Friday, November 14, 2008

Final Flight: C-119 Flying Boxcar



















C-119 Flying Boxcar En Route Home on Final Flight, Hagerstown Aviation Museum Pilots Making Historic Flight of Antique Fairchild Cargo Plane
(Hagerstown, MD and Greybull, Wy) -- After exhausting weeks of repairs and inspections, the Hagerstown Aviation Museum’s Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar" took off from the South Big Horn County Airport in Greybull, Wyoming at approximately 10:20am Mountain Time Wednesday, November 12th. The C-119 crew made several passes over the airport, and then piloted the 56-year old rare aircraft south to fly around the 13,000-foot Big Horn Mountains.

The first leg of the historic journey is scheduled to include a stop at Grand Isle, Nebraska. The crew plans to fly to Ottumwa, Iowa on Thursday, and then they hope to continue onward to Warrenton, Virginia. According to Hagerstown Aviation Museum President Kurtis Meyers, "With a small window of favorable weather, we hope to have the aircraft's arrival in Hagerstown on Sunday the 16th between 12:00 noon and 2:00pm." Everyone is invited to this free event to witness the last flight of a C-119 over Hagerstown.

Interested aviation enthusiasts should call the museum hotline at 301-733-8717 or go to www.HagerstownAviationMuseum.org for updates, photos and videos of the C-119 in Greybull, WY. The C-119 Homecoming event will held be at Hagerstown Aircraft Services.

The C-119 is one of the last remaining Flying Boxcars in the world in flyable condition. "After being moth-balled for a very long time, this aircraft has undergone more than two months of preparations for its ferry flight back to Hagerstown," said Meyers. "We know that when it arrives home safely that someday it will become one of the main attractions of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum." Brought back to life after six years of sitting dormant, the Boxcar ’s awakening occurred only through the efforts of many museum volunteers, and the contributions to date of over $70,000. More than 450 generous donors throughout the Hagerstown community and beyond stepped forward to save this important piece of aviation history."

According to the museum organizers, Pilot Frank Lamm, Co-Pilot T.R. Proven and Flight Engineer Galen Seal are all museum volunteers who are making the rare aircraft's flight home possible. Both Pilot Lamm and Co-Pilot Proven are veterans of the last flying Fairchild C-82's return flight in 2006. Brig. General Galen Seal is a welcome addition to the museum’s flight crew. Frank Lamm and Galen Seal both flew C-119s in the 817th Troop Carrier Squadron during the 1950s and are old friends. T.R. Proven is currently an accident investigator for the Federal Aviation Administration, and a great friend of the museum. The crew has combined flight time of more than 40,000 hours.

Manufactured by Fairchild Aircraft in Hagerstown, the museum's 1953 C-119 was originally built for the Royal Canadian Air Force. In the 1980s it was sold to Hawkins & Powers, an aerial fire fighting company in Greybull, Wyoming. The aircraft was used by Hawkins & Powers to carry fire retardant that would be dropped on forest fires. This particular C-119 was made famous in the 1989 Spielberg movie, "Always" with Richard Dreyfuss and John Goodman.
Built in Hagerstown, over 1000 C-119's were produced, by the more than 10,000 Fairchild workers. The aircraft served as the primary cargo hauler for the United States military throughout the 1950's and early 1960's. The first C-119 was delivered in 1949, and was the main cargo and troop aircraft for the US Military. The most numerous of the models built by Fairchild was the C-119G. This type saw lengthy and important service principally with the United States Air Force Troop Carrier Command wings, Military Air Transport Service, and the Air Force Reserve. It participated extensively in the Korean War, flying from Japan, and gave sterling service for many years thereafter.

In August of 2006, Robert Stanford of Zenith Aviation purchased the retired aircraft, and decided to donate it to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum. In slightly less then two years, the museum raised the necessary funding to begin inspection, repair and maintenance of the aircraft. Fundraising efforts will continue since the entire repair project has cost in excess of $100,000 including approximately $12,000 in fuel for the return trip. Donations can be mailed to Hagerstown Aviation Museum, 14235 Oak Springs Rd, Hagerstown, MD 21742 or made online at www.HagerstownAviationMuseum.org.
Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that the donation of the C-119, and other recent museum acquisitions, gives the Hagerstown Aviation Museum the largest collection of museum-owned aircraft of any Maryland aviation museum. The museum has aircraft in storage in private hangars throughout the Hagerstown Regional Airport and at Hagerstown Aircraft Services, until the organization can build a permanent home. "Half of Washington County will turn out to see this plane come home," said Riford. "When the last flying C-82 came home in 2006, the airport was mobbed. This is an exciting thing for Hagerstown and Washington County."

Bringing the C-119 home to Hagerstown, for permanent display has been a huge undertaking for a handful of volunteers. "The story of Hagerstown's aviation heritage is not complete without this aircraft. The Flying Boxcar made Hagerstown famous around the world. The C-119 will be a permanent monument to the thousands of men and women who designed, built, flew and maintained it throughout its life," said Meyers.

CVB President Tom Riford said that when a permanent home for the aircraft is completed, that visitors would flock to Hagerstown. "This town made the best airplanes in the world. We have an aviation history of over 75 years. To have this many aircraft, most of which were made right here in Hagerstown, makes the Hagerstown Aviation Museum a singularly extraordinary collection." Thousands of former Fairchild employees are located in the area around Hagerstown, where the aircraft company operated for decades. The first airplane manufactured in Maryland was made in Hagerstown.

The Hagerstown Aviation Museum is a member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information about Washington County, see: www.marylandmemories.com. Also, the Hagerstown Aviation Museum has an exhibit and display at the Discovery Station Museum in Downtown Hagerstown, located at 101 West Washington Street. For more information see: www.discoverystation.org. At the Discovery Station exhibit, visitors can explore a collection of artifacts, memorabilia, exhibits and displays depicting the aviation heritage of the Hagerstown area, which for more than 70 years was the nation's leading center of aircraft manufacturing. Pioneers in the design, testing and manufacturing of well known aircraft plied their trade in Hagerstown, and the first aircraft manufactured in Maryland, was made in Hagerstown.

Contact: Kurtis Meyers, Hagerstown Aviation Museum; 717-377-3030

2 comments:

jtormey3 said...
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