Filled with years of stories from battles, flights and the solitude of retirement, the A-6 Intruder groaned and creaked during its 10-mile journey from the Williamsport Regional Airport to the Lycoming County Veterans Memorial Park.
It’s a move that was over a year in the making and took nearly a week to complete the full transfer. After retirement, the aircraft has sat on the Penn College Aviation Center at the airport.
The transport to the park began Monday morning and was spearheaded by Chris Cromley at High Steel Structures, who worked with Allison Crane and Rigging to determine the best way to lift and carry the plane.
Monday was loading day. Once secured, the plane and truck sat at Savoy Plaza in Montoursville until 9 p.m. Wednesday evening. Even with the wings folded, the plane spanned both lanes of the highway, so moving it required a permit from PennDOT and it had to happen at night.
Surrounded by police cars and tracking vehicles the heavy load slowly creaked out of the Plaza at 9 p.m. getting onto Route 180 at the Fairfield Exit and travelling past the Reach Road exit so it could come into the park from West Fourth Street.
The crane was back on Thursday morning to lift the plane off the truck and place it on the ground at the park. But it’s not done yet. A stand will be built and installed in the spring, which will then be the final resting place for the A-6.
The park’s new addition is the first of its kind to be placed in a memorial park across the nation.
The A-6 Intruder first was introduced during the Vietnam War and was the backbone of the Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet through the Gulf War, eventually being retired in the mid-1990s.
It was owned by Pennsylvania College of Technology before being donated to the park. This particular A-6 flew combat missions during the Gulf War. There are only 38 on display in the nation, according to Don Young, one of the park commissioners who is taking the lead on acquiring the plane.
Each of the remaining planes are either on display on military bases or airports, none at a memorial park.
Getting the aircraft was not a simple task. It required approval from the Pennsylvania Department of General Services so the park could take control of the plane – as it is still a military aircraft.