DISPLAY THE LAST B-36 AT NAS FORT WORTH JRB

  • Author:
    n/a
  • Send To:
    Aviation Heritage Association, Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas
  • Sponsored By:
    Members of the B-36 Restoration Team.
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The B-36 program began during WWII in San Diego, California, as an effort to develop an aircraft that could deliver bombs to Germany from bases within the continental United States. The war ended before B-36s were built and the giant bomber program was moved to Fort Worth for security and logistical reasons. After the war ended, aircraft manufacturers closed unnecessary plants and laid off hundreds of thousands of workers. The Cold War with the Soviet Union caused the B-36 program to continue in Fort Worth and provided jobs and growth for the area while the rest of the nation suffered through a deep post-war recession. Supporting industries soon moved to North Texas to supply products used for B-36 production. Hundreds of aerospace companies began in, or moved to, North Texas as a result of the B-36 program and permanently established the area as a world leader of aircraft and avionics production.

The last B-36 built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation (AKA: CONVAIR) in Fort Worth is an important artifact of the history of Fort Worth, Texas. All B-36 aircraft were manufactured in Fort Worth at Air Force Plant 4 and two B-36 wings of the United States Air Force were stationed at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth.

Although the last B-36 was never stationed at Fort Worth, when the aircraft retired in 1959 the Air Force returned it to the city of its birth as part of a gala retirement ceremony that was conducted by Carswell's 7th and 11th Bombardment Wings and the 95th Bombardment Wing at Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas, where the last B-36 was based. Thousands of people were present for the ceremonies when the giant aircraft flew the last official B-36 mission from El Paso to Fort Worth's Amon Carter Field. Before the aircraft departed El Paso, the words "City of Ft. Worth" were painted on the plane to signify its importance to the city that produced it.

Part of a letter from the Air Force read to Fort Worth's mayor Tom McCann by Air Force General Irvine, Deputy Chief of Staff for Materiel and principle speaker during the retirement ceremony, said, "With reluctance and pride we surrender this last B-36 [to the City of Fort Worth] and, although the roar of her engines have been heard for the last time, these sounds of democracy and security will be heard in the mind's eye forever."

Following the aircraft's retirement, it was placed on outdoors display in Fort Worth at the terminal entrance to Amon Carter Field and became a major tourist attraction in the area until the airport was closed due to construction of DFW Airport at Irving, Euless and Grapevine, Texas. Following this, the weathered and vandalized B-36 was moved to the Southwest Aerospace Museum (SAM), an outdoor display area adjacent to Carswell Air Force Base, where it continued deteriorate from exposure to the weather.

In 1989, the City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Aviation Heritage Association (later renamed "Aviation Heritage Association Inc." as part of a failed attempt to attract Dallas-based support for funding an aviation museum at Alliance Airport) reached an agreement whereby FWAHA would conduct an annual airshow for the City of Fort Worth and FWAHA would retain all proceeds from the airshows for the explicit purpose of building and operating a museum for displaying the B-36 and other historic aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas. To prepare the badly deteriorated B-36 for display, FWAHA merged with SAM and obtained several other historic aircraft from the former museum. The B-36 continued to languish outdoors for the next two years with no effort made by FWAHA to preserve it.

With the B-36 still deteriorating rapidly and the FWAHA not yet chartered as a non-profit museum corporation, in 1991 the Air Force Museum transferred the aircraft to Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota. Ellsworth, a former B-36 base, had been on a waiting list for many years to receive the first available B-36.

News of the loss of the B-36 spread and alarmed Fort Worth's business and political leaders. Fort Worth's Mayor, the City Council, FWAHA and Convair (then a division of General Dynamics Corp.) reached an agreement with the Air Force Museum whereby the B-36 would remain in Fort Worth to be restored for display at Fort Worth's Alliance Airport.

The B-36 Restoration Group, made up of former SAM personnel and volunteers from Convair, the 7th Bomb Wing B-36 Association, Lockheed Martin, retired military personnel and civilian aviation enthusiasts, invested over 40,000 man-hours in the effort and completely restored the B-36 over a 4-year period. During this time, the FWAHA started a fundraising effort to finance the building of an enclosed display facility.

The Aviation Heritage Association has failed all efforts to raise sufficient funding. During a 10-year period, the AHA has consistently reported a loss of revenue although the AHA receives the total proceeds of annual airshows held at Alliance Airport.

In November 2002, ignoring the pleas of all who labored to preserve the aircraft in Fort Worth, the AHA Board of Directors voted to remove the B-36 from Fort Worth and move it to an outdoors location at Grapevine, Texas, on property donated by DFW Airport. Funds presently available for the DFW site are sufficient to provide display of the B-36 on a concrete slab with only a hope that future funds will provide a canopy to partially cover the aircraft. A canopy cannot adequately protect the beautifully restored aircraft from the ravages of wind, rain, birds, vandals, etc. and the aircraft would again be exposed to weathering and vandalism.

A site plan proposed by the B-36 Restoration Team includes a building at the entrance to NAS Fort Worth JRB to fully protect the B-36 from deterioration. Land for this site is now available, will be accessible to the public and will be secured by the military. Either site will require the dedication of all funds held by AHA.


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DISPLAY THE LAST B-36 AT NAS FORT WORTH JRB

We, the undersigned, hereby petition Aviation Heritage Association, Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, to support the construction of a facility for publicly displaying the last B-36 bomber aircraft built in Fort Worth by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, and other historic aviation artifacts, at a location adjacent to the former Carswell Air Force Base (now Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base) in Fort Worth and to cease any and all efforts to remove the B-36 aircraft from within the Incorporated City Limits of Fort Worth, Texas. Said support to be in the form of all monies remaining from air show revenues received since 1989, cash donations and all other monies received from companies and individuals during the same time period, plus administrative, logistical and promotional support for this effort in accordance with the Statement of Purpose as contained in the Articles of Incorporation of Aviation Heritage Association Inc.

Additionally, we call upon Aviation Heritage Association, Inc. to uphold historical commitments made by the United States Air Force, the City of Fort Worth and Aviation Heritage Association Inc. to provide perpetual care and display of the subject aircraft within the City of Fort Worth, Texas.