By Anthony Smigiel
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 5:34 PM; Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 5:37 PM
An engine nacelle of an A-10 Thunderbolt that was hit by a missile in 2003 during the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom was moved from the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base to the Kalamazoo Air Museum on Wednesday, May 24. (Gazette photo by Katie Selden)
PORTAGE, MI – The Air Zoo in Portage is the new home for a unique military artifact.
An engine nacelle from an A-10 Thunderbolt that was damaged by a missile during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 was transported from the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek to the Air Zoo on Wednesday.
An engine nacelle, or cowling, is an enclosure that houses the engine. The 110th Airlift Wing, based in Battle Creek, operated the aircraft when it was damaged.
Maj. Gary "Wolfman" Wolf was piloting the plane on April 8, 2003 when it took off from Kuwait to support troops as they approached Baghdad. The aircraft was providing low-altitude overhead reconnaissance when it was struck in the right engine by an enemy surface-to-air missile, according to a press release.
"Although the initial impact was substantial, the aircraft never departed controlled flight," Wolf said in a press release. "This is a true testament to the combat survivability of the A-10."
Despite extensive damage, Wolf was able to pilot the aircraft 120 miles to safety. The engine and nacelle were replaced and the aircraft was put back into action. The damaged nacelle was flown back to Battle Creek, according to the release.
Ronald Wilson, 110th Vice Commander, led a maintenance team in the restoration efforts and assembly of the cowling for display. "The cowling was destined for the scrap pile," Wilson said. "We had been out of the A-10 business for some time. When I approached our maintenance folks to see if there was any possibility to save this historical piece of our heritage, they jumped right in."
All 10 photos
Please note: I've found this very interesting news article about A-10 80-0258 by trying Google for A-10 just today. Info and photos are very important for the A-10 history books. Over the weekend, I will upload a lot of related pictures and some background info. And by trying Google again, I was totally surprised by the following picture, formerly unknown to me:
A-10 80-0258 lands after being struck by an Iraqi missile during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo by Leigh'77 via Oceanic Wing, released on July 15, 2011, 01:40:44 AM) Full size
Update May 9, 2012:
Damn!!! According to one of the comments (please read it for details), this "landig shot" is part of a computer simulation! And that's the reason why I didn't know this "picture". Last night, I had my own doubts about the "pilot" - so lifeless and not wearing a desert flight suite...