The Beechcraft C-45H Expeditor on display at the Museum of Flight in Rome, Georgia has seen a lot of history, including a four-year stint flying cargo and military VIPs between Osan Air Base and Pohang during the Korean War. In September, it was called upon for another mission, delivering medical supplies, including a kidney dialysis machine, to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas.
“The plane did great,” says Peter O’Hare, the mission co-pilot and a volunteer at the museum. “It still did what it was built to do back in the day, and that’s to get in and out of challenging areas with 2,000 pounds of stuff.”
The relief mission was initiated by AERObridge, an organization of volunteers from the business aviation community that enlists the aid of donated aircraft to provide rapid response to disasters. O’Hare and pilot Joel Megginson flew down twice, picking up additional supplies and hurricane relief specialists as they hopped from Rome to Ocala, Florida, then on to Ft. Lauderdale, and finally to Marsh Harbour Airport in the Abaco Islands.
O’Hare, who spent 40 years flying for the U.S. Marine Corps, says flying the C-45H is “a handful until you get her up to altitude. You’re flying it from the time you start the engines. You have no rudder control until you get out to about 35 knots.”
Another challenge was landing in 21-knot crosswinds, which O’Hare quips, “was probably one of my worst landings ever. I think I only bounced it about 10 times down the runway with the crosswind.” But land they did, and they returned carrying evacuees.