Hull Will Serve As The Entrance To The Airport's Aviation-Themed Park
A fifteen-foot long cross section of a Boeing 737 is on its way to Greenville, SC, from Greenwood, MS, for use as a handicapped-accessible park entrance at Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU).
The section of the airliner was located in August by Steve Hunter of GE Capital Aviation Services, according to KGMU Airport director Joe Frasher. "Our local airport’s sheriff’s department pilot, Chris Hines, happened to mention to his friend at the FAA that we were looking for a fuselage for our new community aviation themed park," he said. After the fuselage was found, the project was turned over to Cyndi Long, Site Operations Manager for GE Capital Aviation Services in Greenwood, MS, where the airplane was located. She found some of her coworkers who were willing to volunteer their time and labor to help with the project. They recruited Aircraft Demolition, Inc. to volunteer to cut the 737 and mechanics with GE Capital Aviation Services used a fork lift to lift the plane’s hull onto a truck. As you can imagine, this took a lot of coordination. Mark Randolph with J. Grady Randolph, Inc., a South Carolina trucking company, offered to transport it for half
the cost than was initially quoted. "With wide load accompanying vehicles being needed, state permits that had to be obtained and current fuel prices, I suspect they are doing it at cost,” Frasher said.
When the fuselage arrives in Greenville, Ed Vinson of Paragon Building Systems has donated his time and their crane to take the plane off the truck and place it in a Greenville Jet Center aircraft hangar where instructors and students with Greenville Technical College's Aircraft Maintenance Technology program have offered to provide the man hours needed to modify the fuselage into a handicapped accessible park entrance.
“Real world aviation projects where students can use their newly learned skills in metal work are hard to come by,” said Carl Washburn, Department Head for Aircraft Maintenance Technology at Greenville Technical College. “This project will provide hands on experience using an authentic aircraft fuselage that will be used to share our love of aviation with others, a win-win for us all.”
The public park opened last fall as an open green space. The educational amphitheater, irrigation system, grass, fencing, paved exercise "Perimeter Taxiway" and the walking "Runways" are all in. This spring, aviation themed playground equipment will be added for children 2 – 5 years old and the park’s “Runways” and “Perimeter Taxiway” will be painted to look like real ones. The park is located at 21 Airport Road Extension, Greenville SC, 29607. "As soon as Greenville Tech completes the necessary changes to the fuselage, it will be installed along with a new fence at the front of the park,” stated Parks McLeod of McLeod Landscape Architects, designer of the park.
“Many local individuals and companies have donated to the park project and we have held several fundraisers,” stated Frasher. “We are now applying for grants, planning more fundraisers and seeking financial help to add aviation themed playground equipment for school aged children 5 - 12 years old and for a picnic pavilion. We even have a fundraising 5k on the Runway planned for Saturday, May 25th," Frasher said.
(Images provided by Greenville Downtown Airport)