Thursday, January 27, 2011

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville military museum lands C-130

Leader staff writer

A C-130 will soon leave Little Rock Air Force Base for a permanent position just a mile or so away next to the Jacksonville Museum of Military History off Main Street.

DannaKay Duggar, museum director, made the announcement at the recent meeting of the city’s advertising and promotion commission, adding that the museum may possibly need the commission’s help in funding the cost of the concrete pad needed to display the aircraft. The commission helped the museum about two years ago with the concrete pad that holds the F-15 on the south side of the museum.

The C-130, which will be one of the recently decommissioned E models, will be placed on the north side of the museum. If all goes right, it should be on display in September to help celebrate the base’s birthday.

This will be the second C-130 display in the area. The other is at the base’s Heritage Park.

Warren Dupree, curator and catchall for the museum, said the organization has been working on getting a C-130 for a number of years now. “It’s been an on-again, off-again proposition, that is on, we hope for sure, this time,” he said.

Dupree said the museum has had a C-130 “with its name on it for about a year and half,” but has been taking care of all the red tape. “We are happy to finally be on the homestretch. We look at this as a major recycling project. Instead of the plane going to the bone yard, it’s coming to us,” he said.

The C-130 first joined the Air Force fleet in December 1956. The C-130E models, at a cost of about $12 million apiece, first hit the skies for the Air Force in August 1962.

When asked if there was enough space for the nearly 98-foot-long aircraft and its 133-foot wingspan, Dupree said without a doubt. He and Joan Zumwalt had spent a hot July day a number of years ago taking very careful measurements. Those measurements were then verified by a consulting engineer. “We have the space,” Dupree said.

Dupree said the museum can’t calculate a true cost of the pad yet. “We are waiting to find out everything we need, but we will have it ready,” he said.

The museum may go back to the A&P commission to ask for  funding to build the pad and cover other costs to display the C-130, but at the meeting the commission approved its 2011 budget, which already includes $43,000 in assistance to the museum.