Updated: Jul 3, 2019
By Jasmine Willis
GENESEO — The Geneseo Warplane Museum will have their first ever Vietnam War Plane on display in the near future.
The C-130A aircraft is one of the last planes out of Saigon during the Vietnam War, and has an interesting history regarding her harrowing escape. This historic treasure was piloted by Kheim Pham, a South Vietnamese pilot currently living in Ohio. He was imprisoned for temporarily diverting the plane to pick up relatives and evacuating them. This C-130A is a gift from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The aircraft has been on display for nearly 30 years at the Dulles International Airport.
The plan is the have the historic warplane restored, painted with the proper American and South Vietnamese colors, and on display for the July 12 Geneseo Air Show kick-off event.
Although, some of the plane has been transported to the museum there is still a need for the fuselage to be sent over.
Once the museum knew they were awarded this plane they reached out to the legions and VFWs for help and donations. The overall cost of the project is over $200,000 with dismantle, transport, reassemble, and restoration of the plane. A special permit is needed for transport of the fuselage, but otherwise the rest has taken about a month to be transported to the museum.
Wayland American Legion made a donation for the Vietnam War Plane on July 2. Mark mentioned the legion plans on doing a raffle on Sept. 1 at noon at with four tickets to ride the famous WWII aircraft Whiskey 7.
“We have an American Patriot Quilt to raffle, and the National Warplane Museum has given us four tickets to raffle for rides on the Whiskey 7, plus we have a gift card for $250 from Steuben Landscaping to raffle,” Mark said. “They will be able to take the rides on the Whiskey 7 at their own convenience. It is not set for any certain timeframe.”
Tickets for the raffle are being sold at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, Wayland American Legion, and Steuben Landscaping and Floral Center. They are $5 a piece.
“I had just been talking to someone about Vietnam War, and I got the whole store about the Vietnam War Plane in the mail. They needed help with this transport, and we needed to bring more to our raffle. We are all helping each other out,” Mark said. “The reason we do what we do is to help preserve history. It is vital to grab hold of these planes now.”
National Warplane Museum Spokesman, Dave Cooper said the C-130A will help to expand the museum and be a great addition to the warplanes they have on display there.
“This is really important to us. It is the first time we have ever had a Vietnam War aircraft at this museum. It is the last plane to have escaped Saigon during the Vietnam War. The pilot who flew the plane is still alive, and we hope to bring him down once we have it on display,” he said. “It is always our mission to preserve history. They took apart of the aircraft and sent it up to us within about a month. We are just waiting on the fuselage now. We are all really excited about this.”
Cooper added upcoming information about the Geneseo Airshow 2019: The Greatest Show on Turf. There are several new and exciting things to look forward to this year.
“We are going to do a mock battle for the first time of the Invasion of Normandy. We will have paratroopers in authentic gear jumping out of four C-47s, and reenactors in German uniforms on the ground ready to fight them,” he said. “This will be done on Saturday and Sunday only. We are also for the first time since the early 90s having the US Air Force do a A10 Thunderbolt II demonstration.”
Other interesting events include a grand display from US Air Force Headquarters of two simulation trailers with pilots, special ops, and mechanics; an F-16 Fighting Felcon, International National Guard display, two B51 Mustangs, Antique, classic, hot-rods, and more for Wings and Wheels Car Cruise Saturday and Sunday.
Among the C-47s being jumped out of for the mock battle is Whiskey 7 and Virginia Ann.
The Movie Memphis Belle will be at the Geneseo Air Show soaring high in the sky.
There will be over 30 military vehicles, over 70 planes, over 150 authentic reenactors from all different war eras, food vendors, and a whole variety of nice events for the family.
There will be a National Warplane Museum Swing Dance in the Hanger on July 13 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. The Southern Tier All Star Jazz Band will perform, and reenactors will be on the dance floor.
Tickets for the Geneseo Air Show July 12 are $15 at the gate only. For July 13 and 14 sold presale at Wegmans and National Warplane Museum for $20 and at the gate $25. The gates open at 9 a.m. In order to assure you see the mock battles arrive shortly after that. These events are not timed, as they are performed by many reenactors at once.