WACO Tribune Sunday August 10, 2008:
By Van Darden
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Soon enough, Ron Barrett surmises, the last known Convair T-29 training airplane will go in the recycling bin, to be melted down and transformed into soda cans and tuna tins.
Barrett, a historian for the James Connally Air Force Base Navigators, said the plane was auctioned off as scrap Saturday at Texas State Technical College, the current site of the decommissioned base.
“[This plane] is historic because it’s the last of the C-131 Samaritans converted to train navigators and radio operators during the Cold War,”
Tom Corley attended the auction and said the engines were separated from their frame and sold separately.
“A local guy bought the frame for about $5500 and a guy out of Fredricksburg bought the engines for use in some of his private planes,”
Before the state of Texas bought the base for use as a technical school, Barrett said, James Connally Air Force Base trained navigators, radio operators, bombardiers, and instrument navigation specialists for the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command from 1951 until 1968.
Once outfitted, each T-29 could train as many as 14 navigators at a time, Barrett said. From there, the navigators and radio operators would go on to serve on B-47 Stratojet and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions.
“For all of us who were stationed there or involved [with that program] this represents the last remnants of that Cold War base,” Barrett said.
“It’s all gone.”