April 13, 2020, was the darkest day in the history of Lowcountry Regional Airport (KRBW) in Walterboro, S.C.
On that morning a tornado ripped across the historic grounds of the former U.S. Army Air Corps training base, destroying 21 aircraft and damaging several others, including the famed C-54 Berlin Blockade transport, “The Spirit of Freedom.” The overall damage was estimated at more than $11.5 million.
As we approach the year anniversary of the catastrophic storm, KRBW remains in recovery mode, according to longtime Airport Manager Tommy Rowe.
The airport at Walterboro handles a lot of air traffic with passengers bound for the South Carolina Low Country resort areas.
“We have made secure all the buildings that were damaged,” said Rowe.
The damaged or destroyed aircraft have been cleared away, except for the C-54 Spirit of Freedom, which was on the field for an avionics refit at the time of the storm. It suffered major structural damage.
“The tornado moved the C-54 about 100 yards and turned it around,” Rowe said. “And the tail came to rest on a T-hangar. The roof beams from the T-hangar punctured the left wing, causing structural damage. They had finished the avionics installation and the guys were waiting to come back to move the plane to Florida.”
Rowe said the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, which owns the C-54, indicated to him it was going
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