On Friday afternoon, I decided to take a spin across part of PA’s Route 443. It’s a nice mix of curves, forests, farms etc., …. and it also happens to pass straight through The National Guard Training Center at Fort Indiantown Gap.
I knew that the museum located at “The Gap” (as locals often refer to it) is open to the public on Mondays and Fridays, so I decided to check it out. As it turned out, the museum was closed for a private function yesterday. Luckily there are a number of outdoor exhibits. The biggest item on display was the giant “Commando Solo”. See the plane’s specs beneath the picture below.
There is also an accompanying outdoor push-button speaker through which visitors can hear the propaganda messages that the plane routinely broadcast. To be completely honest, the audio verges on being creepy; but I suppose it was effective. Click here to see the text of the placard that accompanies the audio display (I apologize for the poor quality of the image – but I had to hold the camera over my head to take the picture 🙂 )
“Bruiser The Cruiser” and the EC-130E
from the placard:
Flown exclusively by the Airmen of the 193rd Special Operations Wing, in Middletown, PA, the EC-130E is a one-of-a-kind aircraft in many ways. Conducting the military’s only airborne psychological operations mission, this aircraft and her crew acted in times of peace and war as a flying broadcast studio by sending messages on standard radio and television frequencies.
Beginning its service in 1963 and delivered to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in 1979, this aircraft served as a faithful workhorse in carrying out its unique mission for over three decades. Its last operational sortie in January 2006 followed service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Its final flight brought it to Muir Army Airfield in August of 2006 (the largest aircraft to ever land at Fort Indiantown Gap at the time).
Affectionately nicknamed “Triple Cripple” by the airmen who worked on Aircraft No. 7773, it is remarkably the only remaining example of its kind.
Crew: Four Officers, Eight Enlisted
Cruising Speed: 299 mph
Max Speed: 374 mph
Ceiling: 20,000 feet
Length: 100.50 feet Height: 38.50 feet Wingspan 132.60 feet
* this aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force to the Pennsylvania National Guard.