C130 Comes to National Vigilance Park
U.S. Air Force C-130A
The 50th Anniversary Year of the United States Air Force provided a unique opportunity for the 694th Intelligence Group to work with other commands to acquire an aircraft to use as the centerpiece of an aerial reconnaissance memorial and to bring it to the site at Ft. Meade.
After some research, interested assignees at the NSA discovered C-130 airframes still in existence that might be used for a static display. Contact was made with key personnel in the Air Force, who helped identify candidate "mothballed" airframes at the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center ("The Boneyard") located at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The aircraft selected was built in 1957. It had last been used for cargo transport over six years ago.
The aircraft was restored to flying status and left Davis-Monthan on 15 May 1997. A four-man flight crew from the 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida, flew the aircraft under Visual Flight Rules to the Raytheon/E-Systems facilities at Greenville, Texas. The aircraft was minimally equipped to fly. The crew had a single VHF radio, a hand-held GPS unit and three Rand McNally road maps. The aircraft was stripped of old paint. The team in Greenville primed and repainted the aircraft in the configuration and paint scheme of the lost aircraft including the tail number 60528.
Another pilot and crew from the 40th Flight Test Squadron flew the aircraft to Tipton Airfield, Ft. Meade, Maryland, from Texas on 22 July 1997. The aircraft was refitted at Tipton by 175th Maintenance Squadron of the Maryland Air National Guard and with the support of the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron from Robins AFB, Georgia. These personnel removed the tail and parts of the wings and engines from the airframe so that it could be moved to its final destination at National Vigilance Park. On Sunday, 3 August 1997, the aircraft was towed through Fort Meade and past Agency buildings with assistance from Fort Meade military police, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and numerous NSA volunteers.