The second of five preservation awards given by the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society at its 16th-annual Preservation Awards event, held May 23 at Auctions by the Bay Theater, went to the A-7B Corsair II at the East Gate of the Alameda Naval Air Station.
“The East Gate was the official secondary access to NAS Alameda, during its 57-years of operation. However, those who knew the Air Station’s features went in and out of the East Gate,” explained architect Dick Rutter.
“It provided a short cut through an industrial area which included the diversion around a group of five very large above-ground aviation fuel storage tanks. In the early 1980s, these tanks were taken out of service and removed.”
The aircraft that became part of the area’s landscaping had a structural failure in its fuselage after “a hard landing,” Rutter shared. “The aircraft display, completed in 1987, was unique in that the A-7 was fitted with (inert) ordnance, giving it the typical appearance of a Navy attack jet fully loaded for combat. It was an impressive sight!”
Volunteer began working on its deterioration in 2010, with the City agreeing to pay for parts and paint. Thanks to bird nests and massive amounts of corrosion, among other issues, it took the team two and a-half years to renovate and remount the jet.
“With the motto ‘Fly Navy’ in bright yellow on the leading edge of its dark blue pylon, the A-7, fresh in the colors it originally wore when flying in 1979, again welcomes one and all to Alameda Point,” Rutter concluded.