The Westover Train, an Air Show Attraction

  • Published
  • By W.C.Pope
  • 439th Airlift Wing
People who've come to the Westover Air Shows always have their favorite machines, for some it's the Thunderbird F-15, for others the B-1 or the Aspray are their favorite or at the last air show the F-22 seemed to be the favorite. But for others their fondest memories of the Great New England Airshow is their ride on the "Westover Train".
The Westover Train shuttled air show goers from make shift parking lots on the other side of base in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996 and people still ask if it will be at the next airshow. The train was originally brought here from the Lee, Mass. to conduct tracking experiments with high flying aircraft.
"The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum was asked by Air Force officials to participate in a special," said Tom Delasco, Chief Mechanical Officer with the Museum. "So in the fall of 1989 several of us went up to Westover to survey the tracks on base."
"The tracks were in good condition so we did some minor work and in January of 1990, Locomotive 954, Coach 329, Coach 1664, and a caboose were towed from Lee to Pittsfield, then to Springfield, then north to Chicopee," He said "Once at Westover we would send up a Conductor and an Engineer to run the train back and forth on the tracks when needed for the testing."
According to Delasco they would occasionally come up to Westover to do repairs and fondly remembers one time when they were here the train was parked on the tracks at the end of the runway one five. Delasco was under the train working when his colleague Kevin Chittenden urged him to come out and see something. When he stood up a C-5 was barreling down the runway straight toward them. Moments later it screamed over their heads.
"Wow, that distinctive C-5 whine was unbearable, it was an awesome site!" Delasco said.
"The testing lasted about a year and in that time Westover asked us to provide shuttle service for the upcoming air show and we were happy to oblige, so in September of 1990 we transported people back and forth from parking lots on the back side of base," said Delasco. "It worked out so well that we ran shuttle trains for the next three air shows."
In 1997, arrangements were made to bring the equipment back to the Museum in Lenox, Mass. closing the chapter on the Westover Train and Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum’s military service.
At the next air show amongst all of the sound of props and turbines, you might be able to still hear the faint memory of the Conductor’s "all aboard" and the rumble of the Westover Train.
research by James Carmenatty