Planes, cranes and automobiles filled Aviation Heritage Park on Monday morning as a portable repair building was moved from over the park’s first aircraft to a new location, where the newest attraction – a Huey helicopter – will be refurbished.
The portable building, a galvanized steel frame covered with thick vinyl, was purchased in 2016 to allow on-site restoration work, such as that recently completed on Air Force Brig. Gen. Dan Cherry’s Phantom II fighter.
The Phantom is the plane Cherry, of Bowling Green, flew in the Vietnam War when he shot down a MiG-21. It was the park’s first attraction when it opened in 2009.
“It’s been out (in the elements) for almost 10 years,” said Jerry Roark, Aviation Heritage Park board member, of the Phantom.
The plane’s paint had faded, so the aircraft was stripped and repainted “and we fixed some imperfections,” Roark said.
The cockpit was also updated.
With that work complete, a massive crane from Western Crane was used to lift the building from over the Phantom and move the building to an empty spot nearby.
AHP board members and volunteers helped guide the building to its new spot, where it will house the Aviation Heritage Park’s next project, the restoration of a Vietnam-era UH-1 “Huey” helicopter.
The helicopter was a mainstay craft used during the Vietnam war. All the aircraft on display at the Aviation Heritage Park on Three Springs Road adjacent to Basil Griffin Park have ties to local aviators.
The Huey will help tell the story of U.S. Army pilot Col. Raymond T. Nutter.
According to Nutter’s 2006 obituary in the Daily News, his combat service in Vietnam earned numerous citations for valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest medal for valor.
After a long search for a Huey to display at the AHP, a suitable one was found last year at the Davis-Monthan Air Force “Boneyard” – reportedly the largest repository of retired military aircraft in the world – in Tucson, Ariz.
The helicopter is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The helicopter, currently being stored at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport, is in need of major renovations.
“We have started some of the process,” Roark said, such as removing the rubber coating that was put on the helicopter to help…