Extensive fabrication and component assembly
work had taken place at the Texas Airplane Factory between 1994 and
1996; however, contract difficulties emerged between CFII (the project's
owner) and TAF (the chief subcontractor) just as the most difficult
and demanding phase of the project was about to begin. The project
sat dormant for an extended period in 1997 while the two parties sought
to reconcile their differences, and in the end, it was decided that
CFII should "peacefully recover" all program assets, tooling
and airframes from Fort Worth and assign another team to complete the
CFII's President, Steve
Snyder, approached Bob Hammer -- then the Vice President of DCAC/MRN
at Boeing's Commercial Airplane Group -- about completing the aircraft
and supervising the flight test program. Hammer ultimately accepted,
and retired from Boeing shortly thereafter, enabling him to devote his
full attention to the Me 262 Project.
If anything, Hammer was clearly overqualified
for the task. His career with the Boeing had been marked by countless
milestones, including service as Chief Engineer, Director of Quality
Control and Director of Engineering for the B 757. Hammer had
designed the composite tail sections of the B 757 and B 767, and was
also the Chief Engineer of Structures in the B-2 bomber program.
He holds the current U.S. Patent for the B-2 bomber's wing.
Of equal importance in this project is
the fact that Hammer is an experienced builder of numerous experimental
aircraft of his own design. Hammer's HH-1 Zipper (completed
in 1980) proved itself a world-record breaking milestone as the first
homebuilt jet aircraft. He has continued to develop
innovative new machines, with the latest being the amphibious Sea
Fire, recognized as the Oshkosh '98 Grand Champion. His
expertise is unparalleled, and the project could not be in better hands.
In early 1999, the five production Me 262s
were transferred to the Seattle area for the final phase of the project.
Even before these assets were on hand, a team of some 20+ hand-picked
paid and volunteer staff made ready.