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Organizers seek financial support for Brasher plane project

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BRASHER FALLS - Organizers who are trying to land a Vietnam-era plan display in Brasher Falls plan to send out packets this weekend to solicit donations toward the projected $75,000 cost.

James Kelly, David MacMillan and Gene Cummings hope to land an A-4 Skyhawk plane to display on the banks of the St. Regis River, across from the Brasher Municipal Building, as a tribute to area veterans.

They’re working 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.

Mr. Kelly told Brasher Town Board members this week they’ve already received the support of American Legion Post 514, Winthrop, and the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce for the project.

“We met with Post 514 in Winthrop and the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce. We have 100 percent support from both organizations,” Mr. Kelly said.

He said they’re ready to seek out financial support for the project.

“We’re ready to mail out 200 packets right now,” with another 100 packets going out by the end of November, Mr. Kelly said.

“We’re looking for a good turnout,” he said.

The packets will contain a cover letter, news articles about the project and a photo that has been digitally enhanced to show an A-4 Skyhawk at the envisioned site along the St. Regis River.

Mr. Cummings created a barometer that will be placed by the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce to show how the “Bringing the A-4 Home Fund Drive” is going.

“That will give the community a chance to keep up with it,” Mr. MacMillan said. The three men had approached the town board in August with their plans for the project. Since then, they said, they’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make it a reality, including talking with individuals who can help with the concrete foundation for the display.

They’ll be working with Clarkson University engineering students, according to Mr. Kelly, and Massena businessman Richard Maginn has also volunteered to lend his expertise, Mr. MacMillan said. In addition, Brasher businessman Kevin Weller is making a donation for the project.

As they move forward, Mr. Kelly said they’ve been advised about some of the caveats of the project. One of those, he said, is that the plane will be on loan from the U.S. government and has to be approved by a qualified organization. All expenses are also borne by the borrower, and there is a “pecking order to get on the list with military commands,” he said.

“We’ve got a military command, the American Legion, so we hope that helps us,” Mr. Kelly said, promising the board members an update for their November meeting.

They plan to obtain an A-4 Skyhawk, which 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.

They chose that plane because of its smaller size, the men 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. They would need an area large enough to cover its overall length of 36 feet.

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