Aircraft Roll Through South Des Moines

20660814928_ff923210af_kBack to school to-do list:

  1. Wax the floors
  2. Stock the cafeterias
  3. Wash the buses
  4. Move the airplanes to their new hangar

Wait a minute. What’s that last item?

There are certain things school districts of all sizes and shapes and locales have in common. And then there are three in the entire country that have FAA certified programs in aviation technology. And maybe just one that maintains its own grounded air force comprised of a retired USAF Learjet, a couple of Cessnas, a Mistubishi MU2 and a helicopter.

That would be Des Moines Public Schools and since the district lost its lease on facilities at the Des Moines International Airport the fleet had to be moved on Saturday to its newly built home on County Line Road, near McCombs Middle School.

It’s too short a distance to fly and the curriculum trains mechanics and technicians instead of pilots anyway, so Saturday morning the carefully planned overland move was on. Terrestrial tugboats, rolling forward in reverse so their drivers could see the full wingspan of their tows at all times, filed the following “flight” plan: East on McKinley, south at Fleur Drive to Army Post, east to S.W. 9th, south to County Line and then east again to the new facilities. Altitude = 0; cruising speed @ 3 mph.

As the unlikely procession crawled out of the former headquarters under police escort onlookers came out of their homes to see a sight as unexpected as flying pigs – airplanes wheeling down their street at tricycle speed. When they hung a right at the lights at the corner of McKinley & Fleur, a busy intersection when traffic isn’t yielding to aircraft that takes up both lanes, cameras were snapping.

Questions that had never occurred to anyone started to. For instance, do airplanes have horns to honk when they’re stuck in traffic?

At the end of the day it was another tricky mission accomplished. Five aircraft were carefully, slowly zig-zagged a few miles and tucked away into their new garage. Needles had to be threaded in a couple of spots rounding into the home stretch where there were only inches to spare beyond the wingtips, but that’s how it is with moving days, right?

So it goes in the school district that turns heads. The 2015-16 voyage of the aircraft carrier DMPS sails on Wednesday.

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