as well as dual certifications from the International Detailing Association. She and her two sons operate Fine Finishes Auto Detailing, both of whom have since gone to Doyle for training and certification like their mom and will qualify for the AFO team next spring.
“I trained Pamela as an expert in all types of paint and helped her perfect her skill at cleaning and polishing paint and metal, so I knew when I chose her for the team this year, she is experienced, qualified, and will do a great job,” said Doyle. “She has an eye for detail and an instinct for perfection that is an absolute ‘must’ for this project, and it will give her an experience she won’t get anywhere else.”
Air Force One is the first presidential jet, known as a flying Oval Office for four American presidents including Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. It entertained international dignitaries like Nikita Khrushchev and Henry Kissinger. For more than a decade, it rested on the open tarmac exposed to Seattle’s notorious climate.
In 2003, a Bush-administration executive contacted Doyle about saving the deteriorating paint and brightwork on the iconic plane. Doyle was known for his skill at paint correction and restoring the shine on classic cars, as well as his knowledge in caring for expensive car collections, exotics, and aircraft.
“That beautiful jet was in such a distressed state when I first saw it in 2003, and it was just me, my wife and business partner Diane, and a few staff members who decided anything we did would help and nothing we did could make it worse,” said Doyle. “There was a lot of new technology, new equipment, and innovative products coming onto the market for professional detailers 16 years ago that I had been field testing.
“Since then, those tools and products – some for which we have developed specifically based on the needs of this project, have been instrumental in bringing the plane up to the excellent condition it is in now.”
All supplies were provided by detailing product providers, McKee said.
The plane is in excellent condition now, but still requires an annual cleaning because even though it does not sit exposed on the tarmac, it is inside an open-air pavilion, covered but still subject to the dampness and cold that causes her paint and brightwork to get cloudy.
“It was a wonderful experience,” McKee said. “It was amazing to work with that many people from all over the country, working side-by-side with tremendous chemistry. It was an honor.”
Kimberly Ballard from www.KimberlyWritesCreative.com contributed to this article.