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Gone with the wings: C-5 removal process in full swing

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNEWS) -- The wings of the C-5 aircraft that landed short of the runway April 3, 2006 were removed Jan. 17 by an Ohio-based contractor.

Using giant mobile shears, InterGroup International, a company that buys, reprocesses and sells post-industrial scrap, chopped the wings off the remaining C-5 shell from the site of the mishap.

"We're very excited to finally remove the C-5," said Lt. Col. Mark Ruse, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, before the wing removal took place.

Prior to cutting the wings off the aircraft, the contractor prepared the site for demolition and cleaned the interior of the aircraft of any contaminants and waste, including all insulation, plastics, tubing and wiring. Over the course of the next week, the rest of the aircraft will be dismantled.

The colonel also noted the base's continued contact with Delaware state environmental agencies, and confirmed that no contamination has left Air Force property.

Once the entire aircraft has been removed from the site, the base will do a full assessment in close coordination with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls to determine what type of remediation methods will be used for the cleanup.

It took approximately 30 minutes for the mobile shears to remove the wings - a process that resembled something animal-like, as the shears chewed through each giant wing until they fell to the ground.

Neil Gloger, InterGroup International site manager, explained that the wings and the remainder of the aircraft will be cut into three-by-four-feet sections, then melted and recycled.

The scrap will be processed locally and then sent to a secondary location to be melted, said Mr. Gloger. The recycled scrap metal will be used for general products.

The scrap value of the remaining aircraft is estimated at $60,000 to $80,000, Mr. Gloger explained.

Along with two InterGroup International employees, six local laborers are working on the removal of the aircraft, which should be completed by Jan. 24.

The removal process has taken so long, said Colonel Ruse, due to a combination of events, including the extensive investigation after the mishap, the period of time it took the Air Force to salvage the reusable parts, the lengthy process of awarding this contract and the holidays.

However, this is not the first of the aircraft to be recycled. In April, the crew compartment was removed from the fuselage by power saws and in August, it was transported to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., where it will be used as a modernized C-5 software simulator.

All 17 people aboard the aircraft survived and in June an Accident Investigation Board determined that the mishap was caused by pilot error.

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