Last Plane Maintained At Boeing Wichita Departs

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The last plane to undergo maintenance inside Boeing Wichita’s facility, an E-4B, started its engines and took off Thursday. It flew to the south, then gracefully turned back north for a final goodbye pass before disappearing from sight. A fixture in Wichita, Kan., since 1927, Boeing once employed as many as 40,000 people there. It was a vital center of military production during World War II, building trainers and the B-29 Superfortress and helping the city become known as the Air Capital of the World. Before Thursday’s departure, Boeing employees completed maintenance on the white and blue aircraft for the Air Force. The modified Boeing 747 was undergoing final test flights and preparations for delivery, according to information from the Air Force according to a report in Stars and Stripes. It was headed for Offutt Air Force Base outside Omaha, an Air Force spokesman said.

The next E-4B scheduled for maintenance will arrive at Boeing’s facility in San Antonio in late June instead of Wichita. Future maintenance on VC-25s, commonly known as Air Force One when the president is on board, will also be done in an enlarged hangar in San Antonio. Boeing announced in January 2012 that it was closing its Wichita defense plant and moving engineering and project management duties to Oklahoma City; modification, maintenance and repair work to San Antonio; and tanker work to the Puget Sound area of Washington state. The decision to close the facility in south Wichita came as military programs at the plant matured, came to a close or were winding down and prospects for new work in Wichita were limited, company officials have said. Boeing has put its sprawling facilities up for sale.