Moving Aircraft Into the New Main Gallery at Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Stephen Ryan, Director at Freeman Ryan Design (FRD), reviews move sequence drawings. FRD are experts at aviation museum development.
Sample page from the 17 page sequencing diagram detailing every aircraft move.

Preparation for the Aircraft Move began in 2021, long before planes were positioned into the new main gallery space in October-December of 2023. The Museum’s Collections staff worked closely with community partners such as Wilson Air and American Airlines to be sure aircraft were moved with precision and care. Each step of the move sequence involved careful planning to ensure aircraft were moved as few times as possible and in the correct order. In addition to the hundreds of hours dedicated to this move by Museum staff, it took hundreds more from volunteers with specialized aviation backgrounds.

Moving large objects such as aircraft is a complicated task and requires an experienced skillset to do so safely, especially when dealing with the Museum’s precious artifacts. Dave Tresaloni, Assistant General Manager at Wilson Air Center, has 30+ years of experience as a tug operator for the FBO at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Dave places aircraft with precision and has the skills to maneuver fragile aircraft safely and efficiently, minimizing stress on these historic airframes. Dave and a team of experienced technicians from Wilson Air graciously volunteered many hours to move more than 20 aircraft during the month of November 2023.

(Oct 31, 2023) Dave Tresaloni moves the F-9F using Wilson Air Center’s Lektro tug. Moving the aircraft would not have been possible if not for the generous temporary loan of equipment such as the Lektro.
(Dec 4, 2023) With the aircraft packed tightly into the new space, Dave executed precise maneuvers around (and sometimes underneath) aircraft.

It wouldn’t be possible to move the aircraft at all if it wasn’t for the help of American Airlines volunteers. Brett Ebert, Aircraft Maintenance Technician at American Airlines, has volunteered with the museum for over 10 years, kindly offering his expertise in aircraft maintenance to keep the museum collection in a moveable state. Brett and a group of fellow American Airlines volunteers diligently showed up every week of the aircraft move to fill tires with air, seal leaking fuel or hydraulic oil, tie down aircraft, lower wings, attach drop tanks, and anything else necessary to get the aircraft into the new facility safely. Now that the aircraft are in the building, American volunteers continue to support the museum by reassembling aircraft to prepare them for display.

Brett Ebert [center] and American Airlines volunteers reassembled the Ercoupe so it could be suspended from the ceiling where it will be on display when the museum reopens.
(Nov 2, 2023) Brett is pictured here [right] working with J Supor, the rigging company responsible for moving the Miracle on the Hudson, on how to lift and reattach the horizontal stabilizer on the Airbus A320 (US Airways, Flight 1549 ‘Miracle on the Hudson’). Brett and the team from American Airlines have been critical partners in the care for this aircraft. Many of the American volunteers have experience on Airbus A320s and have been a part of the reassembling of the control surfaces and wings since the museum first acquired the A320 in 2011.

List of Volunteers from Wilson Air Center:

  • Dave Tresaloni
  • Austin Girting
  • Cameron Pyle
  • Campbell Anderson
  • Curtis Anderson
  • Dan Alfaro
  • Hunter Hollister
  • Jerry Caskett
  • Louis Finkle
  • Michael Sharp
  • Ryan Sargent
  • Sherwood Ellis
  • Todd Rivard

List of Volunteers from American Airlines:

  • Brett Ebert
  • Paul Citriniti
  • Matt Stauble
  • Tom Parme
  • Paul O’ Sullivan
  • Norman Adams
  • Scott Orloff
  • Nicholas Granatowski
  • Chris Cote
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