The Fantastic Story of the Rescue and Restoration of F9F-8P 144388
On Static Display: Estrella Aviation Museum of Paso Robles, California
Updated November 27, 2016
Update: (11/19/16) Ken - The F9F-8P, BuNo 144388 formerly of VFP-62 and now at the Estrella Warbird Museum in Paso Robles California has been refurbished to a static display. The 'Cougar' looks beautiful in its new appearance - and happy to say - resplendent in VFP-62 markings. The Estrella group did a fine job in bringing her back to life...Leon Cleaver (non VFP-62 person)..
[Webmaster: Part of what follows was posted to our "Bulletin Board" several years ago. I first received photos of several photo-Cougars deteriorating in a field and the owner, Leon Cleaver, was trying to find a home (and hopefully restoration) for them]
The right picture shows BuNo 144388
For more pictures and chain of custody CLICK (USE BROWSER RETURN KEY TO RETURN TO THIS PAGE)
photos and dates of the 'Cougars' history up to its trip to California--courtesy Leon Cleaver
I recently saw the photos of my F9F-8P Cougar on your website. I just bought the plane in Ohio and transported it to Santa Rosa, CA. My intentions are to either restore the plane myself or provide it to someone who will restore it. The bu. no. is 144388 and it was in VFP-62 in 1959. I would love to hear from anyone that flew it of worked on it.
[Webmaster's note: It is good to see Steve Penning take the interest in salvaging these relics of the early years of VFP-62.]
My interest in the plane is that I love F9F's. I had a -4 and -5 Panther several years ago, pretty complete, but in many pieces. I was starting to restore the -4 when a guy came along and wanted them worse than I did !! I actually have 2 Cougars, the 8P and a 6P. The 6P is still in Ohio waiting to be trucked home. I had an aircraft restoration company (Aerocrafters, Inc.) for 15 years with a partner. We restored HU-16's, B-25, P-51, MiG-15, MiG-17, L-39, Sea Fury, PBY-5A, L-5, Yak-52, T-28, and a few others. I fly the warbirds still and just love the history about them.
I saw this going down I-80 in Iowa . I am a field service tech for a company that makes medical dispensing equipment for hospitals. I cover the state of Iowa. I have not run across too many jets strapped to the back of a tractor-trailer.
When I got home and viewed the picture full-sized I noticed the unit designator on the fuselage and did an internet search. Your site popped up and thought it might interest your members.
And pass on a heartfelt thanks to your members for their service.
VFP 62 clearly on fuselage
Here is an update in regards to the 2 VFP-62 F9F-8P Cougars previously mentioned on the "Bulletin Board Archives:" F9F-8P Bu No. 144388 which was purchased by Steve Penning of Windsor, California, and subsequently shipped to Santa Rosa, California, has now been transferred to the Estrella Aviation Museum of Paso Robles, California. It is in the process of a restoration for static display.
F9F-6P Bu. No. 128298, also purchased by Steve, was restored in northern Ohio until sold to Bob Wynn of Foley, Alabama during mid-2011. Bob is working on a cosmetic restoration for an at-home display. Both aircraft had VFP-62 markings when sold.
It is nice to see these historic aircraft being brought back to a respectable representation.
Leon Cleaver, Vermilion, Ohio.
Created on ... November 28, 2016