At Last, a Fighter Jet is Touching Down on the James Clemens High School Campus!

At Last, a Fighter Jet is Touching Down on the James Clemens High School Campus!


MADISON, AL – The Highland Group, a leading general contractor, is thrilled to announce their partnership with NOLA VanPeursem Architects and the Madison City Board of Education in an exciting project to finally place a refurbished TF-9J fighter jet on the campus of James Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama.

Acquired by the Madison City Board of Education in 2014, the Northrop Grumman-built Navy TF-9J Cougar fighter jet is on permanent loan from the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. Although never seeing combat, the jet was used as an advanced flight trainer during the Vietnam War era and flown by the Navy’s elite Blue Angels flying team. The TF-9J, initially designated as the F9F-8T, is a two-seat trainer variant of the basic F9F-8 Cougar carrier-borne fighter.

Recently, skilled craftsman Randy Beavers completed the refurbishment of the aircraft.  Throughout the years, junior ROTC members from James Clemens High School, shop students, and other individuals have contributed to the restoration process. All restoration efforts adhered to strict guidelines regarding paint schemes and display requirements for the pedestal-mounted aircraft. This initiative was made possible thanks to support from Northrop Grumman and community donations.

The authentic retired Navy aircraft will soon be on permanent display outside the school. On Wednesday, June 14th, at around 9:00 a.m., the fighter jet will be transported to the back parking lot of James Clemens High School, escorted by the Madison Police Department. The public is invited to witness this unique event and experience a piece of history as the jet finds its new home at the high school.

The Highland Group is honored to be part of this endeavor and looks forward to collaborating with NOLA VanPeursem Architects and the Madison City Board of Education to bring this historic aircraft to the James Clemens High School campus.

Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols added, “The entire community – students, parents, faculty, boosters – is excited to see this project become a reality. Having a fighter jet displayed as the centerpiece of the campus not only speaks to the spirit of the James Clemens Jets but to the heritage of the rich military and defense history that so permeates this area.”

Michael Barnes, Vice President of North Alabama for The Highland Group, also commented,  “We are thrilled and honored to be the chosen general contractor for this monumental project at James Clemens. As a proud North Alabama native, I am beyond excited to see our team at The Highland Group play a part in creating a lasting symbol of our community’s dedication to innovation and progress. This fighter jet will inspire generations to come, and we can’t wait to help make this dream a reality.”

James Clemens High School is located at 11306 County Line Rd, Madison, Alabama 35756. For more information about The Highland Group and this project, please visit  



About The Highland Group

The Highland Group is a real estate development and commercial construction firm that specializes in real estate development, preconstruction services, general contracting, construction management, and design-build delivery. Their mission is to develop leaders committed to higher standards who have an impact on their firm and the communities in which they work and live by developing trusting relationships and building quality projects. The Highland Group has offices located in the Gulf Coast Region (501 South McKenzie Street, Suite 2, Foley, Alabama, 36535), the Tennessee Valley Region (415-H Church Street NW, Suite 201, Huntsville, Alabama, 35801), and the Florida Panhandle Region (130 Richard Jackson Blvd., Suite 104A, Panama City Beach, Florida, 32407). They have been proudly serving clients throughout the Southeastern United States since 2005. Learn more at

James Clemens High School

James Clemens High school is a public high school in Madison, Alabama and is the second high school to be built as part of Madison City Schools. The school is named after the founder of Madison County, James Clemens. Established in 2012, the school offers access to over 70 organizations to its student body including their extensive music and athletic programs. Clemens’ has over 2,100 students in attendance including their marching band consisting of over 150 students, the schools’ JROTC Jet Battalion has over 100 cadets enrolled, and its various athletic programs are filled with award winning student athletes as well as coaches. For more general information on the school, visit here.

About Madison City Schools

Madison City Schools is in the thriving suburb of Madison just west of Huntsville, AL, serving students from both Madison and Triana. The 2022 State Department of Education report cards gave the District and all schools an A. Madison City Schools was one of only five districts out of 137 school systems statewide to receive all A’s.

MCS is the 12th largest school district in Alabama with 2022 enrollment exceeding 12,400 students spread across two 9-12 high schools, two 6-8 middle schools, seven K-5 elementary schools, RISE Academy alternative school on the campus of James Clemens High School, and a Pre-K program on the campus of Rainbow Elementary. A third middle school is scheduled to open in 2023, a PreK Center is in the works, and the Board of Education recently purchased the land to build an eighth elementary school within the next several years. Enrollment has been steadily growing 300-400 students per year. To learn more visit here.

About NOLA VanPeursem

Nola | VanPeursem Architects, a talented team dedicated to top-notch design and customer service, offers a diverse range of practice areas including education, healthcare, retail, aviation, residential, and historic preservation. Based in North Alabama, they focus on creating community-centered environments, fostering long-term relationships with public and private sector clients. To learn more visit their website here.

About Northrop Grumman

 Northrop Grumman is a leading global aerospace and defense technology company. Their pioneering solutions equip our customers with the capabilities they need to connect and protect the world, and push the boundaries of human exploration across the universe. Driven by a shared purpose to solve their customers’ toughest problems,their 95,000 employees define possible every day. To learn more about Northrop Grumman visit their website here. 


Media Contacts

Press Release: 

Lindsay Schumacher (The Highland Group)

[email protected]

General Project Information:

Lee Shaw (Madison City Schools)

[email protected]

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