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Three men hope to park plane near Brasher Municipal Building

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BRASHER FALLS - There’s no runway near the Brasher Municipal Building, but three men hope to land a Vietnam-era plane there.

James Kelly, Gene Cummings and David MacMillan approached the Brasher Town Board this week about siting an A-4 Skyhawk across from the municipal building on Factory Street on the banks of the St. Regis River as a tribute to area veterans.

They plan to work with Munson “Sid” Snedeker, another Brasher Falls native and 1954 graduate of Massena High School who spent a career in the U.S. Marine Corps before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in October 1981.

Mr. Snedeker and his wife, Ginger, own and operate G&S Warbirds, which can help individuals or groups locate planes and help find someone to ferry them to another location.

“We’ve always been interested in aviation,” Mr. Kelly told town board members as he unveiled a model of the A-4 Skyhawk similar to the one they’d like to bring to the town.

“We would like to get the town of Brasher’s approval. We would bring it back to Brasher Falls, maintain it and place it in the appropriate place in memory of all the servicemembers in the Tri-Town area,” he said.

“The four of us will take care of everything involved with bringing this plane in,” he said, including financing the cost and completing all the paperwork. “Based on what we know... there are sources and we feel we can do it. It might be a month, it might be six years. We’re going to have to raise money. We know it. The town would not be obligated for any finances. It just seems to us it would be a tremendous thing for our town.”

“That would be a nice tribute to veterans. It would be a nice memorial,” Mr. Cummings said.

The name of their project is “Bringing the A-4 Home,” Mr. Kelly said.

The Skyhawk was a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft developed for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. It was capable of delivering nuclear weapons using a low altitude bombing system and played a key role in the Vietnam War, according to Mr. Cummings.

He said they specifically chose that airplane because of its smaller size.

“There’s one on a pedestal in Moira. That’s a trainer. This one is a little larger,” Mr. Cummings said.

The plane would be dismantled at its point of origin, shipped in a truck and then readied by the men for display in the town. It would have no engine and weighs between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds, he said. They would need an area large enough to cover its overall length of 36 feet.

“That doesn’t mean we need that much ground area,” Mr. Cummings said. “It would be mounted on a pylon. We would prefer metal. Concrete deteriorates.” They would also ensure it was maintained, he told board members.

“It would probably need cleaning and polishing,” he said. “We would make it so no children could climb on it.”

Mr. Cummings pointed out that the Winthrop American Legion has an anti-aircraft gun in front of its post, while American Legion Post 79 in Massena has a helicopter.

“We thought it would be kind of nice to have our own here. We have a rich military history here. We’ve had heroes from our hometowns in this area. It would be a nice tribute to them,” he said.

Mr. MacMillan said they would be proud to add the Skyhawk to the local community.

“All three of us are good, bona fide Brasher-ites and proud to come from this community. It would be a great project we’d like to give. We think it would be a great thing to have in the community,” he said.

He said they had originally looked at siting the plane in the Brasher Park, but opted against that because of fears that it might be struck by a vehicle that didn’t negotiate the turn on state Route 11C. And with the trees in the park, it would require more upkeep, he said.

That’s when they turned their attention to the banks along the St. Regis River.

“I talked with Jim and Gene and said, ‘Wouldn’t that be a marvelous spot for it?’ What a beautiful spot right across from your brand new building. That’s what we’re looking for,” Mr. MacMillan said. “It wouldn’t be an oversized monster you’d have to look at.”

Board members said they would need to discuss the use of the land before giving the men an answer.

“I would definitely want it in Brasher,” Deputy Supervisor William D. Demo said.

Mr. MacMillan said, if the project becomes a reality, they would like to invite Mr. Snedeker back from Texas to Brasher for the dedication.

“If we do, I think we should have him here for the dedication. He loves Brasher. We all love Brasher,” he said.

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