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'Flying Boxcar' set to return to town Sunday

October 31, 2008

After nearly two years of fundraising and preparations, the historic Fairchild C-119 "flying boxcar" donated to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum in 2006 is scheduled to be flown into town Sunday afternoon, museum officials said.

The plane, built in Hagerstown in 1953, has just undergone two months of inspection, maintenance and repair for its ferry flight from Greybull, Wyo., to Hagerstown, museum president Kurtis Meyers said.

Last month, the museum launched an emergency fundraising campaign after an inspection revealed the plane needed about $35,000 worth of repairs. The museum has not met that fundraising goal, but officials decided to make the repairs and proceed with the flight anyway because waiting until spring would have required much of the work to be performed again at added expense, Meyers said.

The museum's donated C-119 was one of more than 1,000 C-119s produced by Fairchild Aircraft in Hagerstown, Meyers said. The C-119 served as the primary cargo hauler for the U.S. military throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, but the one donated to the museum was one of a handful built for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Meyers said.

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It was purchased by Hawkins and Powers of Greybull in the 1980s and modified for use extinguishing forest fires. It also appeared in the 1989 Steven Spielberg movie "Always," starring Richard Dreyfuss.

The plane was donated to the museum by Robert Stanford, president of Zenith Aviation in Fredericksburg, Va., in December 2006.

As of Thursday afternoon, the plane was scheduled to take off from Greybull today at noon. It will make the trip in three legs, stopping in Ottumwa, Iowa, and Warrenton, Va., museum treasurer John Seburn said.

The plane should arrive in Hagerstown Sunday between 1:30 and 2 p.m., but museum organizers were cautious about predicting the exact timing of the return.

"This is a 56-year-old plane that has been mothballed and has needed extensive maintenance and tests to get it in flyable shape to come to Hagerstown," Meyers said in a press release. "We are keeping our fingers crossed that everything happens according to plan, that the weather holds out and that there's no mechanical problems with this antique plane."

Already, an oil leak on the propeller hub pushed the departure from Greybull back a day while the crew waited for a part, but the delay should not affect the plane's arrival time in Hagerstown, Seburn said.

Former Air Force and commercial airline pilot Frank Lamm of Gainesville, Va., is piloting the plane, with T.R. Proven of Haymarket, Va., as co-pilot and Jack Fastnaught of Columbia, S.C., as flight engineer.




If you go



What: Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar homecoming

When: Sunday, estimated arrival time between 1:30 and 2 p.m. Call 301-733-8717 or go to www.hagerstownaviationmuseum.org for updated arrival time estimates.

Where: Hagerstown Aircraft Services at Hagerstown Regional Airport, 1425 Oak Springs Road

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