‘Skywarrior’ makes final flight from Rota
Stars and Stripes April 3, 2008
After decades perched on display in Rota, the welcoming icon of the U.S. Navy base in Spain made a final landing of sorts — onto the trailer of a truck, bound for a museum.
The Douglas EA-3B “Skywarrior” — which for decades sat in front of the Bachelor Officers Quarters at Naval Station Rota — sails now for the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Ala. After restoration work, the plane will become a museum display, a base spokesman said.
Nicknamed “the whale” because of its size, the EA-3B Skywarrior was the first jet to land in Rota in 1958, and remained there until Friday.
It first served as a carrier-based attack and reconnaissance aircraft, and then for the last few decades as the welcoming icon to base visitors who typically stayed in the BOQ, public affairs officer Lt. Michael Morley said. The plane last flew in 1991.
The Skywarrior was part of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 2, which left Rota in 2005 for its new assignment to Whidbey Island, Wash. When the squadron left, so did the talent to maintain the memorial aircraft, Morley said.
“We lost those skills on base and were not able to keep the aircraft in the manner to appropriately keep it on display,” he said.
“It was showing signs of age. It needed a new coat of paint and there was some corrosion to the exterior.”
It did not pose a safety hazard, he said.
“It had been a Rota landmark for so long, and we’re sad to see it go,” Morley added. “But we understand it just makes more sense.”
Crews from Naval Station Rota Naval Facilities Engineering Command Europe and Southwest Asia Europe placed the plane on the trailer of an Air Force “K” loader for transport.
The plane is headed for the Alabama memorial park, which has a collection of 23 military aircraft from the World War II era through the Cold War era, according to the Web site, www.ussalabama.com.
It will be transported to the States from Spain by ship on a space-available basis, Morley said.