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Sad News from Robins


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WARNER ROBINS -- For the first time in its 29-year history, the Museum of Aviation is downsizing.

The museum is getting rid of 29 planes and three missiles, which is about a third of its total collection.

Museum Director Ken Emery said the move is largely due to Air Force personnel cuts in 2011 that eliminated eight civilian positions at the museum, most of whom were restoration specialists.

The museum doesn’t have enough personnel to properly maintain the aircraft, especially those outdoors, Emery said.

“We’ve only been growing since we started,†Emery said last week as he showed some of the planes slated for removal. “This is really the first time we’ve had to make real decisions on downsizing the collection to preserve quality versus quantity.â€

Some of the planes to be removed may not be missed much, but others certainly will. Probably the most notable one is the B-52 Stratofortress, a Cold War icon and one of the largest planes at the museum.

From a distance, the plane appears to be in good shape. But Emery showed places underneath where the hull has rusted through. Some of the spots are covered by painted-over tape.

Repairing such a large plane would be very expensive, Emery said, and it would continue to take many man-hours annually to maintain. Ultimately, he added, no plane left outdoors is going to last indefinitely.

He said the B-52 is the plane he most hates to see go, but there wasn’t much choice.

“The airplane is slowly deteriorating to the point that it is literally rusting away,†he said. “Even if I were to invest a whole lot of money and put it in good condition, it’s still sitting outside.â€

Another notable plane on the chopping block is the EC-135 Stratotanker. The large, white plane near Russell Parkway looks like a passenger jet. The EC-135 is an aerial refueler, but the one at the museum was modified and served as Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf’s plane as he conducted Desert Storm.

Some of the planes have been slated to be scrapped, some are being sent to private museums, while others are being sent to the Air Force’s storage facility in Arizona.

The National Museum of the Air Force determines the fate of the aircraft, and that hasn’t been decided for about half the planes on the list.

For those headed for a private museum, that museum is paying the cost of the disassembly and transport. That’s why large planes like the B-52 and EC-135 are being scrapped. The cost of moving those would be too much for most any museum.

Eight of the planes and one missile already are gone, and some others are being disassembled. Emery expects it will take about a year before all of the planes on the list are removed.

The B-52 is expected to be removed late this year. A specialized machine will be used to tear it apart and crush it.

Some of the planes to be removed are in hangars. While those planes do not require maintenance, Emery said it will free up space to move other planes indoors that the museum considers more significant.

The upside of it all, he said, is that the museum will be in a better position to acquire prized aircraft. The museum has long sought to get a B-17 bomber, the famed World War II plane known as the “Flying Fortress.†By freeing up hangar space and ensuring the collection is not too big for the staff to maintain, Emery hopes the National Museum of the Air Force gives it a B-17. The Air Force has 16 B-17s at its museums nationwide, and nine of those are outdoors. The Museum of Aviation has argued, unsuccessfully so far, that one of those outside should be moved here.

Houston County Commissioner Tom McMichael, who serves on the museum board, said he believes downsizing is the right move and will benefit the museum in the long run.

He said the museum had two planes of the same model in some cases.

“One of the things we are having to do is be a little more efficient,†he said. “It was kind of win-win. There were a lot of things we overstocked.â€

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2013/03/23/2409298/museum-of-aviation-dropping-32.html#storylink=cpy

The following planes are being removed from the Museum of Aviation collection:

B-52D Stratofortress

WB-57F Canberra*

RB-69A Neptune

C-60A Lodestar

C-119C Flying Boxcar

EC-121K Constellation

C-130H(YM) Credible Sport*

EC-135N Stratotanker

F-84E Thunderjet

F-86H Sabre*

F-89J Scorpion

F-94A Starfire*

F-100F Super Sabre

RF-101C Voodoo

F-101B Voodoo

F-104A Starfighter*

F-105G Thunderchief

F-4C Phantom

TH-13M Sioux*

HH-34J Choctaw

HH-43A Huskie

TG-4A Yankee Doodle

AT-11 Kansan

T-28A Trojan

T-38A Talon

T-39A Sabreliner

U-4 Aero Commander*

X-25A Gyro-copter

BAE MK53 Lightning*

Missiles being removed:

CGM-13 Mace*


AGM-28B Houndog

*Already removed

Some of these are historically significant. I hope they are not all going for beer cans. I hear the Credible Sport is already in the aircraft battle damage trainer area.

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2013/03/23/2409298/museum-of-aviation-dropping-32.html#storylink=cpy

Edited by bobdaley
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I would think that the F-86 and F-4 would be kept. These 2 sure played a big part in the U.S.'s last 2 big conflicts, Korea and RVN.

Sorry to say that I've actually worked on a number of those birds at one time or another:

B-52D Stratofortress (Depot at Kelly AFB 72-73)

EC-121K Constellation (C-121C WPAFB 69-70)

F-100F Super Sabre (WPAFB 69-70)

F-101B Voodoo (WPAFB 69-70)

T-28A Trojan (tech school 69)

T-38A Talon (FTD school and Laughlin AFB 72)

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I'll take the connie, since they wouldn't give me the Credible sport plane it would make up for that :)

Good luck with those R3350 compound engines. The PRT was a bitch to work on. And pulling chocks - don't wear any good fatigues. If you aren't covered with oil spray, the oil tank is probably empty.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It is strange to see an expensive operational acft (flown into Robins by JT himself) going on display at the museum yet we have no room or expertise to maintain the acft already in the museum. Wonder if they could sell JT's acft and then take the cash to build more facilities or be used to take care of other USAF acft?

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