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Brasher group qualifies for A-4 Skyhawk display plane

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BRASHER FALLS — Three Brasher natives hoping to land an A-4 Skyhawk plane for display across from the town’s municipal building have qualified to receive a plane on loan.

James Kelley, one of the organizers along with David MacMillan and Gene Cummings, has received a letter from the National Naval Aviation Museum indicating that his group is “qualified as eligible” for the loan of excess government property, according to town of Brasher Supervisor M. James Dawson.

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, had sent a letter to the National Naval Aviation Museum voicing his support for the project.

The museum, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., is one of the world’s largest aviation museums with more than 350,000 square feet of displays and more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation.

“So we’ve got permission to get it. That’s one hurdle that we’ve overcome,” Mr. Dawson told Town Council members.

The qualification package was one of the requirements for obtaining an A-4 Skyhawk for display. Organizers had to indicate they understood the plane was on loan from the U.S. government and may not be sold.

That qualification package had to be completed before engineering drawings could be sent in for review.

As of January, Mr. Kelley, Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Cummings had raised nearly $12,000 toward their goal of $75,000 to land the Vietnam-era plane for 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 a 1954 graduate of Massena High School, who spent a 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 help find someone to ferry them to another location.

“Lieutenant Colonel Snedeker gets all the information we’re getting, so he knows” about the qualification, Mr. MacMillan told board members.

The campaign to raise more money for the display will get a boost with some electronic billboard advertising in Massena, according to Mr. Dawson and Mr. MacMillan.

A digital sign at Frenchie’s Selects in Massena will be one of the areas advertising for free the “Bring the A-4 Home” campaign.

“Clayton Plourde did the design on this. It’s a very simple design. It’s not cluttered. It has a picture of the airplane and the phone number here. It will be on for two hours at a time for the next couple of months,” Mr. Dawson said.

“We should be on there probably four or five times a day,” Mr. MacMillan said.

Mr. Dawson said he also met with Real C. “Frenchie” Coupal about the display.

“He gave us at least a half hour. He said he was very happy to help us,” he said.

Local businessman Paul B. Morrow also is providing free advertising space on a 4-by-8-foot digital sign at his company’s Massena office, 52-56 Center St., the former O’Brien’s Flooring Center.

“He also agreed to do that for nothing for us,” Mr. Dawson said.

“I think that one will be active next week,” Mr. MacMillan said. “It’s identical to the one on the big screen, but more downsized.”

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 chose that plane because of its smaller size. 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 6,000 to 10,000 pounds. The group would need an area large enough to cover its overall length of 36 feet.

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