Daily Egyptian

Donated plane wings into SIUC

By Gus Bode

Displaying the emblem and the colors of SIUC, ferry flight number 9155 soared across the open sky in its final flight Wednesday before landing on the runway of the Southern Illinois Airport at 4:06 p.m.

A donation from United Airlines, the Boeing 727-222 airliner completed a non-stop flight from Amarillo, Texas, to the runway of the airport.

The plane, retired on Dec. 2, 1998, was granted a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration for the ferry flight, a special permit to fly a retired commercial airplane without passengers.

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Graciously received by the SIUC Aviation Department, plane number 9609 completed two fly-by’s around the airport traffic control tower before putting down its landing gear and breaking to a stop after its final landing.

Elaine Vitello, dean for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, said the flight and donation commemorate a long-lasting fellowship between SIUC and United Airlines.

This partnership is not just something that has happened overnight, she said.

I think it is built on the quality of our programs which have nurtured our relationship because we prepare students for all aspects of the aviation industry.

And just like top-quality students get scholarships, top-quality programs get donations such as this.

The plane will be utilized as a laboratory setting for students in aviation flight, management and technologies. The plane also will be a promotional device for the college and serve as a static display for the University.

For the avionics side, since it’s going to be plane that will have just about everything, they will actually be able to see the electronic equipment in place and how literally they can watch it work as they work on it, Vitello said.

I think this is what makes it such an unbelievable teaching laboratory. You get the full effect.

The 737-222 is the second aircraft to be donated to SIUC from United Airlines. The first donation of an airliner was a Viscount received in January 1969. The Viscount, a British make, was used as a laboratory tool until it was scrapped in 1989.

Eileen Younglove, contributions manager for United Airlines, said a plane typically is sold after retirement. She said a donation of this magnitude is rare for the airline, and she is proud to be involved in the process.

We have a long-standing relationship with SIUC, Younglove said.

We have made donations to schools before, but things of that sort are very unique. We knew through this donation that we could help to further careers and education for the aviation students of SIUC.

After the plane has been decertified from further flight operations, it will be displayed in front of the aviation terminal for public viewing and then tugged to the Aviation Technology Hangar for temporary placement.

David NewMyer, associate professor and chairperson for aviation management and flight, said the donation is an incredible tool for his students, but the placement of the plane has been a large concern for the department.

It will go right in the main hangar bay, but the tail won’t fit. So we are trying to figure out a way to protect the tail so it won’t be susceptible to the outdoors, NewMeyer said.

But as far as we are concerned this is a great donation because of its use to the students. We are talking about at the very least a million-dollar donation.

Bill Norwood, SIU trustee and former captain for United Airlines, said the efforts between the University and United have created a strong link for the institutions.

I think the people from SIU and United have worked very hard to establish this kind of relationship, Norwood said.

This is all a very wonderful thing, and we are indebted to United for such a donation.

The 737-222 is the last of the United Airlines 200 series. This plane was the seventh to be delivered to United and the 24th 737 ever built by Boeing.

Factoid:A reception ceremony for the unveiling of the plane will be at 2 p.m. Friday at the Southern Illinois Airport. The ceremony will be dedicated to the SIUC alumni who are or were employees of United.

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