This Old Plane Has a New Mission, Thanks to Science

By Yolanda R. Arrington
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

170403-F-LS255-0133 Airmen from the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group remove the wings and tail from a C-130 aircraft at the Hill Aerospace Museum, April 3. Once work is complete, the C-130 will serve as an interactive classroom at the museum’s Lt. Gen. Marc C. Reynolds Aerospace Center for Education (Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

The military has found a new use for an old aircraft. Once versatile in the air, one C-130 aircraft is proving just how many uses it has on land. The Hill Aerospace Museum and Aerospace Heritage Foundations plan to use the old aircraft as an interactive science, technology, engineering and mathematics classroom. It’s a new way to show students just how fun STEM can be and another example of the Air Force’s work to make STEM learning fun.

The aircraft will be connected to the museum after it is stripped, refurbished and fitted with proper heat and ventilation systems. Once complete, it will become a permanent fixture of the Lt. Gen. Marc C. Reynolds Aerospace Center for Education. The C-130 will be the museum’s fifth interactive classroom, allowing visitors to get to see the inside of an airplane.

“The project will be completed in three phases,” Hill Air Force Base’s museum director Aaron Clark told 75th Air Base Wing public affairs. “Step one was to put new tires on the aircraft, then relocate it from the storage grounds behind the museum to a staging area for disassembly and preparation. Step two will be the removal of the wings and tail, then the remaining aircraft fuselage will be sealed. The third phase will be moving it to the final permanent location foundation structure, where it will be affixed to the side of the building, via breezeway, just outside the recently opened General Reynolds training facility.”

170420-F-LS255-0013The educational staff at the Hill AFB Museum stand inside the C-130 cockpit. From left to right: Mark Standing, Director of Education through the Aerospace Heritage Foundation; Kelsey Arnold, Administrative Assistant, Aerospace Heritage Foundation; Leslie Peterson, Director of Education through the U.S.Air Force Hill Air Force Base Museum (Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Mark Standing, the museum’s education specialist, is preparing lessons for the students to have a truly memorable experience.

“I’ve been writing curriculum to help support the teachers with the core curriculum they have to do. I’ve taught for 35 years in the classroom, so I totally get this. The children will get to have firsthand experiences with things they would otherwise watch on TV,” Standing said.

Standing expects to hold scientific competitions inside the aircraft, which will hold about 35 people at a time. He’s looking forward to actually showing students how science works, rather than having them simply read about it.

“It’s a really intense learning environment and the things we talk about are so critical to their understanding. Most children, they just hear about it. And children at this age (kindergarten through Grade 6) are concrete learners. This way, they can feel it. They can see it. They’re living it,” Standing said.

The lessons will tie into the work being done at the base.

“We can teach the students about pressurized cabins and why we need that to be able to fly,” he added. “We can also talk about atmosphere, electricity and magnetism — all of the stuff that ties into what makes the planes work.”

Teachers will be able to pull from a menu of classes and bring their students in for specific lessons. The museum also offers scholarships to students who work there for a certain number of hours.

The C-130 is expected to open as a classroom later this year.

“I’m really excited for this to happen,” Standing added. “It is going to be so cool!”

RELATED LINKS: C-130 to get second life at Hill museum
Air Force Makes STEM Learning Exciting for Kids
Budding Scientists Connect with DoD Pros during STEM Week

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