As previously reported HERE by WarbirdsNews, the Yankee Air Museum has launched the “The Warning Star Rescue Project” to save a Lockheed EC-121K Warning Star, and move it to their facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. A team has been disassembling the aircraft at the sadly now-defunct Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, located at the former Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Illinois. Jack Weber, a former navy crew chief on the type, was involved in this effort and kindly sent in these images and details. (Incidentally, Weber is also the webmaster for the fascinating willyvictor.com, a website dedicated to those who flew and maintained Warning Stars during the Cold War.)
The aircraft started life as a ‘Willy Victor’, or WV-2, the naval variant of the Warning Star. She joined with the US Navy in August, 1956 as Bu.141311. The type became an EC-121K with the amalgamation of military aircraft designations in 1962, and it is largely equivalent to its US Air Force counterparts. Bu.141311 spent the bulk of her career assigned to the Pacific Missile Test Center at NAS Point Magu in California. She retired to the boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in 1979, but a team ferried her to Chanute AFB for display in 1983. Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum volunteers poured 16,000 man hours into restoring the aircraft between 2000 and 2005, bringing her interior back to its former glory. She is still in great condition, even if her exterior paint is a little faded, and will make a marvelous addition to the Yankee Air Museum.
The Warning Star is supposed to arrive at The Yankee Air Museum this week for reassembly. The museum plans to unveil her at their Thunder Over Michigan Air Show during Labor Day Weekend (September 2nd thru 4th, 2017). Bu.141311 will be open to the public and the Yankee Museum has invited Willy Victor veterans to be part of the event.
When the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum closed its doors in 2015, Bu.141311’s future looked very bleak indeed. She is still owned by the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, but they already have a WV-2 in their collection and had no interest in moving her elsewhere. This is understandable, as it is a massive aircraft and hugely expensive to move. So full credit must go to the Yankee Air Museum for having the courage to save this aviation gem, and take on her upkeep. There are still a number of significant airframes in Rantoul awaiting new homes though, and their days must surely be numbered, so for those who can get involved saving them, please do!
The Yankee team plans to restore the EC-121 to static condition, to best represent the “Star” as she looked during her Cold War days. From here, the aircraft will continue to serve a vital role, though this time as an educational tool, rather than warrior.
Click on the image below to support this project.