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Charleston Business

Greenville Native Helps Restore Historic Air Force One Model

Jul 19, 2023 01:56PM ● By Eli Kibler

(Photo by Chris Woolman)

Greenville native Rick Kolb recently flew to Seattle to help with the preservation of the first Air Force One model. He is one of 40 master detailers assigned to aid in the upkeep of the historic jet, which carried U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon and housed the first mobile Oval Office in American history.

He was asked to join by lead Air Force One detailer Renny Doyle, who recognized Kolb’s skill through his membership in The Detail Mafia program. Kolb voiced his excitement regarding this task, having already seen Air Force One in Seattle at The Museum of Flight last year. He said, “This project shows the dedication and commitment to our craft and industry. We’re also building team skills as we collaborate as a unit to manage such an enormous job.”

“Rick is a small business owner on a mission. A mission to not simply be a better-detailing technician, but a talented and skillful entrepreneur,” said Doyle. “Rick’s drive and hard work have been witnessed, and I am excited to have him on this year's team.”

In addition to the original Air Force One, the restoration of a WWII B-29 Superfortress Bomber has also been in the books, a vehicle which was pierced by several 50-caliber bullets 80 years ago, and currently in the possession of The Museum of Flight.

When asked further about the experience, Kolb said, “My dad and grandfather were both in the Air Force. My grandfather was a belly gunner on a B-17. They shot him down over Germany, and (he) became a POW before returning to the States.”

Kolb’s work and expertise on Air Force One have also landed him several jobs with local private airplane owners. Aiming to offer high-quality work to each of his customers on a weekly basis, he said, “As a business owner, this experience gives me a step above my competition in the market. Those planes are more than $300 million each. It’s not very often that your local detailers have a chance like this.”

Kolb can be contacted at [email protected]