Savannah State University NROTC
Savannah, Georgia


CMDR. Donnie Cochran taken at the dedication on May 10, 1991. Photo from NROTC at Savanna State.

Savannah Morning News Savannah State University's Blue Angels motif A-4 Skyhawk aircraft had lost a bit of its luster since being displayed on campus in 1991. That's when the plane was donated to SSU's Naval ROTC program by the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Fla. It was painted in a Blue Angels motif, mounted across from the ROTC building, and in 1996 it was dedicated to the first African-American flight demonstration team leader and Savannah State University alum, Donnie Cochran. But 10 years of the elements had left the plane looking 'faded and tired," said SSU Naval ROTC Lt. Cmdr. Ernie Lefler. So Lefler contacted several area businesses and asked for their support in refurbishing the plane. Gulfstream, which mounted the plane and applied the original paint, agreed to strip and repaint the aircraft. Savannah Steel Scaffolding donated the scaffolding for the job. Earlier this month, crews stripped the plane and completed the detail work. Although Savannah is more of an Army town with Hunter Army Airfield and nearby Fort Stewart, Lefler said there was an outpouring of community support for the university and the Naval ROTC program to refurbish the campus landmark. "There has been a lot of support from the community to get this done," Lefler said. "We didn't have money budgeted for this and it would have been impossible for us to do this with out community help."

By Jenel Few

Photos taken by Tom Bispo (Blue Angel '64-65)
Note: This aircraft was not a Blue Angel A-4.