Aircraft Restoration

The many volunteers of the Illinois Aviation Museum have put hundreds, if not thousands, of hours into five major restoration projects over the past years.


The first project was a T-2 Naval training jet loaned to our museum from the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, FL for restoration and static display. It was picked up in Pensacola in 2003 and rolled out after repainting and reassembly on October 2, 2004. A video from the first day at Pensacola thru the end of the rollout ceremony can be found here.

  • North American T-2 Buckeye
  • T2 undergoing restoration


The museum’s second restoration project was an Air Force T-33 trainer jet loaned to our museum from the National Museum of Naval Aviation for restoration and static display. It was brought to Bolingbrook from Sugar Grove, IL for a much larger restoration project on Dec. 4, 2004. The T-33 was completed and rolled out in 2007. A video of the rollout ceremony can be found here.

  • Illinois Aviation Museum military jets on display free admission
  • T33 ready for restoration to begin

T33 – “Stubby”

“Stubby” started life as a T33 which served in the US Air Force, went to Rantoul Air Force Base where it had the wings and tail removed, and was used as a training platform for ejection seat mechanics. Along the way, it went to an Army/Navy store and eventually wound up on a farm in East Peoria, IL, where it sat in mud for years. Finally, it was donated to the museum in April of 2009. Restored and painted in Thunderbird colors, this aircraft is a crowd favorite as it represents the museum at parades and other events.

  • IAM Parade
  • Towing an aircraft is easier than youd think


Our next major restoration project was a US Navy A4 attack jet. In 2011, it was donated to our museum by the Warbird Heritage Foundation in Waukegan, IL, in poor condition. Over the next four years, it was heavily restored and rolled out on October 17, 2015, during Bolingbrook’s 50th anniversary. A video of the rollout ceremony can be found here.

  • A4 Skyhawk Illinois Aviation Museum
  • A4 Skyhawk reunited with its wings
  • Douglas A-4 Skyhawk ready for restoration

Fokker DR 1

Illinois Aviation Museum obtained our latest artifact from the Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville, Tennessee. The construction of the Fokker DR1 began as a static-display aircraft but could not be finished by the first builder. Reconstruction work commenced on the DR1 during the fall of 2021. The restoration included a complete cockpit make-over with replica instruments, belts, and harnesses. The originally constructed wings could not be used, so new wings were built, including new lightweight aluminum ailerons. Our volunteer restoration team completed this replica in July 2022. The Fokker DR-1 will provide a step back in time when the skies turned deadly during World War I.

  • Fokker fun
  • Our new Fokker ready to transport to the museum