During my short Central Georgia road trip, I visited the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation to walk through one of my favorite museums and see how the restoration of their B-17 is going.
I noticed that there was a change in the Eagle Building since my last visit. The P-51D that was in the Eagle Building, Ferocious Frankie, is no longer there and has been replaced by a Stinson L-5 Sentinel. I’m not sure what’s happened to the P-51D, as I didn’t see it in any of the other buildings or hangars; the only P-51 I saw was the P-51H in the Scott Hangar. Personally, I love to see unsung aircraft like Sentinel getting attention; the liaison/scout aircraft may not have had a glamorous job, but they had an important job.
The B-17 restoration is going very well and they’ve made quite a bit of progress since I was there last year. The fuselage is now in one piece and the wings are attached. The chin turret is attached as are the tail guns. They’re still doing a lot of corrosion removal on the body work, but there is work going on in the interior of the aircraft as well. I talked with one of the volunteers, and after I told him I had volunteered with the B-17 at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler, he showed my around the aircraft and what they’d been working on. From what he said, the engines that will be going on their B-17 are from the Memphis Belle, and they should go on after they get finished removing corrosion from the engine mounts.
Along with the B-17, other aircraft are in the Scott Hangar including a UC-78B Bobcat, a Vertol CH-21B Workhorse, and a C-47B Skytrain, none of which I’ve posted many photos of on my previous visits. The UC-78B, serial 42-71714, was acquired by the museum from Charleston AFB after the hangar it was in was heavily damaged by Hurricane Hugo. The aircraft’s wooden structure was in bad condition and it was restored over a ten year period by museum volunteers and students from South Georgia Technical College. The CH-21B, serial 52-8685, has an interesting and significant history; it was part of the Presidential Fleet at Andrews AFB and was the helicopter that flew Robert Kennedy to Andrews AFB to meet the aircraft carrying the body of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, after he was assassinated in 1963. The museum’s C-47B, serial 43-49442, hangs above the D-Day exhibit in the Scott Hangar; if you look above as you exit the exhibit, you can see a paratrooper exiting the aircraft and other static lines streaming behind the aircraft.
In the past, I’ve posted photos of the museum’s SR-71A, serial 61-7958, but this time I’m including some photos of some of the other items on display around it, including an engine, start cart, and main landing gear tires. Next to the aircraft is a Pratt & Whtiney J58 engine; two of these powered the SR-71A to speeds over 2,000 mph. Under the SR-71A is an AG330 start cart that was used to start its engines; the AG330 utilized two Buick 401 cubic inch displacement engines to get the job done. A close look at the SR-71A’s main landing gear reveals that they are gray; the color comes from the process used to manufacture them – aluminum was mixed into the rubber compound to enable the tires to stand up to the high temperatures generated by the SR-71’s high speeds.
Another aircraft that I haven’t posted much of on previous visits is the HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, serial 67-14703, in the Nugteren Hangar. This particular HH-3E served in both the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. It also served with the 41st RQS at Patrick AFB in support of space shuttle launches. Retired to the museum in 1994, it was returned to it’s Vietnam War era configuration in 2001/2002.
I can’t go the Museum of Aviation without taking photos of what is quite possibly my favorite of the museum’s aircraft, and a descendant of the HH-3E: MH-53M Pave Low, serial 70-1626. A faithful servant of our country’s armed forces, 1626 served in the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and various special operations missions.