Guardsmen hold simulation at Naval Air Station Wildwood

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LOWER TOWNSHIP – Crash recovery technicians from the 177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing arrived in force last week for a training exercise hosted by the World War II-era facility.

“It all went pretty well,” said Naval Air Station Wildwood Museum deputy director Bruce Fournier. “So much so, they have asked to return later this month for another drill.

“They were great to watch. It was a good training situation for them because the airplane isn’t operational,” he added. “Without engines, it is much lighter to work with and, of course, not as costly if something were to go wrong.”

According to Fournier, some 20 Air National Guardsmen participated in the drill, which simulated removal of a damaged aircraft from a runway.

Fournier said the road to NAS Wildwood from the fighter wing’s home at the Atlantic City International Airport in Pomona came by way of Texas.

“We received the F-16 as surplus property from Sheppard Air Force Base and it was shipped up here in pieces on a flatbed truck,” said Fournier. “We reached out to the 177th for help re-assembling the aircraft last summer and this is our way of paying that good work back.”

The two-seat F-16 arrived from Sheppard AFB on June 1. Sheppard AFB, home of the U.S. Air Force 82nd Training Wing, is located in Wichita Falls, Texas.

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum boasts over 26 aircraft displays as well as exhibits of military memorabilia, engines, photographs, and interactive exhibits that allow visitors to discover the science of flight and more.

“We’re very pleased with this reciprocal arrangement with the 177th,” said Fournier. “We’re not just a museum, we are part of the community here. We’ve hosted the events ranging from Governor Christie’s town hall meeting to high school proms. We couldn’t be happier about sharing our facilities with the Air National Guard.”

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is located in Historic Hangar #1 at the Cape May Airport, New Jersey. Cape May Airport was formerly Naval Air Station Wildwood, which served as a World War II dive-bomber training center.

The museum is dedicated to the 42 airmen who perished while training at Naval Air Station Wildwood between 1943 and 1945.

During the winter months, the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, call 886-8787.

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