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C-130 touches down at Fort Lee Load Training Site

Apr 22, 2010

By Rhonda Seward (IMCOM)

FORT LEE, Va. (April 22, 2010) -- Fort Lee moved one step closer to its goal of creating a first-rate, 21st-century training facility for transportation troops April 18 when an actual C-130E fuselage was transported here by truck and placed at the Multi-Mode Load Training Site on the east side of post.

The 97-foot-long aircraft, minus its wings and tail, was maneuvered from its last landing site at Dinwiddie Airport where it was stored for nearly a year. The short trip to Fort Lee took just over 90 minutes and included three of the major interstates in the area.

"The carrier, Greentree Transportation, used a special trailer for the move," explained Col. Tod Mellman, chief base realignment and closure officer for the Joint Transportation School. "Its features included a rear steering mechanism that gave it the ability to navigate areas with limited space."

The challenges of the shipment were many - the height and width of the load being the most obvious. "The overhead clearance on some of the highway overpasses was only six inches," Mellman said. "The width at the wing stubs was 35 feet, and we were able to clear most road signs and other obstacles like trees and poles, but we didn't anticipate the amount of rocking up and down we encountered, so we had to maintain a slower rate of speed."

Several escort vehicles were used during the move. They helped with navigation and removal of obstacles, said Mellman. The Virginia State Police escorted the convoy and provided traffic control, with assistance from the Hopewell and Prince George County Police Departments, along the entire route.

All of these "moving parts" had to be coordinated and carefully synchronized in advance, and Mellman credited the success of the mission to the many technical experts and planners who made it happen.

Upon arrival via Sisisky Gate, the C-130E aircraft reached its final resting place where it will reside alongside actual railroad cars and a C-17 fuselage that's already here but has yet to be placed at the site.

Comparing the addition of the actual aircraft fuselages to the wooden mock-ups previously used, Mellman said it will significantly improve the Multi-Mode Load Training Site at Fort Lee. "We will provide a world-class joint center of excellence facility with the capability of training more than 2,000 transportation management students annually."

After preparing load plans, students will use the facility to validate their work, the colonel continued. They will participate in hands-on deployment operations involving rail and air modes of transportation.

The move cost the Army about $267,000, said Mellman. There was no charge for the plane itself -- like the C-17 fuselage, the C-130E was an in-service transfer between the Air Force and the Army. The C-130E cost $11.9 million when it was built in 1962. By using a pre-existing aircraft that was being taken out of service due to its age, it saved the taxpayers a considerable amount of money while giving transportation troops a more realistic training facility.

Mellman said the C-130 -- along with the C-17 and the three railcars - should be fully operational by Oct. 1 and available for the scheduled classes to train on shortly thereafter.

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