A group of people, some in military uniforms, gathered on a patch of grass in between a runway and taxiway, heads tilted back, eyes on the gray-blue sky.

The group — along with some gawkers lined up against the fence in the back of Frederick Municipal Airport — were looking for a plane, one much larger than what usually lands at the airport. It wasn’t until it landed for what would be its last time that the size of this U.S. Air Force C-130 could be fully appreciated.

The sound made by the steel gray C-130 made its descent and landed on the runway at Frederick Municipal Airport was so loud that many of those who gathered where the plane would ultimately come to rest had earplugs to block out the noise from the plane’s propellers.

The plane will stay at Frederick Municipal Airport for at least five weeks as it is disassembled. Wings will come off, propellers detached. Then it will be towed, on its own wheels, to Fort Detrick’s Area B, located across Rosemont Avenue from the main campus.

There, the decommissioned plane will be reassembled and equipped to be a testing simulator, allowing the Air Force Medical Evaluation Support Activity to test devices, situations or procedures. It will not be used for training, said Aaron Nelson, deputy chief of Air Force Medical Evaluation Support Activity.

During the remodel, crews will add a Bose speaker system so the test operators can simulate in-flight noises or what it sounds like on the ground. There will be different simulations that include what it is like if there is a fire on the plane or other dangerous situations, said Roger Davila, program manager and electronic designer with one of the Air Force’s Trainer Development Squadrons.

It took approximately three years to secure funding and plan for the plane’s final resting spot at Fort Detrick, Nelson said.

“We’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while,” he said.

The C-130 was built in 1974 and has more than 24,000 inflight hours. But Nelson did not know much about the plane’s history. He said he hoped that it would come along with the cargo plane.

“We’re kind of curious to see where it’s been,” he said.

C-130 is a type of military cargo airplane. It can be used for transporting people or supplies. It can also be used to transport patients. While there are nurses and medics on the flight, most patients in a C-130 should be stable for transport, Nelson said.

After the plane arrived from Mansfield, Ohio, a second military plane landed at the airport to pick up the military members to fly them back to Ohio.

Fort Detrick is an important federal partner for Frederick, said Richard Griffin, director of the city’s economic development. The city was happy that its airport could be used to assist with the transport of the plane to Fort Detrick, he said.

Griffin is looking forward to seeing the plane transported through the city to its new home.

“And obviously, when they do that, it’ll be an interesting thing for people to see,” he said.

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Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(18) comments


They forgot to include that while it will be dissembled and moved to Detrick, it will be accomplished at great expense to the taxpayer, for no good reason, except to be on static display in an Army base where only those authorized to go on base can actually watch it slowly rust and atrophy for years before it will then be scraped, again at taxpayer expense. Just another reason taxpayers get so enraged with government officials who are so at ease with spending our money.


Cool...don't see many big planes at Frederick Airport.


Perhaps those 'gawkers' as the author so eloquently stated are aviation enthusiasts. Poor choice of words.


Could be. Or they could be gawkers or rubber neckers.


Would be a useful addition to that area. I hope it's visible from Shookstown Rd to passers-by to view. It would be nice for a public viewing time before it's dismantled as it's not every day these things arrive like this.


We don't need drivers to be distracted by a big airplane.


Anticipated total cost for all this is?????


A fraction of a fraction of a drop of water in the oceanic budget...and don't forget there are benefits from this as well. Sheesh.




What are they?


Nobody cares. It's military related so any amount of money is ok. DoD is moving millions and millions to build a stupid wall running from nowhere to nowhere, but it is taking it from soldier's benefits like health care and education, not from boondoggles like parades and this show off.


it would be great if they would make it avaliable for the public to come see it and get to go through it before they take it apart. I for one would love to do that


Tell us how your life would be degraded if you never got to do that.


"Gawkers"? How about interested citizens? It would have been nice to know a little more in advance that this event was happening. Hopefully, there will be plenty of notice before it travels through the streets of Frederick.


My wife and I were on East Patrick Street headed for the MVA and saw this huge plane landing right in front of us. When we parked at the MVA and got out we could hear the roar of the plane from the airport. We were marveling at the fact that a plane that big could land there. Nice to find out what it was all about.


C-130's can land on very short runways. FAP is not a short runway. Could be longer but it can do it. Do you have any idea how hot those things get? Never noticed before when flying around back in the states. Go to Kuwait or Iraq in the summer, I don't care if you are 20,000 feet in the air, it gets hot!


My cab ride when I was Naval aviation years ago.

One trip a bunch of us VA Sailors grew tired of sitting on the uncomfortable web-seats and decided to plop down on a pile of sea-bags. One of the 130 aircrew said we should move but the sea-bags were more comfortable, so we stayed. We hit an air pocket and sea-bags and Sailors went everywhere. We moved! [beam]


I've taken off in a C-130, but I've never landed in one...

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