The Hagerstown Aviation Museum in Hagerstown, Maryland has just taken delivery of a Fairchild-Hiller F-27A airliner, an aircraft originally built in 1958 at the now-dormant Fairchild Aircraft factory located at the same airfield as the museum (Hagerstown Regional Airport). Interestingly, the museum’s present home is the old Fairchild Aircraft Flight Test Hangar, dating from 1943!
As many will know, the Fairchild F-27 is actually a license-built version of the Fokker F-27 Friendship, a successful turbo-prop commuter aircraft designed in the Netherlands during the early 1950s. Fairchild-Hiller built just over two hundred examples at their factory in Hagerstown, Maryland. The type enjoyed some success in the U.S. market, with a number of significant regional airlines operating the type.
This particular example first flew in early 1959, the thirty third example off the production line. Butler Aviation (Pepsi Cola Bottling) registered the aircraft as N1004 in April, 1959. It underwent conversion into a freighter (F-27F) soon after in 1961. Ross Aviation of Albuquerque, New Mexico acquired the airframe in 1975. Then in 1980, the U.S. Navy made use of the aircraft as “UC-27A” BuNo.161628, initially basing it at the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Johnsville, Pennsylvania, where it took part in various assignments. During the latter stages of its military career, Imperial Aviation Inc operated it on the Navy’s behalf to support the Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) on Andros Island in the Bahamas. The F-27 closed out its U.S. Navy service in 1988 while flying from the Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent, Maryland.
The legendary Hawkins & Powers (H&P) aerial firefighting operator acquired the F-27 from the Navy in August, 1988, basing it at their home in Greybull, Wyoming and re-registering it as N127HP. H&P leased the aircraft to to various operators overseas, with periods of storage until D&G Incorporated’s acquisition in 2000. The aircraft then passed through a handful of additional owners, but remained at Greybull until withdrawn from use and stored there in 2008.
Circa 2014, the The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting placed it on display at their facility in Greybull, with the Hagerstown Aviation Museum acquiring the airframe as a donation in 2016. While the aircraft was in excellent condition, with a fully-equipped passenger cabin and cockpit, the Hagerstown museum decided against trying to fly the F-27 to its new home, as it had remained idle for too long. This summer, the museum had the opportunity to disassemble the airframe and transport it to Maryland on a flatbed truck through the generosity of several donors. The main fuselage arrived in Hagerstown on July 27th, and is now safely in the museum’s hangar. The wings and center section await delivery on a second shipment, which will hopefully take place sometime soon.
Anyone wishing to help this remarkable museum preserve the important heritage of Fairchild Aviation should click HERE to find out how.