What may be the last airworthy Fairchild Aircraft Corp. C-82 now belongs to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum in Hagerstown, Md.
It is a homecoming of sorts because between 1945 and 1948 the Fairchild factory in Hagerstown produced 223 C-82 Packet cargo and troop transport planes.
“This is one of the most important airplanes built in Hagerstown as it was the first true cargo airplane built for the military,” explained Kurtis Meyers, museum president. “Very few of the aircraft are left and the ones that survive are not airworthy. They are on static display in museums. This one will likely be the exception.”
Museum officials acquired the aircraft by placing the winning bid of $140,000 when the plane went up for auction on Aug. 23. It was one of the items placed on the block during the liquidation of Wyoming-based Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc.
For some 35 years the company provided aircraft to the United States Forest Service for use in fighting fires. In the summer of 2002, the crash of two Hawkins & Powers airtankers prompted a review of the USFS aerial fire-fighting operations and resulted in the grounding of all heavy air tankers throughout the industry. Although the company was cleared of any wrongdoing by the FAA and the NTSB, it ceased firefighting operations and began to downsize.
As this issue of General Aviation News was going to press, museum officials were making plans to have the C-82A ferried back to Hagerstown.
“We have an annual fly-in that is slated for Oct. 7-8 this year and we hope to have it arrive on that Saturday,” said Meyers. “That is a best-case scenario, of course.”
With a 106-foot wingspan, 75-foot length and 26-foot height, the 1945 Packet will be the centerpiece of the museum’s planned exhibit hall, according to museum officials.
Even when it was fresh off the assembly line, the plane, sometimes known as the “Flying Boxcar,” had limited use by the U.S. military. It was produced too late to be of much use during World War II, and within a few years was replaced by the C-119, which was officially known as the “Flying Boxcar.”
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