183d Gate Guards Last Flights — part 1
I pulled into the airport later than usual due to a necessary errand in the city. At 8:15 the moving crew, easy to rcognize in their mostly-yellow hard hats were already at work preparing to lift the F-16, the first of three that would be mounted before lunch and two more that afternoon, to custom-built pedestals. By the time I retrieved my camera from the museum office and drove to a parking lot across the street from the action, it was a “work in progress.
Click on any image for a larger view.
With the Falcon securely perched, the intrepid cherry picker crew moved in close to disconnect the lifting harness from the airplane.
A close look at the front part of the vertical stabilizer reveals the serial number of this F-16A.
Following the harness disconnect from the 16, the crew proceeded to the nearby McDonnell F-4D which had served with the 183d.
The F-84F is the oldest former IL ANG aircraft in the array. The 183d was the first ANG unit to fly the 84F which replaced the F-86 Sabres based briefly in Springfield.
When the airplane was lifted from its pedestal at its former location, there was a slip as the rear sling unexpectedly moved forward early into the lift, and the tail almost impacted the ground. The crew caught it in time and the rest of the move to the waiting flatbed went as planned.
This time a brace was inserted forward of the rear sling that prevented slippage. The move went off without a hitch, so to speak.
There had been a moderate thundershower the night before the move, and there was initial concern about the heavy equipment turning the ground into a mud wallow, but to everyone’s relief, things had dried very well over the rest of the evening, and soggy terra firma was not a problem. The skies had threatened rain most of the morning, but Joe Crain, the local TV weatherman had promised none for the entire day. To my surprise and relief, he was right! The sky began to clear during lunch break.
Before the crew headed for lunch about 11:30, the placed the slings used with the 84F under the 33’s fuselage and departed the field. So did I. Lunch was waiting in my AeroKnow Museum office.
Part 2 of this three-part series will feature the placing of the T-33 and F-86 on their pedestals
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