When Lt Col Adam Bingham took command of the 14th Airlift Squadron in Charleston, SC, the state of the building he inherited did not live up to the historically incredibly high standards of the squadron.
Besides the general maintenance and cleaning that needed to be dealt with, it was missing any representation of Pappy the Pelican, the squadron’s mascot since its activation in 1940.
Bingham had seen a story published in the Pensacola, FL newspaper about a city-wide art project to decorate pelican statues—statues that looked like the perfect representation of Pappy. He’d been trying to get his hands on one for the base for several years before finally deciding to call the city’s chamber of commerce to see if they had any idea where he could get one. Strangely enough, one of the pelicans had popped up on Craigslist just a few days earlier. It was meant to be.
Bingham purchased the sculpture and had it painted with the blue and gold of the 14th and a reference to their motto on the wings. It looked great—too great to live outside in Charleston’s predictably volatile weather.
So Bingham called us. He spoke to Steven Kroll, one of our customer care specialists and pedestal design experts and was straightforward with what he wanted.
“I asked Steven if he liked Apple and he said he did. And then I explained to him that what I like about Apple is that I don’t even know what I need in one of their products until they give it to me. And I said Steven, make it like Apple.”
Bingham provided Steven with a few dimensions, and that was it.
With the help of Brad, our lead design engineer, Kroll put together a custom cylinder pedestal finished in a shimmering black brushed aluminum with a motorized turntable and eight corner lights, giving the pelican an elegant glow visible from 360 degrees. The result was over and above Bingham’s expectations.
“I was instantly impressed,” Bingham said. “I really trusted Steven with it, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.”
The sculpture is now prominently displayed on their main floor, where every Airman, every visitor, every single person that walks through the building, can’t help but see it.
The pelican and inscribed pedestal most certainly elevated the look and ambiance of the building, but they did something else, too. For the squadron, the pelican represents its heritage, history, camaraderie, the brotherhood and sisterhood of people willing to go to war together. For Bingham, the squadron is an extended family, and Pappy the Pelican represents their unity.
This constant reminder of who they are is one of the ways Bingham has helped to build a winning culture.
“The changes we’ve made to the building, they really drive culture, and culture drives our performance,” he said. “Pappy the Pelican is now literally the centerpiece of the squadron, and it sets the tone—that we are the World’s Premier Airlift Squadron.”