‘OCD’ pro detailer restores glory to a weathered Air Force One
Written by Dina Shorn
Automobile detailer Chris Lee, originally from Trout Lake, Washington, got the gig of a lifetime when he learned he had been selected to ply his skills on the first presidential jet, Air Force One, this summer at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. “In my industry, it’s a game changer,” Lee said. “It’s a way to give back. It’s very humbling.”
Lee started his fledgling detailing business in his garage in 1998 and learned pretty quickly that he was “a clean freak and OCD person and wanted to be my own boss.” He soon launched McMinnville Auto Detail in McMinnville, Oregon.
“One time I was power washing the paint on a door and I blew a dinner-plate-size piece of paint off the door” he recalled. “I had to tell the customer and put them in a rental car. Sometimes when you’re OCD, you have to know when you’ve gone too far.”
What is the difference between detailing a car and Air Force One? “You can damage a plane just as easily as you can a car, probably even easier— one is $660 million and the other is $34,000,” he said.
A group of twenty select detailers will work twelve-hour shifts over six consecutive days on Air Force One at the museum, where it’s on display. They pay their own way to Seattle and donate their time and skills to the project. The 1959 jet, known as SAM (Special Air Missions) 970 was a flying Oval Office for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.