By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Museum lands experimental plane

The experimental aircraft, notable for its bulbous nose, was donated by Rockwell Collins. The Iowa company acquired the 1964 plane in 1976 and flew it for about 8,000 hours on approximately 5,000 missions.

Rockwell Collins, based in Cedar Rapids, used it for test projects that helped shape modern commercial and military avionics, according to museum curator Stewart Bailey.

“The museum is very excited to display the Sabreliner 50 and share its story with our guests,” Bailey said. “We understand how influential this airplane was for the aviation industry.”

Ivan McBride, director of flight operations at Rockwell Collins, said he and the company were happy the Sabreliner will continue to serve, although it no longer will fly. “We’re delighted that it will continue to live in a wonderful environment like Evergreen that is dedicated to educating, promoting and preserving aviation history,” he said.

While in the ownership of Rockwell Collins, the plane, tail number  N50CR, underwent numerous modifications. They included addition of a large custom-made nose housing a weather radar system.

The plane was used to test radar technology developed for Rockwell Collins’ market-leading MultiScan system, which features forward-looking wind shear and turbulence detection. Those systems are now incorporated on more than 5,000 aircraft around the world, and have become standard equipment on many.

The Sabreliner 50 also was used in development and testing of the TCAS II technology featured in the company’s Traffic Collision Avoidance System, used by most commercial and business aircraft today to alert pilots of potential collision dangers. It also was used to develop enhanced vision systems aiding flight crews in low-visibility conditions near the ground.

The Sabreliner 50 will debut next week at the Aviation Museum. It will move to the Space Museum in mid-March.

It joins about 250 other aviation and space artifacts on display at the complex.

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