[Update Dec. 2002: The State Dept. got this plane.]
As many of you know, there is an OV-10D parked on the ramp of Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. What most of you do not know is the OBA has been working for over three years to acquire that airplane. The time has come for us to go public, to ask for your help.
So, get comfortable while I brief you on what has been going on behind the scenes.
| 155465 is the last unmodified and flyable OV-10D in existence. Photo courtesy Drew Radford. |
On October 16, 1968 in Columbus, Ohio, North American Aviation delivered an OV-10A Bronco, Bureau Number 155465, to the Department of the Navy for service in the United States Marine Corps. This was only one of nearly 400 OV-10's that would eventually be built from 1965 to 1975. It commenced active service with Marine Observation Squadron One, VMO-1, at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. Throughout the Vietnam War and for a total of 12 years, #465 was stationed in North Carolina training pilots to become Tactical Air Controllers (Airborne) or TAC(A)'s, and supporting operations of the First Marine Air Wing.
On June 20th of 1980, #465 was reassigned to Marine Observation Squadron Four (Reserve), VMO-4, at Naval Air Station Atlanta, Georgia where it supported operations of Fourth Marine Air Wing, much as it had with VMO-1. On September 9th of 1981 #465 was sent to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico for special weapons testing. It remained in New Mexico for over a year when it was reassigned for duty at the Naval Air Test Center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. It was utilized there in a research and development, test and evaluation role. It arrived in Maryland on December 14th, 1982 and remained there for almost two years. Like many veterans, #465 was again transferred on July 3rd, 1984. This time #465 was attached to the Navy Fixed Wing Experimental Squadron Five, VX-5, at Naval Air Station China Lake, California.
In 1990, #465 returned to VMO-1. When VMO-1 went to war in the Middle East Gulf War, #465 went too, seeing combat in operation Desert Storm. At the end of hostilities it returned to the United States and was transferred to Atlanta and VMO-4 where it was converted to the "D+" or "long nose" model.
After 25 years of active service in 1993, #465 was transferred to the State of Washington, Department of Transportation and given a civilian registration number of N80AD. It was to be used for SAR and fire fighting missions much as the California Department of forestry uses them. However, for the last four years #465 has sat idle and unflyable on the ramp at Boeing Field. Today, this last unmodified, flyable example of an OV-10D+, looks much like it did when it helped liberate the people of Kuwait, including its camouflage livery. This once proud warrior and symbol of freedom and dedication sits idle, mostly out of public view, wasting away.
Considering its heritage, service, condition and status, #465 can arguably be called a "National Treasure." It deserves to be displayed and preserved as a memorial to the tens of thousands of men and women, from Washington and all across the United States, who served in OV-10 units and the 59 crewmen who gave their lives protecting the freedom of so many from Vietnam to Desert Storm. #465 should be available to future generations to see and teach first hand the roles their fathers, brothers, mother and sisters played in protecting freedom and serving their country.
For over three years, member of the OBA and Washington residents, Ashby Shoop, Dick Wood, Jim Carlton and Kurt Mason, have played various roles in tracking down information and assisting the OBA to approach members of the State of Washington regarding the fate of #465. During that period of time we have spoken and visited with numerous people regarding the fate of the airplane since its grounding. We have even conducted negotiations with members of the Transportation Department to acquire the aircraft. We have received the support of the Boeing Corporation and the Museum of Flight. But, for one reason or another none of these efforts have gained the release of #465.
Without going into a lot of detail I can tell you this. Money has not been the issue. Not that we have a lot, but if the State of Washington wished to sell the airplane it would go to the highest bidder and we would certainly be out of the running. Many government agencies and other countries are interested in #465. But things have changed within the State of Washington. The Department of Transportation has a new director and he has directed the department to divest itself of ALL aviation assets, including #465. In fact, they are considering giving it back to the US government. If that were to happen, I can assure you #465 would go straight to the State Department for modification to an armored spray aircraft for use in South America and the last unmodified OV-10D+ would be lost to all of us and the world. Or worse, it would be sent to the bone yard to await an uncertain fate with 13 other OV-10D's.
Although we did not see this turn of events coming, several months ago we, OBA, decided to change tactics and approach legislators for support in preserving the aircraft. After a lot of sleuthing, we turned up a couple of Senators with military backgrounds who were at least willing to listen to us. We asked these individuals is to sponsor a request for a direct donation of #465 to the OBA or other bona fide museum so that it will be preserved. Our FIRST priority is that #465 be preserved as is in it's original configuration, war paint and all. We have offered to be #465's next caretaker if that would be possible, but preservation is the first consideration.
During a recent visit to Olympia, one of the Senators asked what presence the OBA had in the State of Washington. He was told that we had several members living in or from Washington and that if required, we could establish something more substantial. To that end, we have established the Washington Squadron of the OBA.
As I mentioned earlier, if this goes to a bidding war, we all lose because either our government will step in or some other foreign government will get the airplane. The State of Washington has the ability and authority to donate or loan the airplane to the OBA for safe keeping and preservation.
The last we heard, #465 was going to be returned to the US government. This doesn't have to happen. #465 should be preserved as part of your heritage for future generation. We were instrumental in preserving #626, now proudly on display at Hurlburt AFB. OBA also played a role in the preservation of #472 at the Carolina Museum of Aviation. Now, we, the OV-10 community, need to rally to preserve and protect this last, pristine example of an OV-10D+.
Please help any way you can. Also, just so we know what is happening, please copy us on any correspondence you may have about this issue. Your point of contact in Washington for the OBA is Ashby Shoop, the Washington Squadron leader. Ashby.Shoop@F22.Boeing.com You may also contact OBA Vice President Tom Kemp at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't delay, we may be running out of time. Help "Save A Plane."
Thanks for your support,
Jim Hodgson (email@example.com)
OBA Vice President