|By Carmelo Turdo|
|Director McDaniel (Mark Nankivil)|
|Fire Chief Mavrogeorge in 727 cockpit (Mark Nankivil)|
|President/CEO of Bi-Sate Development Agency/Metro John Nations (Carmelo Turdo)|
|FedEx Advisor, Aircraft Acquisition and Sales Beth Rush (Carmelo Turdo)|
President and CEO of Bi-State Development Agency/Metro John Nations receives a model of the FedEx Express Boeing 727 from FedEx Aircraft Acquisition and Sales Advisor Beth Rush (Mark Nankivil)
|Illinois Division of Aeronautics Director Dr. Susan Shea (Mark Nankivil)|
Illinois Division of Aeronautics Director Dr. Susan Shea was also present at the delivery of the aircraft. “Fedex brought in the most important piece of safety equipment at an airport – a real plane…This is real time, real life, hands-on,” she said. Dr. Shea explained how the usual emergency training is conducted in a fairly static environment, using props and stand-ins. She went on to describe how using the FedEx Express Boeing 727 will lend unparalleled credibility to the training that will be conducted at the new training center for emergency service agencies from surrounding Missouri and Illinois counties.
|"Captain" Jack Nankivil and Mark Nankivil in 727 cockpit|
The FedEx Express Boeing 727-2D4 cargo jet arrived at St. Louis Downtown Airport in biting cold and cloudy weather. The aircraft, one of the few remaining in U.S. service with a three-person flight crew, was flown by Captain Bryan Pender, First Officer Robert Dittman and Second Officer Jason Redenius. Following the landing, the aircraft was given a water cannon salute by the pumper crew of the St. Louis Downtown Airport Fire Department as it taxied to the Jet Aviation ramp across from the fire station. Following the acceptance ceremony, the Boeing 727 was available for tours by those in attendance. Here are some views of the landing and aircraft tours:
|Captain Pender, First Officer Dittman, Second Officer Redenius (Carmelo Turdo)|
The FedEx Express Boeing 727 donated to the St. Louis Downtown Airport, the 70th such donation since 2000, has a connection to the St. Louis area. The aircraft was first delivered to Ozark Airlines in October 1979 as N721ZK, s/n 21850. The third iteration of Ozark Airlines emerged after Parks Airlines failed to begin operations from Parks Metropolitan Airport (now St. Louis Downtown Airport) near St. Louis as directed by the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1947. This Ozark Airlines began operations in 1950 using four former Parks Airlines DC-3s. According to Jon Proctor, Aviation Journalist and Historian, N721ZK had been sold to Pan Am by Ozark prior to delivery, then leased back by Boeing for flight testing. Interestingly, in Proctor's photo, the aircraft, now designated N362PA and owned by Pan American World Airways, appears in Ozark Airlines colors but with Pan American registration. Pan American operated N362PA as "Clipper Frankfurt" from 1980 through 1991, and then it was acquired by FedEx Express in 1993 as N288FE. The aircraft is currently name "Michelle." Beth Rush from FedEx Express explains: "At FedEx we have the tradition of naming our aircraft after the children of employees, and that is why you will note the name 'Michelle' on the side of the aircraft. Michelle is the daughter of Martin Angell, who was a package handler in the Heathrow Gateway Operation in Great Britain. Michelle has completed her degree in Child Care and works for a nursery; she is continuing her education."
The Boeing 727 will now undergo interior modifications for the future education and training roles it will assume as part of Fire Chief Mike Mavrogeorge's vision of a regional emergency response training center at St. Louis Downtown Airport. It will be an exciting time for Midwest Aviation as this initiative gains momentum and becomes a model for other metropolitan areas. Special thanks to St. Louis Downtown Airport management, Bi-State Development Agency/Metro, FedEx Express, Illinois Department of Aeronautics, and Jet Aviation for their assistance in the acquisition of the aircraft and the preparation of this article.