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Aviation museum invites people to climb into exhibits

August 07, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Lewis Meadows walks toward a Fairchild Aviation "flying boxcar" cargo plane Sunday at Hagerstown Regional Airport.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Many museums don’t want you touching the merchandise.

They put up glass partitions so you can see, but not touch, or they post ropes and security guards around exhibits.

On Sunday, the Hagerstown Aviation Museum invited people to climb into some of their most precious exhibits — a Fairchild C-119 “flying boxcar” and a C-82 Packet, which was one of the first “flying boxcars” made at the Hagerstown Fairchild factory.

“It’s pretty cool they let you climb in them and all over them,” said Jeff Lewis, 32, of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Lewis and his family were visiting his father, Jim Lewis, of Williamsport.

Jeff Lewis is an aeronautical engineer helping to design a hybrid between a rotorcraft and airplane (with a helicopter’s rotor and vertical lift, and a plane’s wings) for Carter Aviation Technologies.

But it was the past Lewis and his family were finding interesting Sunday afternoon as the aviation museum held an “open airplane” day.

The museum doesn’t have an actual museum yet, President John Seburn said.

There’s a display and a Cessna 150 at Discovery Station in downtown Hagerstown, but the museum keeps its big planes stored near the old Fairchild plant at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Museum officials are hoping to open a visitors center at the airport within two years, Seburn said. It will probably be a modular building. While a hanger for the museum would be nice, it’s tough for any nonprofit group to raise money in this difficult economy, Seburn said.

On Sunday, children and adults were getting a kick out of climbing metal bars up into cockpits and sitting at the controls of planes that used to carry tanks and Jeeps.

“It’s cool. I like it,” said Raymond Kucharyk, 10, of Mount Airy, Md., who took a picture of the C-119’s cockpit with his handheld video game.

Raymond said the plane was “definitely bigger” than any of the Pipers or Cessnas his dad, Roman, has flown.

“It’s great. Brings back a lot of history,” said Roman Kucharyk, who engineered defense products and reconnaissance equipment at Fairchild’s Germantown, Md., operation in the late 1990s.

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