Two historic Air Force combat jets on display at the Brownwood airport will receive fresh coats of paint, thanks to volunteer labor from Abilene’s 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum and Dyess Air Force Base.
    The volunteer labor will save the City of Brownwood about $42,000, Brownwood City Council members learned Tuesday.
    Council members quickly approved accepting the volunteer labor and paying $2,800 for the cost of material, expenses and travel. The F-4 and F-111 Vietnam-era fighter-bombers are on loan from the Air Force, and the Air Force  notified the city in 2015 that the jets must be repainted to stay in compliance with the loan agreement, council members were told in May.
    The volunteers will repaint the jets over the first two weekends in September.
    Council members declined in May to award a $45,000 bid to Day Aircraft Refinishing in Brady. Two local businesses had indicated they weren’t interested. Airport officials had contacted aircraft museum or entities to try to find painting vendors or in-kind services to assist, but none of those efforts were successful, council members were told then.
    The Air Force had sent the city a list of aircraft restoration companies, which resulted in just two bids including the one from Day Aircraft.
    At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Manager Emily Crawford told council members about the offer of volunteer labor and the expenditure of $2,800.
    “As you recall, we had presented this to you before, and it was a much larger dollar figure at the time,” Crawford told council members. “Based off the publicity that that particular story got us, we actually were able to get more interest in painting these historic aircraft.”
    Two representatives of the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum traveled to the Brownwood airport to look at the jets, and airport manager Bobby Burks traveled to Abilene to see aircraft the volunteers have pained, Crawford told council members.
    Volunteers will scruff-sand and paint the jets and make repairs to the fiberglass radomes, council members were told. Original squadron markings will be masked off during painting. Tail numbers will be painted on and vinyl national insignia will be added.
    Mayor Stephen Haynes said the city should find a way to show its appreciation to the volunteers.
    “We will absolutely do that,” Crawford said. “We are going to be providing them with food and refreshments, those kinds of things, while they are here. I think we can perhaps make a trip to Abilene to thank them in person.”