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Jet Display Coming to James Clemens HS


Efforts to land a military jet for display at James Clemens High School are on final approach to becoming a reality.

Thanks to a sizable grant from Northrop Grumman and help from other donors, the retired Navy aircraft will soon be on permanent display outside the school. The Madison City Board of Education approved an agreement for the pedestal that will display the aircraft in a flying position off-ground.

"The entire community - students, parents, faculty, boosters - is excited to see this project become a reality," said Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols. "Having a fighter jet displayed as the centerpiece of campus not only speaks to the spirit of the James Clemens Jets but to the rich military and defense history that so permeates this area." 

aerial view rendering of jet in front of James Clemens High School

Aerial rendering of the jet display at James Clemens High School

The Madison City BOE acquired the plane in 2014 for display on the JCHS campus. It is a Northrop Grumman-built Navy TF-9J Cougar fighter jet on permanent loan from the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla. While the jet never saw combat, it was used as an advanced flight trainer in the Vietnam War era and was also flown by the Navy's elite Blue Angels flying team. 

Through the years, JCHS junior ROTC members, shop students and others have been refurbishing the jet - wingtip to wingtip and front-to-back along its fuselage. The restoration must follow strict guidelines for the paint schemes and display requirements atop the pedestal.

“Northrop Grumman is proud to support these students and their efforts,” said Dr. Erica Hopkins, Northrop Grumman K-12 Stem and Workforce Development lead. “Not only in refurbishing the TF-9J Cougar fighter jet, but telling the history behind the aircraft with help from our Northrop Grumman historians, who volunteered their time to educate students and highlight the significance of the jet to our military community.”

rendering of jet atop a pedestal with the school in the background
Ground level rendering of the Jet display in front of James Clemens High School

Navy jet shortly after it arrived atop flatbed truck
Here is the jet shortly after it was delivered to the Veterans Museum in Huntsville

fuselage on a lot

File photo of fueselage while wings are being refurbished. Much of the work was by JC students in shop class/ROTC and volunteers.

student sanding down wing part in shot classStudent sanding a wing for repainting