Two U.S. combat jet fighters that served as over-sized toys for children in Fairfax City parks for the past five years soon will be dismantled and sold as scrap metal because of the frequent repairs they have required after they have been vandalized.
"It's really a sad story," said city spokesman Robert A. Becker. "The combat these planes saw in the Korean War is nothing to what they've been through in five years with kids. The vandals have caught up with us."
City works crews have to be sent to repair the two T-33A planes at Van Dyck and Providence parks at least once or twice a month, Becker said. He estimated that "thousands of dollars in man-hours" have been spent to smooth out exposed edges, patch holes or paint over "choice obscenities."
Last September city police found an eunexploded pipe-bomb inside one of the planes. Teenagers also have been caught rummaging for wires inside the planes' fuselages, which they entered through holes that been punctured in them, Becker said.
The silver, painted, worn-out fighter jets, which once would soar up to 45,000 feets, are now scarred with various-sized patches along their fuselages. The canopy over the two-man cockpit of one of the planes "has long since been gone" because of the vandals' abuse, Becker noted.
The fear that children might be injured by some of the exposed edges is the main reason that the planes are being dismantled, Becker said.
The Fairfax City Kiwanis Club acjuired one of the jets for the city from the Air Force and a city resident obtained the other one from the Navy in 1972. They were delivered minus their engines and electronic equipment.
City officials were told they had to get written permission from the Secretary of the Navy before they could transfer or dispose of the Navy plane. They now have requested such permission.
The Air Force is sending Fairfax explicit written instructions on how to cut up its plane "so no one can put it back together again," even though the plane is long outmoded, Becker was told by a spokesman at Davis-Monathan Air Force Base in Arizona.
The T-33A originally was designated the F-80 and during the Korean War it was equipped with two .50-caliber machine guns. It had the distinction of being the first U.S. jet fighter used in combat, the city said.
When ribboned into sheets of scrap metal, the planes are expected to bring the city a total of about $200, Becker said.