Donnerstag, 20. März 2014 - 22:25 Uhr
The T-38 Talon is being loaded in the desert this morning and will be heading to Bowling Green.
A NASA T-38 Talon airplane is on its way from Arizona to Bowling Green, where it is expected to arrive Saturday as the latest acquisition for the Aviation Heritage Park.
“We are incredibly excited that we’re getting this aircraft,” said Bob Pitchford, vice president of the park.
NASA maintained a fleet of T-38s for astronauts to use for travel and as chase planes. This particular plane, with a tail number of 901, was used by all the astronauts who flew missions during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, including John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong.
The primary motivation for getting this plane is that astronaut and U.S. Marine Col. Terry Wilcutt, a Russellville native and Western Kentucky University graduate, also flew the plane, which will be the fifth aircraft at the Aviation Heritage Park. It will be used to tell Wilcutt’s story.
“We’ll be able to say, ‘Touch this plane ... and you have touched the manned spaceflight history of this country,’ ” said Ray Buckberry, a park board member.
The aircraft is set to arrive by flatbed trailer at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport on Saturday afternoon from
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., where it has been since 2011 when NASA declared it surplus. Transporting the plane is costing around $40,000, and de-militarization costs about $17,000.
Dan Cherry, executive vice president of the park, was in Arizona earlier this week to ensure the plane was dismantled and loaded for transport.
“We’re anxious to get it here. It has so much history,” he said.
Though some of the planes at the park have been severely damaged, the T-38 has no damage, Cherry said. Primarily, park volunteers will need to clean, sand and paint the plane to get it looking as good as new.
“It’s going to require a good bit of work to get it the way we want it, but it will be a wonderful exhibit,” he said.
Unlike the other planes at the park, which are on loan, the T-38 was given outright to Warren County.
“We went through the same process as a Boy Scout would to get surplus cots,” Buckberry said.
Officials hope to have the exterior ready for the park’s annual Hanger Party in June, but it will be on display then regardless of its status.
“In whatever situation we’ll be in, we’ll display it,” Pitchford said.
The latest plane for the Aviation Heritage Museum, a NASA T-38, is set to arrive at the airport on Saturday.
Quelle: Bowling Green Daily News