Director Ken Emery said the museum is getting rid of 29 planes and three missiles. He said the museum didn’t have enough personnel to maintain all aircraft after Air Force personnel cuts in 2011 eliminated eight civilian positions at the museum.
He said it marks the first cutback in the museum’s 29-year history, but it’s a matter of preserving quality versus quantity.
Eight planes and one missile are already gone. Others are being disassembled. Some will be scrapped, some sent to private museums and others sent to an Air Force storage facility in Arizona.
Some of the planes have been displayed outside and have deteriorated. Emery said the plane he hates to see go the most is the B-52 Stratofortress, a Cold War icon and one of the largest at the museum. He said the hull has rusted through underneath, and repairing it would be expensive.
“Even if I were to invest a whole lot of money and put it in good condition, it’s still sitting outside,” he said.
Another plane being removed is an EC-135 Stratotanker used by Gov. Norman Schwartzkopf in Desert Storm.
Houston County Commissioner Tom McMichael, a member of the museum board, said the museum had two models of the same plane in some cases, and downsizing is the right move.
Emery said the downsizing will free up space to move other planes indoors that the museum considers more significant, and should put the museum in a position to acquire prized aircraft.