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Friday January 11th, 2019

Tornado Alert!

Details of Jet Fighter Move Released

(Alamogordo, New Mexico, December 27, 2018) – A Tornado Alert has been issued by the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation in regards to the upcoming move of the German Air Force Tornado fighter jet. The aircraft will begin its journey from the flight line at Holloman Air Force Base to its new home at the New Mexico Museum of Space History on Saturday, January 12 but is not expected to arrive at the museum until January 15.

“Moving the Tornado has presented our team with a set of very unique challenges,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll. The aircraft is too large to move through either the main gate at Holloman or the west gate. “The plan is to move the plane through the La Luz gate, travel La Luz Road to Highway 54/70 and then proceed south into Alamogordo to the Otero County Fairgrounds where it will be parked until January 15 when it makes the last leg of its journey to the museum,” Orwoll said.

Johnny Powell, Executive Director of the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation (ISHFF), took the lead on coordinating the details of the move. “This move has been a challenge from the beginning,” Powell said, “but the outpouring of support and assistance from the community has been absolutely outstanding.” Seventeen different agencies and businesses are currently assisting with logistics of the move. “From the German Air Force and Holloman, to city, state and county agencies, along with utility companies and a variety of different contractors, everybody is pitching in to help,” said Powell. Desert Sun Motors is the official sponsor of the event and Burt Broadcasting is a media partner.

The move is scheduled to begin at 7:00 AM on the flight line of Holloman AFB on January 12. The 56’ jet will be towed at five miles per hour across Holloman to the La Luz Gate. At the gate, special ramps will be built across curbs, at least one light pole will come down and all hands will be on deck as the aircraft literally zigs and zags between power lines, barricades and fencing to the other side.

Once clear of the gate, the jet will continue along La Luz Road with power companies clearing the way ahead. “It is entirely likely that there will be temporary power outages along the road as the jet travels through the area,” said Powell. The tail of the jet is roughly 20’ tall, and although some power lines can simply be lifted up, there are power lines that will need to be disconnected in order for the aircraft to pass through. “The utility companies have been great to work with on this and bucket trucks from PNM, Otero County Electric, CenturyLink and Zuni Electric will be on hand to take care of whatever needs to be done in a timely manner so people are inconvenienced as little as possible,” said Powell. Residents in that area should also expect temporary road closures as the jet passes through.

Once the Tornado arrives at Highway 54/70, it will travel through the highway construction zone into Alamogordo. “The contractor handling the highway construction, MS Constructors, has been incredibly supportive of our project and is working with us to ensure that the plane and the public move smoothly,” said Powell. The aircraft is expected to take up two full traffic lanes.

The Tornado is anticipated to arrive at the Otero County Fairgrounds at approximately noon on January 12. “An exact time for the jet’s arrival at the fairgrounds is difficult to predict,” said Orwoll. “There are so many variables during this part of the trip, but when it does arrive I expect our entire team to be both relieved and exhausted. That’s why we’ve planned the public day for Sunday, January 13.”

On that Sunday, beginning at noon, the public is invited to come to the fairgrounds for the official hand-off of the plane from the German Air Force to the museum. The ceremony is planned for 1:00. Before and after the ceremony, museum members will have exclusive access to the Tornado, which will be behind barricades to protect it.

Museum members will be able to get up close to the jet, take photos and even pretend like they’re towing it themselves. “We want our members to know how much we appreciate their support and this is a fun way to do it,” said Powell. “So if you are a museum member, and you want to bring your son or daughter along with their tricycle, we’ll hook that tricycle up to the tow bar and pretend like your youngster is pulling that plane right across the asphalt!”

The museum’s gift shop will be onsite under the tent, signing up new museum members and registering existing members. Each member will receive a certain number of tickets that they’ll be able to use to gain access to the Tornado, redeem for discounts at on-site vendors like Au Jus BBQ or use to get an extra discount on summer camp programs. The museum’s education department will be on hand with exciting science demonstrations, free activities for the kids and hourly trash can launches.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at www.nmspacemuseum.org. Like us at: www.facebook.com/NMSpaceMuseum/