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A-4 Skyhawk plane scheduled to land in Brasher Falls first week of September

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BRASHER FALLS - An A-4 Skyhawk plane should be landing in September in Brasher Falls, but organizers who have been working to bring the plane to the area say it won’t be put up for display until they have enough money.

James Kelley, who has been working with David MacMillan and Gene Cummings since 2012 to obtain a plane loan from the U.S. government, said the plane is tentatively scheduled to arrive the first week of September in Brasher Falls.

“We wanted to get it here before the middle of September, “he said.

The plane, which was stored at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla., is being disassembled by Worldwide Recovery in Nebraska for transport to their site in Omaha, Neb., and then to Brasher Falls, where it will be reassembled.

“They’re taking our plane apart right now and trucking it back to Omaha,” Mr. Kelley said.

It will cost $30,000 to truck the plane to Brasher Falls and, once it arrives and it reassembled, local businessman John Ward has offered to store it until the group can raise enough money to have it displayed.

“John knows about it. He’ll tell us where to put it,” Mr. Kelley said.

The organizers had set a goal of $75,000 to land the Vietnam-era plane for display as a tribute to area veterans, and that goal still stands to cover all the expenses once the plane has landed in Brasher Falls, he said.

“That $75,000 goal is still here. We’re over $40,000 thanks to SeaComm, which gave us another $10,000. We still need $35,000. That’s where we are. We’re going to keep coming up with ideas. Once the plane is here, the project will not go further until we have the balance of the money. It might be next spring,” Mr. Kelley said.

He said SeaComm officials had suggested that other financial institutions follow suit and make a contribution to the effort. Organizers have sent letters to seven area financial institutions seeking their financial support.

Town Councilman Wilfred Recore suggested they consider other fundraising alternative also, such as creating a walkway with bricks where the individual bricks can be purchased by community members.

While they still need to raise the money, Mr. Kelley said they’ve had offers to do some of the work free of charge. Larry Danko has offered to do all of the primary construction work at his expense, Barrett Paving Materials Inc. has offered free crushed stone and Graymont has offered to provide concrete free of charge, he said.

“We’re working with another possible supplier for the wire mesh and re-rod in the concrete,” he said.

Once the plane is mounted, a rider will be added to the town’s insurance policy through Goodnow Insurance, but the volunteer group will take care of paying the premium, according to Mr. Kelley.

One question still remains at this point - the location of the plane display. Organizers had originally envisioned it would sit across the road from the municipal building, along the banks of the St. Regis River. But Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said he would like to have in at another site near the municipal building, where it will be closer to the road to provide more lighting and security.

Mr. Kelley said that might be problematic because the display plans, which had to be approved by government, specifically listed the area along the river.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s going to be where the plan were approved for,” he said.

“I’m thinking, we had water two years ago right up to this road,” Mr. Dawson said. “Let me work on that on the side.”

Mr. Kelley, Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Cummings 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 the planes to another location.

They already had been qualified by the U.S. government for a plane, and engineering plans had to be approved by officials at the Pensacola Naval Air Station before they could get on the list for a plane. Those plans had to indicate how organizers proposed to display the plane.

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. The effort’s organizers said they chose that plane because of its smaller size.

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