It’s a good thing he isn’t afraid of heights and ladders or sprawling upside down on a chair looking up at the great aluminum belly of the ﬁrst presidential jet plane, because those are the hazards of being an automotive detailer these days. Of course being one of 40 of the best and most skilled detailers in the world makes it just another day at the office.
Jason Vidivici of Detailing, Inc. in the Hamptons was given the title Brightwork Lieutenant, overseeing the reconditioning of the bare aluminum belly of Air Force One. Armed with a case of Rolite aluminum polish and a 5-pound Flex XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital polisher, Vidivici and his 6-man squad were part of an elite team of high-end detailers, handpicked to travel to Seattle’s Museum of Flight where they were tasked to bring AFO and a rare WWII B29 Bomber back to its original shine and glory.
In spite of AFOs notoriety, it hasn’t been detailed in 3 years and sits out on the tarmac at the Museum of Flight, fully exposed to Seattle’s brutal elements. Seattle’s constant acidic-like rain and contaminants have etched the bare aluminum (brightwork) and paint, giving it a streaked and cloudy appearance.
The Flex 3401 with its orbital rather than circular bu#er was a technique not used on AFO before, yet very popular in car detailing. Renny Doyle, the project coordinator, had a theory that the appliance with its simulation hand movement would be less likely to cause holograms, and with its larger stroke length, would spread the polish over a larger area to produce a more consistent result than 40 individuals would. His theory was correct and proved very effective.
Vidivici also served on the 10-man “AFO Finishing Team”. While the rest of the team broke away after the ﬁrst 4 days to work on the Bomber, Vidivici spent the next 3 days conducting a ﬁnal ﬁnishing inspection of the Special Air Missions (SAM) 970, to make sure there was not a single blemish on the Boeing 707-120 before they left Seattle. “Probably ten percent of the ﬁnished
plane required more work after the initial detail,” Vidivici says. “Due to outgassing, you can walk away with it looking perfect but come back a few hours or a day later and see a smudge that needs bu"ng again.” This meticulousness is a prime example of why this particular team of detailers is primo. “We have a passion for detailing. The best and most skilled detailers will not be satisﬁed with anything short of perfection in their work.”
As a result, Vidivici was only able to spend one day on the brightwork “tube” or fuselage of the B29, located inside a restoration hangar where its wings are currently under repair. Battered and scarred from shrapnel from its 37 bombing missions over the Paciﬁc in the 1940s, the plane hasn’t been cleaned since it was rescued from abandonment on a desert airﬁeld in Arizona.