Purdue News

July 28, 2006

Aging plane to be demolished at Purdue Airport

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A 1960s-era airplane donated to Purdue 13 years ago will undergo a noisy process of deconstruction at the Purdue Airport beginning July 31.

Demolishing a 1960s-era
Boeing 727

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caption below

Purdue Airport director Betty Stansbury said large knives, called shearers, will cut the Boeing 727 into chunks, then shred it into smaller pieces that can be hauled away and melted for recycling. The process could take up to 10 days.

"It's quite unusual for a plane to be destroyed in Indiana," Stansbury said. "Old planes are usually flown out to disposal sites in California or Arizona, but since this aircraft was not flyable and it would cost too much to repair it, it was much more cost-efficient to destroy it here."

The plane will be demolished between hangars 1 and 2, just east of the main terminal building. Journalists are invited to view the process from a designated area, but the public is not encouraged to attend since no public viewing or access locations are being provided.

"We don't usually have a lot of people in that area, but occasionally we do have people who bring their children out to watch planes take off," she said. "We just wanted to make the public aware that this will be happening because it can be quite dirty and noisy."

Stansbury said the demolition will take place during daylight hours, and the area around the worksite will be secured with a fence to prevent people from entering.

The airplane was donated to Purdue by United Airlines. It has never been flown since its time at Purdue, instead being used as a training station for aviation technology students, said Raymond Thompson, associate professor and associate department head of the aviation technology department in the College of Technology.

"The plane has gotten a lot of use by students in all three of our programs — flight, aeronautical technology and aviation management," Thompson said. "The controls are still operational, but it's in need of more maintenance than we can reasonably provide."

He said students in the flight program used the plane to practice operating the controls. Aeronautical technology students worked to maintain the plane, and those in aviation management benefited from the plane because it familiarized them with the basics of operating an aircraft.

Oscar Winski Inc., a Lafayette-based recycling firm, has been contracted to dismantle the plane.

Purdue also has a 1970s-era Boeing 737 that was donated by United Airlines that is used as an on-ground training station.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu

Sources: Betty Stansbury, (765) 743-3442, bmstansbury@purdue.edu

Raymond Thompson, (765) 494-9965, ret@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Journalists can view the plane being dismantled at the airport. Contact Kim Medaris, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu, or Betty Stansbury, Purdue Airport director, (765) 743-3442, bmstansbury@purdue.edu, for more information or to schedule coverage.


Workers from Oscar Winski Inc. use a shearer to demolish a 1960s-era Boeing 727 on Monday (July 31, 2006) at the Purdue Airport in West Lafayette, Ind. The plane will be cut into chunks, then shred into smaller pieces that can be hauled away and melted for recycling. The airplane, donated to Purdue 13 years ago, had been used as an on-ground training station for students. Airport director Betty Stansbury said it is unusual for a plane to be demolished in Indiana. Planes are usually flown to the deserts of California or Arizona to be demolished, but the Purdue plane was not in flying condition. The university also has a 1970s-era Boeing 737 donated by United Airlines that is used for on-ground training. (Photo by Dave Umberger/Purdue News Service)


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