We have learned more, but not everything, about the giant airplane fuselage that went through Concord

  • C-130 going through Concord Nov. 18, 2020 Reynolds

  • The C-130 fuselage is shown in Hopkinton, en route to I-89 north, on Wednesday. The wings were carried on a separate tractor-trailer that could stay on major roads because they weren’t too tall to fit under bridges or toll booths. Courtesy of Buzz Whalen

Monitor staff
Published: 11/20/2020 5:06:40 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 5:06:26 PM

The huge military airplane fuselage that was hauled through downtown Concord this week, slowing traffic and raising a million questions, was on its way to North Carolina from Pease airport, but what brought it to New Hampshire and why it’s headed down South remains a mystery.

The Monitor is awaiting a response from the public affairs office for the U.S. Air Force, which seems to own or at least be the responsible party for the fuselage. We’re told that no answer is expected until next week.

Here is what we do know.

The fuselage is from a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a military transport plane. It was hauled on a large flatbed tractor-trailer by Hurricane Specialized, a trucking company in Franklin, Indiana. The wings were carried on a separate tractor-trailer.

“We do quite a few of them a year,” said Shawna Geralds, operations manager at Hurricane Specialized, concerning the plane. “We move them to different museums or just to different training facilities.”

She talked about one C-130 that was sunk off the coast of Virginia and used to train divers in rescue operations.

According to the N.H. Department of Transportation permit for the one-way “supermove,” the fuselage and wings were picked up at Pease and driven west, leaving New Hampshire on I-89 going into Vermont.

The permit and specialized route was needed because the tractor-trailer with the fuselage was 94 feet long in total and weighed 87,000 pounds and, at 15 feet wide and 16 feet tall, took up more than one lane. Most of the trip was on major roads but on occasion the fuselage had to go on smaller roads because it was too tall to fit under bridges or toll booths, although apparently it snagged and brought down one telephone wire when traveling through the Concord region.

“The routing with those things are complicated – very, very complicated. You look on Mapquest and it might say 750 miles, but routing could take 1,200, or 2,000 miles,” said Geralds. “The weight usually isn’t a huge issue; it’s the height. We haul things that are a lot heavier than that plane.”

Height concerns are what brought it onto South Main Street at about noon Wednesday, and sent it trundling through Hopkinton to connect with I-89.

The C-130 is a four-engine turboprop created in 1956 for carrying troops and equipment around the world. It is still being produced today, making it what appears to be the longest continuously made military plane in U.S. history.

According to the serial number, this plane was built in 1974 and decommissioned last year. A report by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says it was flown into the Frederick, Maryland, Municipal Airport in September 2019, where its engines and propellers were removed and shipped to an Air Force depot. The wings and stabilizers were taken off and it was driven to nearby Fort Detrick in March, where it was to have been “reassembled and used to test equipment and procedures.”

Between then and November, it came to the civilian airport at Pease. There, a Florida company called Aeroclave performed tests or worked with it, but the company won’t say any more without permission from the military. Aeroclave “was founded in 2003 for the purpose of developing, manufacturing and selling a system capable of decontaminating commercial and military aircraft from pandemic-producing viruses and other disease-causing pathogens,” according to its website.

Geralds of Hurricane Specialized said her company was hauling the plane to Legacy Aerospace in Fletcher, N.C., a company that does repairs, support and service to legacy aircraft, older models that may not be supported by the military itself, for defense contractors and military operators.

A representative of the firm also declined to talk Friday, sending us to the military. So that’s where we stand right now.

We’ll let you know if we learn more.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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