Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Wichita has relatively few traffic problems, but traveling the streets can be a struggle at times. Even when they’re almost empty, towing an airplane across town can be a difficult task.
It’s something you don’t see every night – 38 feet wide, 25 feet long, traveling 15 miles across Wichita. At 3:00 this morning, the Cessna 310 began its journey. Its destination was the National Center for Aviation Training.
"We supply one plane per year to them and their students use that as a learning tool they tear the plane apart, repaint it, and then reassemble it and then we'll bring it back for display," says Kansas Aviation Museum Executive Director Lon Smith.
The partnership between the two programs doesn’t just benefit the students; it also improves the weather-battered planes at the Aviation Museum.
“It's a win, win for us as well because we, in about a year, we're going to get this plane back and it's going to look pristine," Smith says.
But getting the plane to the NCAT is no easy task.
"It's tough because there's a lot of signs, and different things that obstruct the way. You don't think about it when you're driving a car, but this plane has a thirty foot, or a thirty eight foot wingspan so it's a little tougher," says volunteer driver Terry Dobson. "It's a long slow process, and we, like we said earlier, we're going to err on the side of safety this morning."
The plane slowly made its way from one side of Wichita to the other, traveling at a pace of roughly 10 miles-per-hour, narrowly avoiding obstacles along the way.
"Clear, by three inches," says Dobson.
But finally, after about an hour of maneuvering, the plane reached its destination.
Dobson says, "We had one little hitch where we had to unhook from the truck and back it up by hand and reposition it to get it through some signs, but that was the only time we had that. The rest of the way it was pretty free and clear."
The National Center for Aviation Training students will get to work on the Cessna for the next year. After that, it will be returned to the Aviation Museum, where it will be put on display.