BRASHER FALLS - Its been a year since three Brasher natives approached the town board seeking their support for a proposal to have a Vietnam-era plane on display on the banks of the St. Regis River as a tribute to area veterans.
James Kelley told Brasher Town Board members that effort continues to move forward with the marketing campaign to attract the funds necessary for the project to become a reality and behind-the-scenes work on design and procurement of a plane.
Mr. Kelley said organizers - he is working with David MacMillan and Gene Cummings - have already raised over $22,000 to bring an A-4 Skyhawk plane to Brasher Falls for display across from the Brasher Municipal Building.
Their efforts were bolstered on Tuesday when Blevins Seaway Motors President Paul Blevins presented Mr. MacMillan with a $2,000 check.
Jim and Dave made a presentation at our Monday Luncheon Club. My father was a World War II veteran who was interesting in helping others, Mr. Blevins said.
His father, he said, was an original member of the 10th Mountain Division which, at the time, was stationed in the Pikes Peak area and asked for individuals in the north country who were interested in joining them.
In addition to Mr. Blevinss donation, organizers are looking at other fundraising opportunities.
Mr. MacMillan said a fundraising effort tentatively planned for mid-September could add a few thousand more dollars to the coffers. He said Mike Viskovich has agreed to host a trivia game night in the area, which would likely be staged at American Legion Post 514 in Winthrop.
He said it was possible to raise up to $5,000 in a night, Mr. MacMillan said.
The group set of a goal of $75,000 to land the Vietnam-era plane for display as a tribute to area veterans.
Were going on a year now. Its getting to be fall again. Were still working on it diligently, he said, noting organizers expect to solicit bids shortly to have a better handle on the cost of turning the dream into a reality.
While the group has already been qualified by the U.S. government for a plane, he said engineering plans have to be approved by officials at the Pensacola Naval Air Station before they can get on the pecking list. Those plans would indicate how they propose displaying the plane.
We had a conference call with Clarkson, our engineers and our contractor. We have a new design. Instead of a concrete pier were going to go with a steel column. Our contractor, Richard E. Maginn, has told us he can fabricate it so it will match the fuselage of the plane, Mr. Kelley said.
Ill have a design for the next meeting. We may even have sent our plans to Pensacola by your next meeting, he told town board members.
Clarkson staff and students have been working on the displays design; Mr. Maginn, owner of Heritage Homes, Massena, has offered to build the stand and platform based on the architectural renderings by Clarkson students; and Hassan A. Fayad, Massena, has offered his engineering expertise and will stamp and certify the plans before theyre sent to Pensacola, according to Mr. Kelley.
Once the plans have been approved and theyre on the list to receive a mothballed plane on loan from the federal government, theyll seek quotes from three different sources and arrange to have the plane transported from the boneyard - a storage area for aircraft that are retired from service - to Brasher.
Still undetermined for costs are the preparation of the plane and camera perimeter lighting that will be installed around the display to provide 24-hour coverage.
The three local organizers are working on the project 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.
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.
The A-4 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. The efforts organizers had said they chose that plane because of its smaller size.
Brasher Supervisor M. James Dawson acknowledged organizers preferred to bring an A-4 to the community, but he asked if other options were available if they were unable to get their first choice.
Mr. Kelley said there are currently 147 A4s in the scrapyard.
This plane has not been in service since 1981 in the United States military, but it is still being flown in some foreign countries. The planes in the scrapyard have been broken down and the engines, electronics and hydraulics have been removed. There are some A-4s in private costs but purchasing them would be an additional expense. We want to get one on loan from the government, he stressed.