Moving the latest addition to Owens Community College’s new $20.5 million Center for Emergency Preparedness at the convergence of Tracy and Walbridge roads in Lake Township, Ohio, was a job better left to the experts, according to Brad Meyer, director of public relations at Owens.
Owens “is one of only two academic institutions in the state to have rescue simulators for the training of first responders. The new Center for Emergency Preparedness fulfills a need for a rather expansive complex that can provide real-world training in a safe and controlled environment,” Meyer said.
The Center officially opened in April 2007.
Logistics for moving the aircraft was left to the experts at Worldwide Aircraft Recovery Ltd. of Bellevue, Neb. The company has done extensive work for NASA and the Smithsonian Institute, as well as for more than 600 other organizations, from the U.S. military to museums to the owners of warbirds.
Worldwide has relocated more than 2,500 aircrafts ranging from priceless vintage (Douglas World Cruiser) to modern jets (F-15s).
Worldwide Aircraft Recovery Inc. was responsible for disassembling and transporting the aircraft. They also will re-assemble the 133-ft. (40.5 m) long, 85,975-lb. (39,000 kg) donated Boeing 727 aircraft at its new home.
According to Worldwide Aircraft Recovery, a 35-ton Terex crane was used and Henry Gurtzweiler Inc., a company in Toledo, owned the crane.
On Sept. 9, the former FedEx transport departed Toledo Metcalf Field Airport’s main entrance in Millbury, made a right turn onto Lemoyne Road and traveled southbound to Ohio state Route 795. It then made a right turn onto SR 795 and traveled westbound to Oregon Road, then turning from Oregon Road onto Walbridge Road.
A custom trailer, specially built in Canada for Barney Stotz at Skippers Shipper of Jensen Beach, Fla., was used.
The aircraft’s two wings, two outbound engines, and the vertical and horizontal tail were removed, and the landing gear was placed in a store position prior to it being placed on a specially designed flatbed trailer.
The 40-year-old freighter aircraft, donated by FedEx, will give first responders the opportunity to conduct realistic, hands-on scenario training involving a major aircraft. Owens serves as home to the only aircraft rescue simulator in northwest Ohio.
FedEx used the aircraft for more than 18 years, to transport packages to destinations throughout the United States. Once reassembled, it will sit diagonally atop a concrete and asphalt pad at the Center.
According to an Owens press release, “at 33 feet in height, the aircraft will provide trainees with the latest in hands-on instruction and educational resources to conduct multi-agency response scenarios such as bomb searches, drug searches, hazardous material emergencies, hostage situations, rescue operations and medical emergencies. The aircraft also can be filled with theatrical smoke to simulate dust, fire or hazardous material fumes, as well as stage movable vehicle accident training, featuring extrication exercises.”
At Owens, first responder agencies will train in natural and man-made disasters, riots, entrapments, and weapons of mass destruction. Potential venues may include urban and suburban areas, airports, chemical plants, industrial sites, and rural areas, according to the press release.
Owen’s facility currently offers 13 simulators and props for scenario-based training, not including the former FedEx aircraft.
The only other emergency response training facility somewhat similar is operated by the federal government. Currently, Owens is the only higher education facility for multi-agency training in the Midwest.
Many organizations and groups assisted in relocating the aircraft, according to Meyer. Some of those involved included Toledo Edison, the Ohio Department of Transportation, Buckeye CableSystem, Time Warner, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Perrysburg Township Police Department and the Lake Township Police Department. CEG