The 195th and final Raptor (with tail number 4195) rolled out of the plant last December to great fanfare. But those ceremonies are sure to be outdone by those next week as the final plane officially flies away from the plant for the last time en route to its deployment to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska. It’s a sure bet that next week’s hoopla will include top brass from both Lockheed Martin and the Air Force, along with a slew of national, state and local officials and lots of TV cameras in tow.
Elmendorf is one of four bases at which operational Raptors are stationed (the others being Langley-Eustis, Va., Holloman in New Mexico and Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. Flight testing is done at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and operational tactics development goes on at Nellis AFB in Nevada.
TIMES-JOURNAL INC., publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal and Cobb Life Magazine, will mark the completion of the F-22 program with a special edition about the F-22 that will be included in Sunday’s newspaper. It will include an overview of the program’s history, plenty of facts and figures about the Raptor, and a lengthy column by the MDJ’s Joe Kirby based on a recent interview about the Raptor with retired Lockheed Martin President Micky Blackwell, who many consider to have been the key figure in the plane’s development.
Kirby, in addition to being Editorial Page editor, is author of two books on the aviation plant in Marietta, “The Lockheed Plant” and “The Bell Bomber Plant.”
NEXT WEEK’S delivery ceremony should make for an exciting day — but not nearly as exciting, or as happy, as April 23, 1991, the day that the Air Force announced that Lockheed had won the years-long competition to build the Raptor, or as it was then known, the Advanced Tactical Fighter.
“That day was as exciting as having a baby,” Blackwell recalled for Kirby.
And unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that next week’s ceremony will have bittersweet overtones. Not only does the White House decision to kill the program mean the loss of thousands of local jobs, it also has the potential to leave our Air Force hamstrung at a time when the Chinese and Russians have finally built fighter jets believed to be nearly as capable as the Raptor, Blackwell warns.
For more, see Kirby’s column and the special F-22 section on Sunday.
A DOZEN OR SO people with close Cobb ties are among those named as Georgia’s “2012 Most Influential” by James Magazine, published by Matt Towery of Insider Advantage.
Its list includes Frank Blake, chairman/CEO of Home Depot, which is headquartered in Vinings; Otis A. Brumby Jr., publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal; David Connell, president/CEO of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce; Shan Cooper, VP and site GM of the Lockheed Martin Plant in Marietta; retired UGA head football coach and Athletic Director Vince Dooley, who has been working to start a football program for Kennesaw State University; east Cobb’s Sue Everhart, chairwoman of the Georgia Republican Party; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented east Cobb in Congress in the 1990s; Dr. Dan Papp, president of KSU; Dr. Lisa Rossbacher, president of Southern Polytechnic State University; Post Properties founder John Williams; and syndicated MDJ columnist Dick Yarbrough.
The magazine also named 10 “Young Guns,” whom have strong ties to Cobb. Patrick Millsaps, now chief of staff for Gingrich, began his law career in Marietta. And Ashlie Wilson, senior producer for Georgia Public Broadcasting and producer of “The Lawmakers,” is a Marietta native and granddaughter of late Marietta Mayor Joe Mack Wilson.
CLARIFICATION: Dr. Bill Hudson, the dentist who was ousted from the board of the Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party last week, is not to be confused with retired Cobb Sheriff Bill Hutson. The latter Hutson tells Around Town he hasn’t been active in the Tea Party movement and was on his farm in the North Georgia Mountains last week when the party’s purge took place.
Meanwhile, Dr. Hudson told Around Town why the tea party board had divided the way it had: “We wanted to do advocacy along with education, and they don’t want to do advocacy any more. It was like everybody needed to think the same, and I’m telling you if everybody is thinking the same somebody’s not thinking’ The tea party was supposed to co-opt the Republican Party but the Republican Party has co-opted the tea party.” ...
Michael Opitz, who’s running against U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) for the 11th District Congressional Seat in the July 31 GOP Primary, will be the guest speaker at Saturday’s Madison Forum Breakfast. The event takes place at 8 a.m. at The Rib Ranch on Canton Road. … A fundraiser for Cobb Tax Commissioner Gail Downing will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 8 at InfoMart on Terrell Mill Road.
COBB SCHOOL DISTRICT SPLOST administrator Doug Shepard, who bolted March 2, is apparently the new director of real estate and development at MedQuest in the greater Atlanta area, according to his LinkedIn profile. Shepard wouldn’t say where he was going after putting in his resignation in mid-February and even after he left no one from the district would say where he went, saying they hadn’t been told. Additionally, Shepard’s reason for leaving was that he’d be getting paid more at his new job — he was making around $115,000 before accounting for furlough days with the district.
Shepard, who lives in Roswell,joined the Cobb district staff in September 2009 shortly before the board of education approved moving the management of the SPLOST III initiative in-house for about $7.7 million. It was initially prepared and managed by The Facility Group, a company believed to now be defunct.
Cobb Super Dr. Michael Hinojosa says Shepard will not be replaced.
THE MARIETTA TROLLEY will keep rolling, at least for now, under its own name. Owners Brian and Cassandra Buckalew had been in discussions with Gray Line Tours about it becoming “Gray Line Atlanta/Marietta.”
“It was a very attractive offer, but I think I’d like to see how far we can take this thing on our own,” she reports. “So for now, happily, I’m headed back to the Square to sit in my old gas station on Church Street and be grateful for the opportunity and experience to chat with the big boys in this industry.” ...
Patti Pearlberg and husband Van will host a “BℓℓB-E-Que” (pronounced ‘boob-bi-kyoo) at noon Saturday at their 383 Church St., home to raise funds for breast cancer in connection with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The Pearlbergs will be roasting a pig, and there’ll be a live DJ and a variety of art glass, jewelry and other elegant pieces from The Multitudes Gallery. To donate online go to www.the3day.org and search for “Patricia Pearlberg.” ... This month’s Film Discussion Series on the Civil War winds up this evening at the Cobb Marietta Library on Roswell Street with KSU Civil War History professor Dr. Brian Wills screening and discussing the 1964 movie “Shenandoah,” starring Jimmy Stewart. The event starts at 6:30 p.m., reports Central Library manager Alexandra Beswick. …
Aviation historian Narayan Sengupta of Smyrna, author of “American Eagles — U.S. Military Aviation in World War I,” will be guest speaker at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Marietta Museum of History’s Aviation Wing. The event will take place inside the restored C-141 StarLifter at the Aviation Wing location off South Cobb Drive. Cost is $7 per person and free for Museum members. Reservations are required. Go to www.MariettaHistory.org.