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Organizers acquire A-4 Skyhawk for display, but need more funding to complete project

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BRASHER FALLS - An A-4 Skyhawk Vietnam-era plane will be making a journey from Florida to Brasher Falls, but organizers of the effort to land the plane say they’ll need more money before it can be put on display near the Brasher Municipal Building.

James Kelley, David MacMillan and Gene Cummings have been working since 2012 to obtain a plane on loan from the U.S. government that they could display in downtown Brasher Falls as a tribute to area veterans. Mr. Kelley told Brasher Town Board members this week that they were successful in getting a plane from Pensacola, Fla.

“We were offered a plane last January. We thought we were going to have to wait a couple of years,” Mr. Kelley said.

He said they had raised $28,900 so far, and it will cost $30,000 to ship the plane to the north country. They’ll be responsible for maintaining it and ensuring it’s secure after its arrival.

“We’re getting closer to reaching our goal. We set a budget and started raising money. Our original goal was $75,000. Now we have enough money to get the airplane to Brasher Falls,” he said.

The low bidder for transporting the plane was Worldwide Aircraft Recovery in Nebraska. They’ll take the engine out of the plane and disassemble the plane for transport to Brasher Falls, where it will be reassembled.

They hope to have the plane on-site in August.

At this point, they have more than 100 contributors to the effort, according to Mr. Kelley.

“We have 101 contributors so far to our program, and we’re very proud of them,” he told board members, noting the money they have raised is being held in an escrow account by Pease and Gustafson, Massena.

But, he noted, they still need to raise money to actually put the plane on display. Mr. Kelley said John Ward has offered space for them to put the plane until they can get enough funding for its display.

“When we set the budget up, we told the town board what it would be. We don’t have all of that money yet. We do have $30,000 to get the plane. John Ward has offered his property to set the plane when we get it,” he said.

They still lack funding for the pylon where the plane will be displayed, which is estimated to cost around $15,000, as well as approximately $10,000 for fencing and lighting, Mr. Kelley said.

“We’re going to have to come back at a later date and mount the pylon when we can afford it,” he said.

Mr. Kelley said they are looking for both federal and state grant funding to move the project forward, as well as searching for more contributors.

“If this project ever failed, which we pray it never did, everybody will get every nickel back,” he said.

The three local organizers are working on the project with Munson “Sid” Snedeker, another Brasher Falls native and a 1954 graduate of Massena High School, who spent his career in the 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 find someone to ferry them to another location.

The A-4 Skyhawk was a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft developed for the Navy and Marine Corps. It was capable of delivering nuclear weapons using a low-altitude bombing system and played a key role in the Vietnam War. Organizers said they chose that plane because of its smaller size.

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