Area firefighters get new training tool.

What was once a tool for training Reno Air stewards will soon be used by area firefighters to hone their skills in dealing with airplane crashes.

The shell of a disassembled DC-9 airplane was flown to Carson City by helicopter Friday to be installed at the training facility on Graves Lane near the Carson City Airport.

But the operation didn't go without a hitch. The original destination had to be abandoned because of the threat of flying debris from the 120 mph "rotor wash" - the winds generated by of the twin rotor helicopter.

The five-man Army National Guard crew set the shell down on an abandoned runway at the airport instead.

Then, the rotor wash blew the 12,000-pound shell onto its side,

"The original site that we had planned on had too many stones that could be thrown into the windows and onto people," said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Billow. "The force of the rotor wash can do a lot of damage."

The shell was righted when an airport worker showed up with an Army Jeep and hooked up a length of rope to the mangled fuselage.

The shell will join the burn-building, confined space trenches and wrecked cars in the yard at the training facility, said Battalion Chief Dan Shirey.

"It's a great opportunity for us to do something good in rescue training," he said, referring to a state grant of $5,000 earmarked for the plane. "It used to be Reno Air's and when American Airlines acquired it, they didn't need it anymore."

The training plane was once used at Reno Airport.

The grant comes from the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, Weapons of Mass Destruction budget, a usage that "fits right in to what we are trying to do at this facility," Shirey said.

At 60 feet long, it is considerably shorter than a full-sized DC-9. The seating section had been removed and the nose and tail sections were welded together. Some seats, the cockpit and all exit doors remain to keep it as an authentic reproduction of a airliner.

The shell will likely be moved from the airport grounds by flatbed truck in the next few days.


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