An experimental plane, the F5D Skylancer, once piloted by astronaut Neil Armstrong, exits Interstate 71 in Montville Township on Tuesday before heading east on state Route 18 to be restored at a plant in Copley.
BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE Enlarge
It wasn’t a giant leap for mankind, but it was a huge undertaking as NASA history traveled through Medina County on Tuesday.
Ameri-Line Inc., a Columbia Station transportation company that specializes in overweight shipments, has moved some unique products, and Tuesday it was astronaut Neil Armstrong’s F5D Skylancer from the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta to Thomarios in Copley to be restored.
“We end up doing some very unique projects,” said Ameri-Line co-owner Greg Romanovich, of Montville Township.
Ameri-Line, 27060 Royalton Road, transported the 20,000-pound plane up Interstate 75, south of Lima, across state Route 30 to Interstate 71 north.
Police directed traffic as the carrier hauling the F5D Skylancer exited at state Route 18 in Montville to head east and then south to Copley.
Romanovich said the project to transport the F5D Skylancer, which is 50 feet long and 28 feet wide, had been in the planning stages for almost four months. They had to measure the roadways and identify construction barriers, and they had to acquire 20 permits for the transport.
They also had to deal with insurance red tape.
“There are only two of these jets left,” Romanovich said. “There were only four built.”
He said the insurance company said the F5D Skylancer was worth $700,000.
“It was a prototype for the space shuttle, something that went into space. Neil’s plane was used for test flights.”
When NASA was done with testing, it gave the plane to Armstrong, who died in 2012. He was the commander of the Apollo 11 in 1969 and was the first man to step on the moon’s surface. At that moment, he uttered the famous quote, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Transporting precious history, Romanovich noted the driver had to be especially careful.
“If you hit a pole, you can’t buy a new wing for it,” he said.
Romanovich also thanked the Montville and Copley police departments and the Ohio Highway Patrol for their help with the transport.
“We thought it might take two days,” Romanovich said. “We got it there before the school buses were there in the afternoon.”
He said the F5D Skylancer left the museum about 8 a.m. Tuesday and arrived about 12:30 p.m. at Thomarios, 1122 Jacoby Road, Copley, a specialty paint and coatings contractor.
A spokesman for Thomarios said the plane was delivered to its plant, which handles commercial painting and aircraft restoration. Two of its high-profile projects were restoring the Saturn Apollo 5 rocket and an aircraft carrier.
Ameri-Line has been involved in some huge projects through the years including:
- Chief Wahoo sign that was on the now defunct Cleveland Stadium. It was delivered to Brilliant Electric Sign before going to its resting place at the Cleveland History Center.
- Two killer whales, including Shamu, from the Cleveland International Hopkins Airport to SeaWorld in Aurora. They were transported in giant water tanks.
- Euclid Beach carousel from Maine to a warehouse in Cleveland to be restored. It is also now at the Cleveland History Center.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.