Retired NASA Research Plane Gets New Home At MTSU


NASA’s Glenn Research Center has said goodbye to its recently retired de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter after almost 40 years of service. The aircraft will be spending its retirement at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) where it will be used for training students in the school’s maintenance management degree program. NASA noted that the Twin Otter was one of the originals of its type, serving the agency as a research aircraft and airborne science lab for the past four decades.

“We logged a lot of hours on the Otter, and it provided many valuable research insights over the years, but it was just not mechanically or financially practical to continue flying,” said former Glenn Twin Otter crew chief Phil Beck. “While we’re sad to see it go, sending our retired aircraft to aviation schools as training aids is something we—through the General Services Administration (GSA)—have successfully done in the past, and we’re glad to see the Twin Otter’s workhorse legacy live on.”

The aircraft made the trip from Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, to MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, via truck. According to MTSU professor Bill Allen, the school’s maintenance students will be able to gain hands-on experience working on the Otter’s Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engines as well as “perform airframe repairs, work on flight controls, and conduct other system-level inspections.” An approved FAA Part 147 maintenance technician school for airframe and powerplant mechanics, MTSU also offers programs in aviation management, flight dispatch, professional pilot, aerospace technology and unmanned aircraft systems operations.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. A real pity such a workhorse had to be taken to its’ final duty station on a truck. Too bad NASA didn’t donate it when it could have at least been FLOWN there.

    • I can’t believe that there was no market for a Twin Otter–even if just for the PARTS. DC-3s are more than TWICE the age of this aircraft, and like most utility airplanes, they still soldier on–even if much-modified. Another STOL aircraft–the C-130–was first flown in 1956–27 years before this aircraft–and the Twin Otter is a far simpler aircraft to operate and maintain.

      • If this aircraft was 40 years old (as stated in the article)–it would have been built in 1983–and was HARDLY “one of the originals of its type”–as NASA claimed–since the Twin Otter was certified in 1965, this airplane was not built until 18 YEARS AFTER THE TWIN OTTER WAS CERTIFIED!

        Most of us TAXPAYERS would be glad to have an airplane built in 1983–but the airplanes WE fly are often much older. A check of Wikipedia shows that the average age of a GA aircraft is 50 years!

  2. I have been using the Clarity Aloft for about six years. I used the Light Speed Mach 1 in ear before that. I like the form factor because I have hair, and I hate getting headset head after the fires leg.

    I’m on my second Clarity Aloft. The wires rotted from the sweat. They fixed it once for free and the second time I had a long Europe trip coming so I needed a fresh reliable set.

    I had mixed results with the audio in the GIV. Some of the older Gulfstreams just didn’t like that headset. I haven’t had any problems in the 737. I use to use them in the T-6 and they worked great but the warbird guys are really pushing everyone to have a flight helmet for safety. I did use them in the Stearman and they worked great but I rely on the green sewer-cans to hold my sunglasses on.

    The great thing about the Clarity Aloft is you don’t even know it’s there. I can wear one on a six hour leg and I don’t know they’re there.

    I have the Bluetooth but I hardly ever use it. Having the audio mute every time the radio keyed, completely removes any enjoyment. What I do (and this would be a great feature for them adopt) is put an AirPod in one ear and the insert in the other. Having one audio in one ear and the radio in the other at first seems hard to deal with but it works great once you get used to it.

    I had an extension cord made for mine by the guys that made the Link. They really didn’t want to make the cord for me but at the time I was flying the Lear 45 and there was a perfect place for the Link but the cord was too short. That extension finally gave up the ghost after around 8 years.

    The one thing that requires diligence with the foam ear inserts is they will get loose and fall down in the cockpit. I’ve found them in the strangest places.

    Great headset. I’d try the other one but it’s a lot of money to try a swing and a miss.