I got to take a look at N813ME when she was still in the hangar a couple of months or so ago. For the longest time, the plane was sitting in a parking area by the general aviation terminal on Layton Avenue, engineless. This was after she flew into Milwaukee after being purchased from SAS. YX
didn't need the plane at the time, but after several months sitting, she was towed to the hangar, and work began on a C-check.
When I went to the hangar, N813ME was getting the new Midwest interior; the carpets were being installed, and the new airline name was already on the forward cabin bulkhead. The cockpit was nearly complete, and I got to sit in the pilot's and copilot's seats. She had one engine on, one engine off, and already had the blue-painted rudder on, balanced. The new seats, still covered in plastic, were sitting on the hangar floor, waiting to be installed. The old SAS seats were stacked toward the front of the hangar, with a sign saying, "DO
NOT TOUCH" prominently displayed.
My friend Dominic told me that the plane would fly to San Antonio for paint as soon as the C-check was complete, and she'd been ground-tested. The night the new 717 flew in, N813ME was doing taxy tests, and had been painted with all sorts of funny symbols, including the lettes F R Y on the tail. Dominic said he got to sign his name on her fuselage, along with many of his co-workers.
I have a special relationship to this aircraft now, and hope to fly on her one day. My one regret is not having gotten pictures of her in various stages of metamorphosis!