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06 JANUARY 2005

Taxing into Airlift History

The Museum's C-141B and C-124C are pictured in their new home at McChord's Overlook Hill

On January 5, 2005, two of the Museums historic airlifters were moved to their final resting place to a yet to be named Heritage Park on McChord's Overlook Hill. The aircraft, the Museums Douglas C-124C Globemaster and the Lockheed-Georgia  C-141B StarLifter, will be the centerpiece of a more than $700,000 McChord AFB construction project modifying the hill overlooking the bases runway. Overlook Hill has been a long-standing airfield obstruction for the staff of the McChord Tower, reshaping the hill will alleviate the obstruction and at the same time gave the base a great opportunity to redesign the park and incorporate the Museums aircraft. 

Since its arrival of in 1986, The Museum's C-124 has not only been a regular air show attraction at McChord, but has been in constant use by the Base for many base functions. This could have been accomplished if C-124 had not been kept in tip-top condition by a crew of dedicated Museum Volunteers led by the C-124's Crew Chief Chuck Bowen. Both aircraft could have been towed around McChord for many more years, but this would have been done at a risk to the aircraft, as well as the crew or visitors. With the loss of key volunteers and the high expense of replacement parts, parking the aircraft was seen as the best option to keep the aircraft for future visitors. 

Over the last few years, the C-124 and the C-141 have been stored at a tightly controlled area on McChord’s ramp sectioned off for Museum operations. The massive size of both aircraft prevented the Museum from placing the airlifters on display at the current Museum facility. There are currently no plans to move the Museum to a site that could support the Museums entire aircraft collection, any plans for a move are still years away, though potential sites have been evaluated  for a future home for a McChord’s Museum.  

After the Overlook Hill project was given the “green light”, Museum officials turned their attention towards the exterior of the C-141. The “Tacoma StarLifter” was last painted in late 1999, but at that point, was badly in need of a paint scheme that would reflect the airlifters new role at the park. Most felt the “retro” Military Airlift Command (MAC) “white cap" paint scheme worn by most C-141's in the 70's, and 80's would be the best scheme for the display over the European 1 or “StarLizard” camouflage scheme or the current “AMC Gray” color scheme. The “white cap” was the overwhelming choice. 

Much detailed information and knowledge about the "white cap" scheme has been lost over the years. A visit to another whitecap C-141 at its base in Ohio (the "Hanoi Taxi") by the Museums Administrator, MSgt. Ray Jordan, and many hours of research accomplished by Museum Volunteer Ernest White, provided painters with all of the information they would need to paint and accurate representation of 62d MAW C-141 from the 1970's and 1980's. As a  tribute to combined effort from Active and Reserve units on the painting of the "Tacoma StarLifter", McChord Corrosion Control Crews added the Bases Reserve unit designator (446th MAW) on the nose of the C-141 with the traditional active duty designator (62d MAW) exclusively worn on MAC aircraft during  the "white cap" era.

The Overlook Hill/Park project is set for completion in mid 2005 in time for AMC’s Air Mobility Competition being held at McChord, June 19-24.


Like to see the “Old Shakey” and the “Tacoma StarLifters” last journey into full retirement, please return to the online Ripchord where pictures of the move will be posted very soon ! 


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The McChord Air Museum Foundation
P.O. Box 4205
McChord AFB, WA. 98438-0205
e-mail - mamfound@mcchordairmuseum.org