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October 22, 2018

12/11/2014 4:23:00 PM
Thomas talks about Boeing C-97G landing at Don Q Inn

by Kayla Barnes

It has been 37 years since the Boeing 377 or C-97G made its debut in Dodgeville, purchased by Don Quinn to be used as a restaurant outside the Don Q Inn.
In May this year, Tom Thomas, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force, spoke to avid listeners at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh about his role he played in landing the plane 37 years ago.
Thomas elaborated on his role as copilot to pilot Dick Schmidt and flight engineer Harold Waligorski. Jokes of Tom, Dick and Harry amused many after learning the crew's names.
He went into great detail on how the three men prepared for the landing at the 2,700 x 30 foot runway at Dodgeville Municipal Airport which is no more. The plane had a wing span of 141'3" and the fuselage is 110'4".
They all walked the runway numerous times to make sure the plane would even fit. The edge of the wheels were in the grass on sides of the runway and a windsock had to be lowered for fear the wings would clip it off as it was too close to the runway.
Thomas mentioned how he had worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aeronautics and had surveyed the airport before they took the plane there. The runway was uphill and would be better to land the large plane.
The plane was loaded with 10,000 lbs of fuel, which is enough to fly to New York. The C-97 took on a lot of oil to run all of its 112 pistons. It had a 53 gallon oil tank and used two gallons of oil an hour. But by the time they came in to land, the low oil light came on.
The plane is known for hauling cargo in the Air Force but possibly most well known for the use in its 1975 Mercury Cougar commercial featuring a live cougar and actress Farrah Fawcett. She went on to autograph the air plane's fuselage. The plane was painted and unfortunatly Fawcett's signature was painted over. It is slightly visible but faded.
The lecture was video taped and is free to watch on video.pbs.org, titled Landing a C-97G at Dodgeville.



Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Article comment by: Mason Decker

In reply to Bob Hunter: Yes, another 4-engine plane, I believe a DC-10, did land and take off from that runway a few years before the C-97 did. The copilot of the C-97 briefly mentions it in the PBS video

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Article comment by: bob Hunter

If memory serves me right. This plane was the 2nd one this size that landed there. Also, I believe that when that plane left. The pilot's had a bet that by time the plane reached a marked spot on the runway, it would be air-borne. I believe the pilot's won that bet.
Am I correct ??




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