YC-141 - 1st 141 to be Stretched

YC-141B -- 660186   1st Stretched C-141
Marietta GA C-141


The History of the 60186 Coming Back Alive


MARIETTA — Monday morning’s delivery of four massive engines to Lockheed Martin’s Aviation Wing in Marietta marked the beginning of the end of a more than 12-year passion project for Bill Paden, a retired Lockheed engineer.

The Aviation Wing is a 15.5-acre tract of land at the corner of Atlanta Road and South Cobb Drive near Dobbins Air Reserve Base, where members of the public can see and enter different kinds of military aircraft.

Paden, 83, and other volunteers, who in their retirement have been restoring a C-141B military transport plane, waited eagerly for the delivery at the open parking lot lined with fighter jets, gliders and gunships revived from Lockheed Martin’s boneyard.

As he looked around at the Aviation Wing’s assortment of planes, Paden reminisced about his 41 years at Lockheed and pointed to various former employees, mechanics, Air Force pilots and Marine Corps veterans who followed or assisted in the restoration project.

Paden served as Lockheed’s chief engineer near the end of C-141 production and said the Aviation Wing’s restoration project began in the mid-2000s, years after his retirement in late 1998, when he remembered that he had a letter showing Lockheed’s ownership of a retired YC-141B — the “Y” indicates the plane was a prototype.

C-141Bs were a stretched version of the C-141As, which began production in the early ’60s, Paden said. The C-141Bs, which were first produced in the late ’70s, were 23.3 feet longer than their predecessors.

The Marietta YC-141B had been slated for disposal in the mid-’90s, after cracks were discovered in its wings, Paden said. He said engineers and mechanics at Lockheed decided the plane wasn’t worth fixing, given its remaining life expectancy, so it sat on the Smyrna side of the Lockheed runway for about a decade.

“It sat down in the junkyard for about 10 or 15 years, and I remembered it and found that letter I’d taken when I retired. And I said, ‘Hey, Lockheed. I think you own this airplane based on this letter, and I think you can give it to the museum,” he said. “And they said, ‘Yeah we do, and yeah we will.’”

But that was just the plane’s fuselage, and it was in rough shape, Paden said. The inside had been stripped of electronics, panels and any other parts that could be used for active members of the fleet. The crew of volunteers would have to gather various parts of the plane from across the country and rebuild other parts including the right wing, a two-year project.

Boone Barnes, a former Air Force C-141 navigator, has coordinated the delivery of parts for the aircraft’s restoration. Barnes said he was one of the volunteers who previously traveled to Illinois to gather pieces of the plane’s wings. The transport of the plane’s four engines was the third such trip.

Barnes said the YC-141B’s restoration has been both a community and nationwide effort. The project’s price tag, around $25,000 to $30,000, could have been much higher had many of the participating volunteers, companies and organizations not provided free labor, equipment and other assistance.

During every trip to the Illinois airport, where pieces of a C-141B would need to be taken off another of the retired planes, Barnes said a group of the state’s National Guard from a nearby base provided labor and equipment to assist.

“Without them, this would have been a very, very difficult project,” he said.

Crane operators and Mariettans with trailers also gave their time, and donations to a Facebook page created to fund the restoration came in from all over the country, he said.

Barnes, who hand-painted the lettering on the 77.5-ton aircraft’s body, said the widespread support of the project is a sign of the camaraderie of the men who flew and worked on the planes.

Frank Hadden was a test pilot for Lockheed and flew the YC-141B fuselage that sits on the pavement at the Aviation Wing in the late ’70s. Hadden, 86, said he’d been monitoring the restoration project’s progress through the years.

 “Right now, it looks like the world’s biggest glider, but pretty soon it’ll look like a real airplane,” Hadden said as he awaited the first tractor-trailer’s delivery of two engines. “I’m glad to see it come back to life here where people can come look at it and enjoy it and (see) the history of it, because it is part of the history of the Air Force and part of Lockheed too. It’s great to have it here.”

Thousands of people who used to work at Lockheed love to come visit the Aviation Wing, and the YC-141B has only made the Marietta history destination more popular, according to Brad Hawkins, the Aviation Wing’s director.

Only about a dozen of the 285 of C-141Bs produced remain in museums around the country, and now Marietta has one of them, he said.

Hawkins, who took over as director in January, said he’s felt like “a 12-year-old kid” in his role.

“I’m playing with airplanes, and I’m around the veterans who are out here, so it’s a pleasure and an honor to work with these guys. Its inspiring to see the work that they’re willing to do on 85- or 90-degree days,” Hawkins said. “It’s remarkable the passion our unpaid staff pours into this work.”

The volunteers estimate that installation of the four engines will take until the spring to complete, and the plane will still need some cleaning up and patching before work is completely done.

But Hawkins said, even as it sits now, the prototype C-141B is a centerpiece of Lockheed history in Marietta.

“It’s huge for the community,” he said. “Aviation is central to the building of Marietta and Cobb County, so to have one of the aircraft that has been taken from the graveyard, essentially, and brought back to its duty status is just a beautiful thing to see.”

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

C-141B Quick Facts

  • Wing span: 160 feet
  • Length: 168 feet, four inches
  • Height: 39 feet, seven inches
  • Empty weight: 144,492 pounds
  • Max weight: 344,900 pounds
  • Max speed: 567 mph at sea level
  • Top altitude: 41,000 feet


A group of dedicated volunteers spent the month of October restoring and affixing newly acquired wing parts to the C-141B “Starlifter” at the Marietta Museum of History’s Aviation Wing. Visitors can now see the military strategic airlifter almost completely intact.

The museum acquired the C-141B fuselage from Lockheed Martin in 2007. A year later, the museum received the wings, removed in the mid-1990s for engineering testing, as a donation from the United States Air Force.

It took a year and a half to rebuild the wings, one of which had been badly damaged during testing. But pieces of the puzzle were still missing.

When Lockheed detached the wings for testing, they removed any parts that could be used as spares for active planes. To complete renovation, the museum still needed some 75 wing pieces. The question was where to find them?

Once retired in 2006, the C-141s were taken to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, and scrapped. By the time the local museum was fully accredited in 2011, there was no surplus of parts for the museum to pull from.

“The only C-141s left in the world were those in a few of the Air Force museums around the country,” Bill Paden, head of the C-141 restoration project, told the Marietta Daily Journal. “Since they were already in use, they weren’t going to give us any of the parts off of them.”

In 2013, Paden learned that the Air Force was preparing to transfer a C-141 to the Federal Aviation Administration to be contracted out for firefighter training. He contacted the contractor, who, with permission from the FAA, agreed to hand over the wing parts the museum needed.

That was the easy part. It took another four years of working closely with the Georgia Department of Administrative Services’ surplus property division to get the museum’s request for the parts approved.

This October, the museum sent a crew to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois to pick up the wing tips and leading edges. With help from the Illinois Air National Guard, they were able to disassemble the parts from the C-141 on the base and bring them back to Marietta.

Still to come are the wing flaps, ailerons and engines. Paden hopes to have the wings completed by this time next year.


 Designed as a global troop and cargo carrier, the C-141 first took to the sky in December of 1963. The planes entered service roughly two years later, hauling troops, equipment and supplies to Vietnam.

With its high speed, yawning cargo bay, impressive payload and ability to perform low-altitude airdrops, the C-141A proved invaluable during wartime.

After a number of years in service, however, the Air Force discovered that the planes were being underutilized. Speaking figuratively, he explained that the payloads carried by the plane were well short of the capacity it was engineered to carry. “They were meant to carry lead but they ended up carrying pingpong balls,” explained Paden, who helped design the C-141. “So it was full of pingpong balls and could carry another million, but there was nowhere to put them.”

So they made the crafts bigger. From 1978 to the early 1980s, 270 of the 285 C-141As produced were brought back to the factory to have the fuselage lengthened by 23 feet, 4 inches. Aerial refueling capability was also added. This new configuration, dubbed the C-141B, increased the cargo capacity by more than 2,000 cubic feet and allowed for lengthened non-stop flights.

The C-141 on display at the Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History is the C-141B prototype. It’s one of the few remaining C-141s that’s completely open to the public.


Bio Box

About the Aviation Wing

A 15½-acre outdoor park on South Cobb Drive, the Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with guided tours available. On display are a C-141B, a Vietnam-era AC-130A gunship and a Korean War-era F-84F Thunderstreak fighter bomber.

Over the summer, two episodes of “MacGyver,” the reboot of the original ABC series, were filmed aboard the museum’s C-141B. The plane also makes a cameo in the upcoming “Pitch Perfect 3,” in theaters in December.

Admission is a suggested $5 donation per vehicle for parking. Contributions are paramount to the Aviation Wing as they are its main source of income.


EDITORIAL: Volunteers are the wind beneath Aviation Wing

Against all odds, the Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History has taken flight.


Marietta Museum of History
1 Depot St NE, Ste 200, Marietta, GA 30060-1900

I visited the Marietta (GA ) Aviation Museum on 21 Mar 13.
This museum is located next to the Lockheed aircraft plant.
C-141B -- 660186 is on display.


I also visited the Marietta Information Center. They ladies working there were fantastic.
Extremely friendly and helpful.

The Marietta History museum was also awesome and is a must to see.
The aritifacts on display were superb. Highly recommend checking out their military section.

These places were outstanding and worth your time seeing these outstanding museums.