In combat, Phantom 550 could travel at twice the speed of sound.
But this Sunday, this McDonnell Douglas F4D Phantom II will move at a much slower pace as it makes its way to a place of honor in Aviation Heritage Park in Bowling Green, Ky.
“This is a day we’ve long anticipated,” says Carroll Hildreth, President of Aviation Heritage Park. “We’re bringing 550 to her new home.”
Starting at 11:30 pm, September 23, an entourage of police cars and utility vehicles will escort Phantom 550 from its temporary display area at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport to Basil Griffin Park on Three Springs Road. The three-mile trip, via Lovers Lane and Scottsville Road, is expected to take two-and-a-half hours.
Towing the Phantom is a New Holland tractor, provided by Hobdy, Dye and Read, Inc. Since Phantom 550 will be pulled along the route on its own landing gear, the Mach 2 combat aircraft will move at a mere walking pace. During the transit, the primary and adjacent roadways will be closed to other vehicles, but traffic at that time of night is expected to be very light.
The route has been surveyed by the state highway department, as well as county utility and telecommunications representatives for vertical and horizontal clearance. Accompanying 550 is a WRECC bucket truck for utility line safety, and Airport maintenance vehicles to tend to 550’s potential needs during transit.
“We’ve been working on this event for several months,” says Dan Cherry, who piloted Phantom 550 during the Vietnam war, and is now in charge of its final move. “We have had outstanding cooperation from every agency involved. The construction at Aviation Heritage Park is to a point where 550 has to be there to continue. We’re excited!”
“This should be quite a sight”, says Hildreth. “It’s not often a person can watch a ten-ton combat aircraft coming down Scottsville Road. And, as Aviation Heritage Park grows, we’re hoping that this won’t be the last time this happens.”