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Published: 1/30/2008

Owens college clears gift of a jet for action, whatever that may be

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Boeing 727 that FedEx donated to Owens Community College for use by its Center for Emergency Preparedness has been fitted with seats and will go into service next week, presumably for training exercises.

Tom Pack, the center's director, said he's not at liberty to say who will be using the plane or how it will be used.

"I can't discuss what will be done, but I can say the interior and the exterior of the plane will be used," he explained. "Most of the time we're not so secretive, but this specific group of people didn't want any details released."

As a general rule, he continued, the 727 would be used by police SWAT teams for training exercises, and by emergency medical technicians practicing to remove stricken passengers.

Hazardous materials teams from fire departments would use the rear of the jetliner, which is a cargo hold, to practice cleaning up spills. "We expect to have trainees from all over the area and, hopefully, from all over the country," Mr. Pack said.

Owens took possession of the 40-year-old 727 last summer after it was flown to Toledo Metcalf Field Airport, dismantled, and transported over land to the emergency preparedness center near Tracy and Walbridge roads in Perrysburg Township.

The plane's flying life consisted of 18 years of transporting packages for FedEx and, before that, 22 years of carrying passengers. FedEx valued the donation at $450,000.

The plane was decommissioned. Its last flight was to Metcalf from Memphis, where FedEx is based. The recently installed passenger seats were donated.

Owens' jetliner is the only one in the area for such training, Mr. Pack said. The nearest one is north of Detroit. There's also one in Columbus at Columbus State Community College, but it's used for other things.

At the emergency preparedness center, the 727 is parked near a mockup of a town that includes a Speedway gas station and city streets. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, the Ohio National Guard, prison guards, and safety crews from private companies have trained there, Mr. Pack said.

Mr. Pack, who has been the center's director for 1 1/2 years, served as Northwood's fire chief for 6 1/2 years and was an Oregon firefighter-paramedic for 22 years.

He said he expects other uses to be developed for the 727.

"We're just going to have to see what comes along. We really haven't explored all the possibilities yet," he said.

Contact Carl Ryan at

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-206-0356.



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