Airplanes are parked at airports for many reasons. The main one is to wait for the next flight, which might be overnight or a day or two away. A plane could also be damaged and waiting for parts or a repair crew. Sometimes there’s a bigger story behind a plane sitting at an airport for months or even years.
Orlando Airport has a plane parked at the airport and it has a fascinating back story.
For those who don’t know, Orlando International Airport used to be McCoy AFB. That’s where the airport’s MCO abbreviation comes from. McCoy AFB was the home of the 306th Bomb Wing and the B52D Stratofortress.
In 1982, the plane’s final flight was from Texas to Orlando.
It now resides as the centerpiece of a park located at the edge of Orlando Airport property. I guarantee you that almost no one from Orlando knows it’s there.
The park is located at the end of a road that hugs the end of the runway. There’s no sign on how to get there. The easiest way to find it is to look for the lot where the ride-share drivers wait for passengers.
When I had to pick Sharon up from the airport last year, I went early to try and find the park and check out Orlando’s resident B52.
Locked. Apparently, the airport authority has a different idea about when sunset happens, as I thought it was when the sun went down. I was able to walk around the fence and get some pictures but I didn’t get to take a look up close.
The park is free and open to the public. There are even some benches around if you’d like to sit outside.
I’d bet that I was the only one to visit that day. Maybe even that week. Regardless of how many people visit, the Orlando Airport Authority does a great job of preserving and honoring the aircraft and all of those who worked on her over an almost 30-year career.
This Facebook page provides a map to the park.
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I remember seeing it so many times, when taking the airport exit from the Beach Line (FL-528). The map says it’s still there, but I haven’t noticed it, lately. Have I been unobservant, or have they moved it slightly, so it’s less visible from the road?
I was at the airport to watch it land and had a chance to look inside…i remember the plane to look a little well used.
I only know it’s there because I worked at OIA and used that road as a shortcut most days.
I always thought it strange that I never saw group tours done, especially school field trips.
There’s a memorial marker on a street in Conway where a B-52 crashed into the neighborhood in 1972. They just took off fully loaded for a training mission then had multiple engine failures and an engine fire. They attempted to return to McCoy AFB, but crashed 3220 feet short of the runway. All seven crewmen and a 10 year old boy playing in a field lost their lives. Eight people on the ground were injured, but survived. The marker is at the corner of Merryweather Drive and Conway Road. A reminder that freedom is not free, there is a cost.
Used to live in Winter Park have seen that beautiful bird many times and I remember it being an Air Force base
Nice to see an article on the B52 bomber. I had the pleasure of seeing these everyday while stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY during the early 80’s. What a huge and beautiful aircraft. Watching them taking off and land was always impressive. They were the first to carry the cruise missile at that time. Great memories.
Used to take my boys there all the time when I lived there
One of the finest ever built. I met a Vietnam Vet recently at a local restaurant, Klines. I commended him for his service to our country. During his tour of duty he worked on B52 engines. He lit up as he talked about this outstanding aircraft. He told me that if they called him into service today, he’d be ready to go in the morning, as long as he could work on those great engines once again…