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Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service, Published January 27 2014

Technical college gets last DC-9 in air

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — The last DC-9 in Delta Airlines’ fleet flew into retirement Thursday at Thief River Falls Regional Airport.

The twin turbojet DC-9-50 is a gift from Delta to Northland Community and Technical College, to be used for training in the school’s aviation maintenance technology program.

“This is the last one in the air,” Capt. Bill Yaniero said after stepping off the plane, along with his son, Dylan, and First Officer Travis Wright.

It was one of two DC-9s that left Atlanta earlier Thursday, he said. The other landed in Charlotte, N.C.

Officially, the last commercial flight of a DC-9 was Jan. 6, from Minneapolis to Atlanta, Delta’s headquarters, following a retirement tour of the aircraft as the airline makes its transition to the Boeing 717 and 737, according to a Delta website.

Also on the flight was Merle Carlson, a Hallock native and a 1989 graduate of Northland’s AMT program, who was the aircraft’s chief mechanic. He is senior integrator of Delta’s maintenance programs.

The DC-9, identified as Aircraft NC782NC, is one of three DC-9s and two 727s now owned by NCTC, according to Dan Klug, the school’s chief development officer.

However, the oldest plane of each model will be recycled, leaving the school with two DC-9s and one 727. Those aircraft had been donated by American Airlines and by Northwest Airlines, which since has merged with Delta.

“Now that we’ll have two DC-9s in the hangar, we can scrap out and swap parts,” Klug said.

Besides the latest DC-9, the school will keep a DC-9 that was donated by the Detroit Pistons in 2012 and a 727 donated by FedEx in 2013.

Northland currently has about 70 students in its aerospace program, which includes aviation maintenance technology, unmanned aerial systems and imagery analysis.

Klug said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been working with the school for about two years to update its fleet. He also credited Richard Anderson, Delta’s CEO, for taking an interest in the program.

“We’ve been working on this one for about two years,” Klug said. “We’re grateful for the donations.”