Beginning Monday 19 March 2018, the Boeing B-52 2584 Midnight Express
began her journey to her new home at the Museum of Flight's Seattle
Campus. The journey comprised three phases - Disassembly,
Transport, and Re-assembly.
The first phase, Disassembly, began with the arrival of the crew from
Worldwide Aircraft Recovery from their home base in Omaha,
Nebraska. Complete Details here.
This webpage continues the story with the Transport of the
airplane from Paine Field in Everett, Washington to Boeing Field in
Seattle which took place on the nights of June 1 and 2, 2018.
The story in brief - after wing and tail removal, the fuselage was
jacked, the wheels and axles were removed, and the landing gear outer
cylinders were set on transverse transport beams.
Then large fore-aft steel beams picked up the transverse transport beams.
Next, additional beams were attached to these large beams for attaching over-the-road wheel sets.
These wheel sets were equipped with
hydraulics that allow them to raise and lower the load, which was
needed for overhead clearance in some locations.
The entire rig was equipped with several electrical generators for
lights and controls and hydraulic pumps for the hydraulic systems.
On the night of June 1, the Right wing, including the still attached Center Wing Box was transported to Boeing Field.
The following night, Saturday, the Left wing and fuselage were transported.
First, the entire transport rig was assembled and tested, and at Noon
on Saturday, the two units were moved from the Kilo 6 taxiway where the
work had been performed, east across the main runway, to an interim
jump-off location on the Boeing ramp. Then the convoy departed
onto the route - down I-405, north on I-5, to the Museum's main campus
at about 1130 PM. The trip down the Freeway was timing for about 2 - AM.
The wing required three transport units and was incredibly long. How big is it?
The fuselage is then all rigged and ready for her trip.
Time to head across Runway 16R-34L.
....and north on Alpha Taxiway to the Boeing ramp.
Here's the Before and After airborne shots from my plane.
The Ramp and Kilo 6 taxiway - scene of so much feverish activity over the past two months - is now empty.
Only the Horizontal Stabilizer is left to move.
The wings at Boeing Field awaiting the fuselage.
Driving down the Freeway in the middle of the night.
Kevin Clark - Everett Herald
After the successful fuselage move to Boeing Field, a short acceptance
and arrival ceremony was held in the Aviation Pavilion, followed by the
fuselage driving past on East Marginal Way, and then backing into the
Raisbeck Aviation High School parking lot where the airplane will be
Museum CEO Matt Hayes made some brief comments, followed by Jim Farmer,
Museum Trustee and former B-52 pilot (he was shot down over North Viet
Jim is flashing the audience!
Mr. Can-Do - he signed up for two more combat tours after
getting shot down and rescued from North Viet Nam. He flew 119
1/2 combat missions in the B-52.... the one mission he counts as "only"
a "half" since he didn't "complete" that one mission, and failed to
bring the airplane home, when they were shot down.
Fifteen B-52s were shot down during the War. I'm so very proud to call him a friend.
Jim has become the driving force for this project at the Museum, including very hard work in the fund raising arena.
After the remarks, the airplane was towed up the street for the crowd and TV station cameras.
Check out the clearance with the Skybridge - pretty tight, eh?
But, she made it!
Here are Tom Cathcart - Museum Director of Aircraft Collections and Jim Farmer, with the airplane arriving behind them.
and..here's my wife Dot - breaking down into a full cry session.
She knows.... knows just how momentous and fulfilling this moment is
after my 27 years of working on this project and how exasperating, and
lonely, so many of those years were....
I've had lots of those moments in my 50 plus year 'career' with the Museum - I often think of what Abe Lincoln once said: "It hurts too much to laugh.... and I'm too old to cry...."
But - Seeing that airplane roll by, in front of the crowd, made it all worthwhile. Isn't she grand!
I'm proud of her - she did her job - took her crews into harm's way, and brought them home safely.
The skill of the driver was incredible - in what was thought to be an
operation of several hours, backing and maneuvering the airplane
backwards down the High School drive, was done in one smooth movement.
Lots of people, including many Viet Nam vets and B-52 ground and air crew were on hand.
At one point, it looked like there would be a clearance problem between the tail and the school building.
Former Museum Chairman Anne Simpson was standing next to
me. She wondered aloud if there would be room, maybe the airplane
would have to be repositioned or some such. I told her "No. If there's a clearance problem, we'll just tear down the school to make room..."
The airplane comes First!
But - they knew what they were doing...
as the tail swung around and cleared!
Final backing into the parking lot.
And --- so now --- time to put her back together!
P.S. The smoothness of this operation is a testament to the
meticulous advance planning undertaken by Marty and his Worldwide
crew. They make it look easy - because they are the Best!
Here's Marty Batura "thanking" me for the successful operation to date.
"Yes, I already told the world you are 'the Best', Marty.
Sorry I didn't shave this morning..."
Tom Cathcart photo