It was the opportunity of a lifetime for one Hesperia detailer.
And this project was a bit bigger than his usual clientele.
Tommy Salazar, who owns and operates One Way Mobile Detailing in Hesperia, was one of a dozen hand-picked, high-end Pacific Coast detailers chosen to help in the detailing process of a historical World War II B-24J Bomber on Thursday.
Salazar spent the day at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana as part of a 12-man crew to attempt to restore the bomber.
Salazar said the experience was humbling.
"To work on that piece of machinery, one that was part of history where our liberties were tested and yet our men and women got together and beat tyranny — it was life changing," Salazar said.
Joe Fernandez of Superior Shine in Arcadia, a master detailer and Salazar's mentor, said once he saw the plane and its present condition, he couldn't resist volunteering to lead a dozen master detailers in a pro bono project to wash, wax, detail and polish the historic plane.
"I have spent the past eight years educating myself on how to prep different types of surfaces and perfecting my skills at paint correction and restoration," Salazar says. "I have detailed all types of surfaces from boats and RVs made of fiberglass, to cars where I polished old paint, bare metal and aluminum. The chance to work on a piece of history like this bomber is thrilling for me."
The B-24J Bomber, which is now owned by the Collings Foundation of Stow, Mass. and is part of the "Wings of Freedom Tour," was one of only two World War II B-24s to return from its original squadron of 19 planes.
Today, the B-24J Bomber is the only restored one in the world still flying, according to the foundation's website.
Salazar said during his 15-hour work day at John Wayne Airport on Thursday, a man who was part of the original crew to fly the plane during World War II visited the airport and watched as the detailing crew did their work.
"We who are out here working every day never forget the price being paid in every war and even in peace time," Salazar said. "People who we do not see and recognize every day are literally laying down their lives so we can do what we do on a daily basis. This was a great opportunity to honor our country and the veterans of World War II. It's my way of honoring the men who flew and fought in this plane."
Contact Salazar through Oneway Mobile Detailing at 760-577-9378.