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Sun, Mar 31, 2013

Georgia Museum Of Aviation Downsizing

Thirty-Two Aircraft To Be Relocated Or Scrapped

For the first time in its 29-year history the Georgia Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, GA, is having to take a step backwards, and is cutting 32 aircraft from its inventory. Some will be moved to other museums or put into storage, but others, among them a cold war iconic B-52 Stratofortress, will be scrapped. The Macon Telegraph newspaper reports the move was brought on by cuts in Air force personnel back in 2011. Museum Director Ken Emery says the cuts eliminated 11 civilian positions at the museum, most of whom were restoration personnel.

“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.”

Emery says the museum simply doesn't have the personnel to maintain the aircraft, many of which are on static display outdoors and are literally rusting away. One of the most notable is a B-52 Stratofortress, one of the museum's largest aircraft. While it looks fine from a distance, a close-up inspection reveals a rusting underbelly and others areas where painted over tape is the extent of restoration efforts.

Emery says the Stratofortress is the plane he most hates to lose but admits the museum has neither the money or the personnel to restore it. “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.”

Some of the aircraft will be sent to private museums but the B-52 will get no such second chance. A specialized machine will be brought in later this year to tear it apart and crush it.

But as the old saying goes, within every dark cloud is a silver lining. Emery says that by downsizing its collection, the museum will be in a better position to acquire other prized aircraft, including a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress. By cutting the 32 planes from its rolls the museum will open up needed hangar space and thereby hopes the National Museum of the Air force will gee them the desired 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.

As painful as this downsizing may be, museum officials say it is the right move to make and will benefit the museum in the long tun.

The aircraft to be relocated, stored, or destroyed include:
(*Indicates that the aircraft has already been removed from the museum)

  • 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*
  • GTD-21B
  • AGM-28B Houndog

As painful as this downsizing may be, museum officials say it is the right move to make and will benefit the museum in the long run.

(B-52, B-17 images from file)

 FMI: www.museumofaviation.org

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