The main part of a 63-year-old Fairchild airplane rolled back home Friday.
About a dozen people, including Hagerstown Aviation Museum President John Seburn, turned out to greet it.
“It’s a big relief,” Seburn said. “It’s great to have it home.”
Fairchild Aircraft operated for years at the large complex, now known as New Horizons Industrial Park, that stands next to Hagerstown Regional Airport. The company manufactured several types of aircraft, including 303 C-123 Providers that were built from 1954 to 1958.
“More than 10,000 Fairchild employees worked on this plane and other Fairchild products during the 1950s,” the museum’s website states. “Used during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s as an Air Force cargo and troop carrier aircraft, the C-123 went on to become one of the workhorses of the Vietnam War. Dependable and sturdy, the C-123 transported troops and supplies into and out of some of the most difficult and dangerous airfields.”
The museum’s C-123 was built in 1956. The nonprofit organization acquired the plane in 2012 from the U.S. Treasury Department.
“It had been a seized aircraft,” Seburn said.
But there was one problem: The plane was in Florida.
At first, the museum hoped to repair the plane so it could be flown from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Hagerstown Regional Airport.
“We worked a lot of years to try to get it to fly,” Seburn said.
But in the end, the museum decided to take the airplane apart and truck the pieces from Florida to Maryland.
That turned out to be a bit of work as well.
According to a post on the museum’s Facebook page, getting the necessary permits in Virginia to transport the fuselage could have taken up to two weeks. So the trucking company took a route around Virginia, traveling from Florida through Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, then heading through West Virginia to Maryland.
On Friday afternoon, the fuselage — what Seburn called “the last and largest piece” — rolled back onto the former Fairchild grounds where it was built.
“The next step is to start putting it back to together,” he said.
The C-13 will join several other Fairchild aircraft that the museum has housed on and near Hagerstown Regional Airport.
The museum has posted information about the C-123 project, as well as a link where people can donate to help with transportation and renovation costs, at www.hagers townaviationmuseum.org.