Hagerstown Aviation Museum raising money to repair Flying Boxcar

September 25, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Aviation Museum has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to cover unexpected repairs to a historic, Hagerstown-made airplane it hopes to fly into town next month, according to museum president Kurtis Meyers.

An inspection revealed the 1953 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar donated to the museum in 2006 needs about $35,000 worth of additional repairs before it can be flown from Wyoming to its new home at the museum, and time is running out, Meyers said.

If the museum were to wait until spring to complete the repairs, it would have to pay for a new inspection, wasting about $25,000 that has been spent for that purpose, Meyers said. To avoid the added expense, museum officials must raise $35,000 by Oct. 4, he said.

The plane was donated to the museum by Robert Stanford, President of Zenith Aviation in Fredericksburg, Va., in December 2006, and museum supporters have donated more than $40,000 since then to cover repairs and inspections needed to fly the plane to Hagerstown from Greybull, Wyo., Meyers said.


The C-119, a military cargo plane, is the most iconic of all the airplanes produced by Fairchild Aircraft's Hagerstown manufacturing plant, Meyers said.

"It was the one that put Hagerstown on the map as an airplane manufacturer in the 1950s," he said. "There are thousands of people who are living around here who worked at Fairchild at that time, and it's really the one they remember."

The C-119 donated to the museum was made in Hagerstown and sold to the Canadian military, which used it until the 1980s, at which point it was bought by a company in Wyoming to drop water on wildfires, Meyers said.

Until an inspection this month, neither the museum nor Stanford knew that a previous owner had removed some parts of the plane to put on another aircraft, Meyers said. To meet FAA approval for flight, the plane needs two main landing gear tires and brakes replaced, propeller blades replaced on one engine, a fuel tank leak repaired, two ailerons repaired or replaced, additional engine run-up tests and several other small repairs, Meyers said.

The inspection is good for only 120 days, meaning the museum must either race to make repairs or shell out another $25,000 to start the inspection process over, Meyers said.

"It's kind of a Catch-22 situation, in that you don't know about most of this until you start (inspecting)," he said.

How to donate

Donations may be sent to Hagerstown Aviation Museum, 14235 Oak Springs Road, Hagerstown, MD 21742. Checks should be made out to Hagerstown Aviation Museum.

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