A plane by any other name

March 18, 2007|by PEPPER BALLARD

Some aviation experts say the C-82 is not the "Flying Boxcar" as it has been repeatedly referenced by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum and news media outlets.

To at least one retired Fairchild worker, repeated references made by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum and news outlets calling the C-82 Packet military cargo plane the "Flying Boxcar" is like calling a Chevrolet a Ford.

Flying Boxcar is the official U.S. Air Force name given to the C-119, which was "an improved version" of the C-82 Packet, said Bob van der Linden, chairman of the aeronautics division at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Kurtis Meyers, president of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, said, "They were both called the flying boxcar - kind of."

Not so, says Richard McNeal, who began work at Fairchild in 1940 and retired after 45 years of service with the company. Calling the C-82 Packet the Flying Boxcar is irritating, McNeal said. He said he's seen several news agencies, including The Herald-Mail, call it that based on the museum's information.


"It's not that they're lying, but they just don't have the facts straight," he said. "It would be like, if you had a Chevrolet car and I say you've got a Ford."

McNeal, 84, said he's pulled people aside to tell them of the difference: "I said quit calling this plane a boxcar, it's a Packet."

McNeal, who is a retired Fairchild crew chief and pilot, said he did not fly the C-82, but appreciates the differences between the two planes: The two have different engines and landing gear, for example, he said.

Hagerstown Aviation Museum Treasurer John Seburn said, "By the time the C-119 was made, everybody was calling the C-82 a flying boxcar."

Information posted on the museum's Web site, at, refers to the C-82 it acquired in 2006 as the Flying Boxcar in almost all of its initial references to the plane.

A written release advertising an event today at the Hagerstown Aircraft Services facility near Hagerstown Regional Airport to announce the museum's acquisition of three additional donated planes refers to the C-82 as the Flying Boxcar and C-82, but not as the Packet.

To some Fairchild workers, the distinction doesn't matter.

Jack Alexander, 82, who began work at Fairchild in the early 1970s and retired as the manager of corporate flight operations 15 years later, said that the C-82 was before his time with the company.

He did say, however, that the C-82 is a Packet and the C-119 is a Flying Boxcar, but he's not bothered when different names are given them.

"It doesn't bother me at all. Both of them were before my time there," Alexander said. "It would matter to somebody who worked on them or flew them there."

Gene Huffman, 86, who worked for 41 years at Fairchild and worked on the C-82, said the nickname doesn't bother him.

Fairchild built 223 C-82s in the 1940s, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Huffman retired as a flight test inspector and said he called the plane simply a C-82.

"That would have been no concern to me. Whatever they wanted to call them, that was no concern to me," he said.

van der Linden said he doesn't doubt that people called the C-82 Packet a "flying boxcar," adding that it is "one ugly airplane," but said, "I have no information that it was" called that.

Historians with the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force "confirmed the C-82's nickname is the Packet. They said the C-119 is the Flying Boxcar," said Sarah Park, public affairs specialist for the museum.

Historians with the Air Force Historical Research Agency relayed the same information Friday.

The C-82 Packet was primarily used for cargo and troop transport during World War II, according to the Air Force museum. The Fairchild made C-119 Flying Boxcar was "designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by parachute," according to the Air Force museum's Web site.

More than 1,100 C-119s had been built by 1955 when production on the planes ceased, the Air Force Museum states. The C-119s were used extensively during the Korean War.

Many Fairchild retirees contributed to the $140,000 raised to buy the C-82 Packet at auction on Aug. 23. 2006, Seburn has said. It cost about $50,000 more to get it fit to fly, along with insurance, permits, fuel and other expenses, he said. It was flown from Wyoming to Hagerstown in October, The Herald-Mail has reported.

If you go

The event today at the Hagerstown Aviation Museum begins at 2 p.m. Frank Lamm, the pilot who flew the C-82 Packet from Wyoming to Hagerstown for the museum, will speak, the written release states.

The Hagerstown Aircraft Services facility is near Hagerstown Regional Airport, off U.S. 11, at 14235 Oak Springs Road.

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