Local auto detailer volunteers his time to maintain historic aircraft
Fulfilling patriotic duty takes different forms for each American. For Melbourne automotive detailer Justin Labato, that duty calls him to Seattle’s Museum of Flight over the Fourth of July holiday to donate his talent to his country.
Labato, owner of JL’s Showroom Detailing Inc., recently completed his fifth year as a member of a 50-person volunteer detailing team assigned to restore and preserve historic aircraft, including a specially built Boeing 707-120 — the original Air Force One that flew Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, as well as other dignitaries like Nikita Khrushchev and Henry Kissinger.
Labato is a senior member of the Air Force One Detailing Team, and this July marked his third year as a Team Leader.
“I am always so honored to be chosen for this team, and each year I bring even more knowledge and experience to the job,” Labato said. “I consider myself a steward of these historic aircraft and doing the work near the Fourth of July makes it even more special.”
The original Air Force One Boeing 707-120 aircraft remained in the presidential fleet until 1992 and then after being retired, sat for many years in the open-air Seattle climate on a tarmac. In 2003, members of President Bush’s administration called for the historic jet to be restored and then preserved.
Air Force One requires an annual cleaning because even indoors, it is still subject to the dampness and cold that causes paint and brightwork to get cloudy.
In addition to Air Force One, the team Labato supervised a team that restored a solid aluminum WWII B-29 Super Fortress Bomber and a Vietnam War-era B-52G Stratofortress Bomber, among other historic aircraft at the Seattle museum.
Detailing is a second career for Labato, who has been in the business since 2008. After being laid off from a job at a wood mill during the recession, Labato took a position at an auto audio shop and began to learn about vehicle detailing. He quickly found a love for the trade and started seeking out ways to improve his services, sometimes traveling to other states to hear the “best in the business” gives tips and advice.
Labato was the 2018 president of the International Detailing Association (IDA) and is a spokesperson for Buff and Shine Manufacturing, one of the major sponsors of the annual volunteer detailing event.
“It really is an honor to help preserve these parts of our American history,” Labato said. “I get to see what most Americans don’t and it is humbling.”
JL’s Showroom Detailing Inc.
515 South Wickham Road, Melbourne
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