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Jigsaw puzzle plane

Aircraft reassembled for aviation museum

Mechanics and technicians attach a wing to a FedEx airplane for the National Museum of Commercial Aviation at the site of its future building in Forest Park Tuesday.

Mechanics and technicians attach a wing to a FedEx airplane for the National Museum of Commercial Aviation at the site of its future building in Forest Park Tuesday.

— As crew members worked to reassemble a retired FedEx Fokker F27 airplane, FedEx Technical Service Specialist Wendell Strickland noticed something was off with one of the wings.

Another crew member had removed a pin from the spot where a wing attached to one of the propeller engines. That caused Wendell to notice a shift in the wing.

“Did you see the wing drop a little bit just now when you removed that pin?” Wendell asked his colleague.

A crew of mechanics and technicians from FedEx, Mountain Air Cargo, consultants and volunteers from the National Museum of Commercial Aviation have gathered at the museum’s future permanent site in Forest Park this week to reassemble the plane, which will be featured in the museum.

photo

Curt Yeomans

FedEx Tech Services Specialist Randall Denney (left) talks to colleagues about a wing they were reattaching to an old FedEx cargo plane.

Clayton County Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott said the Fokker F27, as well as other airplanes and aircraft equipment, have to be reassembled and put in their final parking space before the museum’s permanent hangar-style structure is built. In addition to overseeing economic development in the county, Wainscott is also the museum’s volunteer executive director.

“This is really our groundbreaking for our permanent campus,” Wainscott said. “This is us beginning land disturbance and preliminary preparation work.”

He said an outdoor exhibit featuring the aircraft is expected to open next summer to build excitement for the new facility. He added construction of the permanent museum building is expected to begin a year from now.

The wings of the twin-propeller airplane were attached Tuesday and the tail section is expected to be attached Wednesday, said Beth Rush, a FedEx aircraft acquisition and sales advisor.

Rush said FedEx is excited about the museum’s permanent campus plans and has even given the museum a second plane — a Boeing 727-100 — for its collection and education and training center. The 727-100, which is also disassembled on the same property as the Fokker F27, will be partially reassembled at a later date, she said.

Both aircraft were previously used for training at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after FedEx took them out of regular service, Rush said.

She further explained the F27 and the 727-100 are just two of the 59 airplanes FedEx has given out to museums, college aviation programs and fire departments through its aircraft donation program. The F27 was donated to the museum in March 2011, while the 727-100 was donated four months later, Rush said.

“We gave these planes to the museum because it is known for two things,” Rush said. “For one, it’s going to have an air cargo focus which, for FedEx, is an opportunity for us to tell our story. Second, it’s going to be the first aviation career center attached to a museum and that’s really important to us. We’re looking for the next generation of aviation professionals, so we’d very much like for them to succeed.”