by Staff Sgt. Hillary Stonemetz
Air Force Recruiting Service
5/30/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- After more than five years of service, one of the Air Force's mobile marketing assets, the F-22 Raptor-themed chopper, retired and moved to its new home in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Designed by the Orange County Choppers, the chopper is now on display in the museum's gift shop.
"It is one of the first artifacts seen by the 1.2 million visitors who visit the museum annually," said Jeffery Underwood, NMUSAF historian. "Future plans call for its display on a raised platform that will allow visitors to view its unique features more easily."
During its service, the chopper reached millions of people through appearances on the reality television show American Chopper and the Military Channel, and by being displayed over 1,000 Air Force recruiting events nationwide, according to Master Sgt. Lance Griffin, Air Force Recruiting Service Strategic Marketing Division advertising superintendent.
Griffin has been involved with the chopper project from the very beginning.
"With the popularity of the show American Chopper, we partnered with OCC back in 2005 to build this chopper," he said. "The chopper demonstrated how a passion for mechanics can translate into a career in the Air Force."
The chopper toured the nation in a trailer that featured a video documenting the chopper being built. The 150-horse power chopper sports an F-22 Raptor custom theme complete with F-22 shaped mirrors, rims, seat, exhaust and an aircraft themed paint scheme.
It was officially retired in 2010, and has been on display in the AFRS Headquarters' lobby until being donated to the Air Force museum this month.
"The National Museum of the United States Air Force maintains a close relationship with the Air Force Recruiting Service, and obtaining the OCC Chopper will help us to tell the public the Air Force's story and to educate our youth," Underwood said. "Its F-22 Raptor theme will convey the importance of air power while assisting in teaching the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)."