A Cessna 310 will soon “fly” over the new aviation-themed park at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in South Carolina.
“About two weeks ago, I got an email about a static display plane that was being auctioned off by The State of Georgia,” said Joe Frasher, airport director. “The bidding was ending within 48 hours and the winner was supposed to pick it up within 5 days. After a few phone calls, we decided to go for it…up to $2,500 that is.. since we knew that we would also need to pay to relocate it here and very skilled workers with special tools, a crane and large truck would be needed. We ended up getting it for just under $2,200, which was a deal. Planes like these can cost upwards of $40,000 and modifying one into a display plane is costly. This plane was meant to be here in the new park — the deal just landed into our laps and the whole thing arrived here without any turbulence.”
“We wanted it taken apart and shipped very carefully as to enable us to rebuild it,” he said. “We reached out to our aviation contacts in Georgia and one said that they were very happy with a company who had moved two planes for them. So we reached out to them and they were incredible! As you can see by the photos, it was no easy task!”
“This was a great experience for our small company and we greatly appreciated being involved. Everything went very smoothly. It was cool to see Southway’s crane carefully lay it on our trailer, like it was coming in for a perfect three point landing,” stated Dan D. Williams of Lakefront Enterprises, the company who was hired to move the plane. “I am glad that she has a new home and will get to ‘fly’ again sometime soon.”
The plane, believed to be built in 1962, arrived in Greenville after a road trip from Cochran, Georgia, which is about 2 hours South of Atlanta.
“The plane was on display at Middle Georgia State College’s Cochran Campus,” Frasher noted. “The school recently changed its colors and they decided to repaint one static aircraft display that they had and to sell another one, luckily for GMU.”
Now in pieces, the plane is located in a Greenville Jet Center aircraft hangar at GMU. Soon volunteers from USAeroTech, a local aircraft maintenance training school, will help put it all back together, according to Frasher.
“This is a really neat project that we love to be involved in, because it can help us teach our students hands on working knowledge of how aircraft are constructed, and it also benefits our community,” said Mark D. Spang, a partner with USAeroTech.
“The park project was conceived to fill a need since over 10,000 school children a year used to visit our area’s local commercial airport, GSP, before 9/11,” said GMU’s Lara Kaufmann. “They can no longer do that due to security changes. GMU receives many inquiries from large groups that would like to come out to the airport for a tour, but we were not always able to accommodate many of them since our facility would not accommodate 80-100 children. This is the number that we are told that the school system needs to justify bus usage for a field trip. Our region is attracting many aviation companies and they are having a hard time finding skilled workers. We believe that exposure to aviation may inspire some kids to enter engineering, air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, or to become a pilot or CNC Machinist. All of these are high paying jobs that are or will be needed to be filled locally.”
The free, open to the public, aviation-themed park currently includes an educational amphitheater, paved exercise “Perimeter Taxiway” and walking “Runways” as well as aviation themed playground equipment for children 2–5 years old, a swing set and an airplane “Climber.”
“Many local individuals and companies have donated to the park project and we have held several fundraisers,” stated Frasher. “We are now applying for grants, planning more fundraisers and seeking financial help to add aviation themed playground equipment for school aged children 5-12 years old, for the design and installation of educational signage and for a picnic pavilion, which will most likely resemble an aircraft hangar. If we find a naming rights sponsor, then the park could be completed this year!”