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'Spirit of Mansfield' finds new home at MAPS Museum


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'Spirit of Mansfield' finds new home at MAPS Museum


88-4401 (#5154)

Kelly Byer

The Repository

GREEN − The "Spirit of Mansfield" became the largest military plane at the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) Museum with its arrival Saturday.

The C-130H Hercules, which was previously flown from the Mansfield-Lahm Air National Guard base to the Akron-Canton Airport, was towed to MAPS just west of the airport while about 50 people watched. With a wingspan greater than 132 feet, it took about an hour or more of maneuvering and wood placed under one side to lift a wing over the museum's gate.

"It's very difficult to move this thing," said Kim Kovesci, the museum's executive director.

In 2021, the Air Force announced plans to transition the Mansfield base into the Air National Guard's first Cyber Warfare Wing. Because of its size, Kovesci said, there wasn't much competition for one of the eight, aging C-130Hs.

The plane was retired from the Mansfield base and, because the military still uses Hercules planes, is considered on loan to the museum.

Kovesci and Ray Weber, a retired squadron commander who flew the Hercules and other aircraft out of Mansfield, said getting the plane mostly involved a lot of paperwork.

Weber is a MAPS volunteer and retired from the 179th Airlift Wing, a unit of the Ohio Air National Guard. The Air National Guard is a separate reserve component of the U.S. Air Force. His son and grandson also have flown for the Air National Guard.

Weber has flown even larger planes than the Hercules transport and cargo plane but said its 155,000 pounds are easily maneuvered and capable of landing on only 3,000 feet of runway. That particular Hercules has made 14,450 landings.

"It's going to be a big asset to the museum," Weber said. "It's our biggest airplane yet."

Penny Schoenberger, a MAPS volunteer who was a master sergeant with the Air National Guard, said she performed maintenance for the 179th Airlift Wing for 10 years. Her late husband also was a master sergeant at the Mansfield base and flew many missions on C-130Hs.

"I'm just excited that it's coming here," said Schoenberger, who grew up in North Canton.

Kovesci said the MAPS Museum tries to maintain displays that are significant for the Northeast Ohio region. The C-130Hs have been flown out of Mansfield and Youngstown, and a lot of area residents "have a history" with them.

"This fits right in," Kovesci said.

The Hercules joins about 60 other military aircraft at the MAPS Museum, 2260 International Parkway.

Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323 or [email protected] Twitter: @kbyerREP



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