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Retired American Airlines Plane Moved To Tulsa Museum

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Moving 67,000 pounds and nearly 150 feet of metal is no simple task, especially when you have to do it twice. Moving 67,000 pounds and nearly 150 feet of metal is no simple task, especially when you have to do it twice.
Coach seating will be removed so they can add a classroom-like setting inside with computers, a bathroom and air conditioning. Coach seating will be removed so they can add a classroom-like setting inside with computers, a bathroom and air conditioning.

There are a lot of airplanes at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, but the biggest one moved in this weekend.

The journey to move the aircraft began after American Airlines donated one of its MD-80s to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum in 2011.

Since then, more than a year's worth of planning and over 300 man hours went into making it possible.

Moving 67,000 pounds and nearly 150 feet of metal is no simple task, especially when you have to do it twice.

Crews on Friday began the process of lifting the retired aircraft over the perimeter fence of Tulsa International Airport.

They began moving the plane to its new home on Sunday.

"The wind was double what it was yesterday," said Taylor Crane and Rigging Vice President Larry Shufeldt. "We just took it a little slower."

Shufeldt's company provided all the equipment and completed more than three months of preparation at no charge. They ran steel beams through two sets of windows along additional braces on the wings for support, all so the plane could land on three piers, anchored 35 feet into the ground.

"To see it sitting there in-between the two buildings is really exciting, because we've drawn a lot of pictures of what it might look like, but to see it in reality is just unbelievable," Tulsa Air and Space Museum Director Glenn Wright said.

In the future, the interior will be renovated for visitors.

"Remember this is an old airplane that was built back in the 80s," Wright said.

The museum plans to build steps and a wheelchair ramp up to the plane. The first class seats will stay, but all of the coach seating will be tossed away.

"We're actually going to treat it like a building," he said.

They plan to add a classroom-like setting inside with computers, a bathroom and air conditioning.

"And then we're going to have a great plaza underneath it, with picnic tables and food vendors," project manager Richard Desruisseau said.

The next step will be putting the landing gear and jet engines back on, one of which will be used as a time capsule.

"It's a load off my shoulders; it's a smile on my face," Desruisseau said. "It's going to be a great addition to the museum."

Construction on the interior of the plane isn't expected to begin for another six months or so, but should be wrapped up by the end of the year.

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