Restored WWII plane headed for rescue missions

Restored WWII plane headed for rescue missions

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:12 pm
By: AP

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tooie will soon have a new mission in life. The 1945 C-47 World War II plane is being restored and, once it meets FAA requirements, owner Charlie Walker plans to put the aircraft to use at his nonprofit Indiana Air Search and Rescue. Tooie currently has chipped paint, broken windows and loose wires hanging down everywhere. But, Walker, an Indianapolis jeweler, sees potential. He spent Saturday with a handful of men taking the plane apart next door to Nashville International Airport and loading it onto a 16-wheel trailer. “She’s a diamond in the rough, ready to be polished,” Walker said. “This is history of America right here and deserves to be taken care of. We’re a group of people that care about the history of our country and we also want to help others.” Tooie weighs about 18,000 pounds and may look familiar to some. The plane served as an attraction at Nashville’s 101st Airborne Restaurant for years until it closed a couple of years ago. Walker said the local airport authority donated Tooie to him. The plane will be transported to Thomaston, Ga., to Mark McSwiggan’s shop, a homecoming of sorts. McSwiggan’s family used to run a freight plane charter business. They bought Tooie 30 years ago from the FAA when the model was phased out, he said. McSwiggan’s father then sold it to the Nashville restaurant for display. Now, the plane will return to the family for at least a two-year makeover job. “I’m tickled to do it again, it’s kind of a cycle,” said McSwiggan, who was in charge of the Saturday project. The plane’s engines will be replaced, as will the wiring and other equipment. When Tooie is fixed, it may be worth some $200,000, he said. “But it’s not about the money for us,” Walker said. “It will fly like a new plane and will actually help save lives again.” Published in The Messenger 7.16.08

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