REFLECTIONS

Reflections by Sammy Way: Landmark aircraft was on display at TEC for 16 years

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 3/17/19

Reflections remembers when Shaw Air Force Base presented the City of Sumter an RB-66 photo reconnaissance jet plane as a memorial. "The first such plane delivered to the Air Force was named City of Sumter. The project was initiated by former base …

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REFLECTIONS

Reflections by Sammy Way: Landmark aircraft was on display at TEC for 16 years

Posted

Reflections remembers when Shaw Air Force Base presented the City of Sumter an RB-66 photo reconnaissance jet plane as a memorial. "The first such plane delivered to the Air Force was named City of Sumter. The project was initiated by former base commander Harrison M. Harp and completed under Col. Benjamin Chapman." The plane was put on display at a site selected by Sumter TEC until it was later removed in 1981. Information and photos used to complete this article were taken from The Sumter Item archives.

"Old airplanes never die, they just get towed into the sunset to be shot at another day. At least that's the case of the old jet at Sumter TEC. The jet, which had become something of a landmark at Sumter TEC, was removed to make room for parking lot expansion." The Sumter fire department and maintenance engineers from Shaw cut away at the old airplane with axes and buzz saws to remove the plane's wings. After the wings were removed, the craft was towed away in 1981.

The RB-66 Destroyer was donated to the city by the Air Force; it was eventually towed to the Poinsett Gunnery Range near Wedgefield, where pilots used it as a target in simulated attacks, according to an Air Force spokesman. The plane was moved to a prepared site at TEC in 1975 and at the urging of TEC officials removed to allow the school to construct much-needed additional parking spaces. The Sumter City Council voted to return the aircraft to the Air Force, according to City Manager Horace Curtis.

"The RB-66 Destroyer was used extensively in reconnaissance and bombing missions over Vietnam and Korea. The decommissioned plane given to the city was obsolete and no longer flown by the Air Force."