Vintage Planes Shipment to Open Erie Canal Saturday, April 28
Canal System to Open Ahead of Schedule for 188th Season
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that barges hauling three vintage aircraft bound for a museum near Schenectady will be the first vessels to enter the Erie Canal at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 28, 2012, when the New York State Canal system opens ahead of schedule.
"The Erie Canal continues to make history," Governor Cuomo said. "Within seven months of unprecedented damage because of record floods, New York's Canal system is up and running for the 188th consecutive navigation season. Today this historic waterway remains the preferred route for the transport of these treasured warplanes."
The three planes – a MiG-15, a Douglas F-3D Skynight, and a Supermarine Scimitar – were loaded onto a barge in Manhattan on April 18 for transport via the Hudson River – and ultimately the Erie Canal – to a new home at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville, N.Y.
The three retired jet aircraft were removed from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan to make room for the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
The early opening also applies to the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and the Oswego Canal. The Champlain Canal will open on April 29, 2012.
Canal Director Brian U. Stratton said: "We invite fans of both aviation and canal travel to join us at Lock 2 in Waterford at 10 a.m. on Saturday to watch the world's smallest aircraft carrier begin its journey on the Erie Canal.
"This shipment demonstrates the continued viability of the New York Canal system as a viable option for commercial transport. The Canal system contributes up to an estimated $380 million annually in tourism benefits along to the economy of upstate New York."
Kevin Millington, a member of the board of trustees of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum, said, "The acquisition of these three legendary historic aircraft by the Empire State Aerosciences Museum will be a tremendous resource to be shared with the public, and boosts our great museum as one of the foremost cultural resources in the state.
"These acquisitions are also a wonderful testament to the value of partnerships. This would not have been possible without the tremendous help we've received from the New York State Canal Corporation, the Port of Albany, the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum, and so many others. The journey of these aircraft through the Erie Canal in Waterford makes this even more special."
"The Office of General Services is thrilled to have played a part in bringing the Skynight plane back to Schenectady through the OGS-administered federal surplus property program," said OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito. "This is an excellent example of how state government agencies can work together to benefit the people of New York. I know that many children and aircraft enthusiasts will enjoy seeing this new addition to the Empire State Aerosciences Museum."
The planes will travel about 20 miles by barge from Lock 2 to the boat launch on Freeman's Bridge Road in Glenville (near the Waters Edge Lighthouse Restaurant). Then they will travel about 1.5 miles by road on Route 50 to the Aerosciences Museum, adjacent to the Schenectady County Airport.
For the public, best viewing of the planes aboard the barges will be at the Waterford Flight (Locks 2 through 6) during mid-morning and at Lock 7 in Niskayuna at approximately 1 p.m., Saturday, April 28. The best viewing of the unloading of the planes from the barge will be from the Freeman's Bridge Road boat launch in Glenville on Saturday, April 28.
Barge transportation is provided by Donjon Marine from the Port of Albany. In addition to the Canal Corporation, other state agencies that assisted the move were the Office of General Services and the Department of Transportation.
The single-engine MiG-15 entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1949, and is considered the first successful Soviet jet fighter. It had a maximum speed of 668 mph, and featured three cannon.
The twin-engine Douglas F-3D Skynight entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1952, and – equipped with one of the first airborne search radars – achieved some success during the Korean War as a night fighter.
Only 237 Skynights, which carried four 20 mm cannon and had a top speed of 600 mph, were ever manufactured. The same Skynight being acquired was test-flown at the General Electric Flight Test Center at the Schenectady Airport, which today serves as the home of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum.
The twin-engine Supermarine Scimitar entered service in 1957 and was used aboard Great Britain's aircraft carriers. Only 76 Scimitars, which carried four 30 mm cannon and had a top speed of 736, were ever manufactured. Only three remaining examples of this rare aircraft are still in existence.
For more information about the Empire State Aerosciences Museum, please see the website www.esam.org .
The Erie Canal was completed along its 363-mile (originally) length in 1825. Some portions of this waterway have been in continuous operation ever since.
Entering its 188th consecutive season of navigation, the Erie Canal is older than the ages of these three historic aircraft combined.