It’s not every day you see a military jet rolling down Grand Avenue, but that was the sight on the evening of June 13. That’s when the mounted aircraft which was once on display at Wausau’s VFW Burns Post 388 on River Drive was moved to Alexander Airport Park.
The move was a joint effort between the City of Wausau, U.S. Air Force, and the Air National Guard from Dane County’s Truax Field. The Air National Guard used the move as a training exercise in the removal, recovery, and movement of downed aircraft.
An announcement regarding the plane’s move was not previously announced due to safety concerns surrounding the project. The aircraft was an oversized load moving through the city streets of Wausau which required some parking restrictions and road closures to ensure the safety of bystanders, vehicles, and the aircraft.
The jet, which will undergo a complete exterior renovation, will be mounted on a steel pedestal at the corner of Lake View Drive and Pied Piper Lane. Educational panels will tell the story of the plane and its highly-decorated pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Arnold Clarke.
This is the first step in the renovations at Alexander Airport Park which were developed by the Southeast Side Neighborhood Group. Southeast Side volunteers have been working closely with city and county leaders as well as Becher-Hoppe engineers to develop the park which is in close proximity to Wausau’s Downtown Airport. In addition to the mounted aircraft, the park will feature an aviation-themed playground, education stations, a glider hill, adult fitness equipment, and an exercise path.
Groundbreaking at Alexander Airport Park is anticipated following the conclusion of the Balloon Rally & Rib Fest in mid-July 2017. Ribbon cutting for the new park is planned for October 7, 2017, to coincide with the 2nd Annual Run the Runway 5k at the Wausau Downtown Airport.