Take another look at Fairchild history Sept. 18

September 08, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

Has it really been more than 20 years since Fairchild Aircraft closed its Hagerstown plant? Sadly, yes. But those who worked there or people who just admired the planes built there will have a chance to relive old memories and perhaps learn something new on Saturday, Sept. 18.

That's when a variety of local groups, led by Washington County Free Library, will hold "Fairchild Airplanes & the People Who Built Them" at the Rider Jet Center at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Marsha Fuller, the event's chair, said Vintage Video Productions, which has produced a new film on Hagerstown aviation, came to the library with an offer to donate part of the proceeds from its video and DVD sales to the library's Transportation Room project.

As part of the library's planned expansion, Fuller said that there will be a room dedicated to the history of the C&O Canal, the railroads and even automobiles, which were once made in Hagerstown.


Library officials then approached the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose president, Tom Riford, agreed to be the co-chair, Fuller said.

From there, the donations just kept on coming, Fuller said. A.C.&T. Co. offered to donate portable toilets, she said, and Rider Jet Center will host the event. It will begin at 2 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. demonstration of the A-10 warplane, the last plane manufactured at Fairchild's plant here.

Fairchild produced 713 units of the plane from 1973 through 1984. Known as the "Warthog," it was ordered by the Pentagon, which feared a possible tank invasion of Europe. The planes have also seen service in Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq.

A-10 combat pilots will be on hand to speak about their experiences with the aircraft, Fuller said. That will give the people who made the aircraft a unique opportunity to speak to those who flew them, she said.

But the A-10s won't be the only planes on site, Fuller said.

"It's going to be fabulous. We'll have a display of vintage airplanes, many made by Fairchild," she said, explaining that collectors will fly them in for the show.

The Vintage Video production of "Hagerstown: Remembering Our Aviation Heritage," will premier at the Rider Jet Center at 4:30 p.m., Fuller said.

"They have incredible footage, a lot of which they bought on eBay or from private collectors," she said.

There will also be displays of memorabilia and anyone who'd like to bring more is encouraged to bring it to the main library on South Potomac Street prior to the event, so it can be catalogued and a receipt provided to the owner, Fuller said. But the best part may be that the show, which will run from 2 to 6 p.m., will be entirely free, courtesy of the aforementioned sponsors and the Washington County government. The only cost will be for food, which will be provided by the Maugansville Volunteer Fire Department.

The Rider Jet Center is on the north side of the airport. To reach it, park in the Citicorp Credit Services parking lot, where shuttle buses will be available.

If you'd like more information about the event, you can call 301-739-3250, ext. 128, or visit

If you can't attend, but would like purchase a video, visit Vintage Video's Web site at:

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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