Metallurgy Expertise & Superior Finish for USAF Memorial


  • One of the newest memorials in Washington, D.C. is the United States Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA. The design of the memorial features three soaring spires of stainless to mimic the exhaust contrails made famous by the US Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcons.
  • Each spire is essentially a free-standing curve, the largest reaching a height of 270 feet. The stainless plates specified required strength, flexibility, and exceptional flatness and surface quality.
  • Because of the memorial's close proximity to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, surface reflectivity of the stainless was a safety and an aesthetic concern. The specified stainless and its finish would have to satisfy both.


  • New Castle Stainless Plate consulted with the memorial's design firm to determine the ideal surface that would capture the sunlight while minimizing glare for pilots on approach to the nearby airport. The plates were roller leveled and then polished, pickled, and blasted with fine glass beads to achieve a unique metal finish, reminiscent of the skin of an airplane.
  • The structural design for the spires took more than a year and involved New Castle Plate experts who met with the design engineers regarding plate flatness, width and surface finish.


  • New Castle Stainless Plate expertise and deep understanding of the characteristics of stainless steels aided in the structural design of the memorial which resulted in a unique and successful solution. Stacked inside each spire is a series of small boxes, each containing a 2,000 lb. metal ball encased in a stainless shell. The balls roll within synthetic damper pads, helping to dissipate wind energy and constrain each spire's structural movement. The effect is a structurally sound memorial that oscillates high above the nation's capital.
  • New Castle Stainless Plate's attention to exceptional quality allowed the stainless plate to meet the project's extremely tight flatness tolerances and demanding finish requirements.