A Cessna T-37A jet aircraft – which is located in a hangar at Neosho's Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport — is being restored.
"We have started it by getting it (the plane) together," said Steve Herrin, airport manager. "Once we get the wings on and get it to where it is sitting on its own landing gear, then we will come in and start stripping it, sanding it down and getting it ready to be repainted in the original colors that the T-37 was, blue and white. Once we get that done, hopefully we can just roll it straight out the door and into the proposed memorial."
Herrin said he would like to have a veterans memorial at the airport with the plane as a centerpiece. However, those plans have not been approved or discussed yet by the city council.
On Tuesday, Ernie Trumbly with the Civil Air Patrol, was at the airport hangar where the T-37A is
stored. He is volunteering his time to help with the restoration of the plane.
"We got the tail on the last few days," Trumbly said. "We have to use a good quality paint."
The T-37 is a trainer plane that seats two, side by side.
"This is what got the Air Force guys their basic jet training," said Herrin.
Both Herrin and Trumbly said the trainers were used from the 1950s and on.
"In 2006, I think, they retired the last one," he said.
Trumbley said he was very pleased to work on the trainer.
"When I found out about this aircraft, I tried to get it taken up to Joplin when Neosho didn't want it," he said. "I wanted to get this started to give the city something to see and to have. This will give the city another public attraction."
The city first requested the decommissioned aircraft in 2003 on behalf of Premier Turbines, who had planned to place the aircraft on a pedestal for static display at their plant entrance.
However, work was never performed on the aircraft, and in 2012, the city relocated the aircraft from Premier Turbines to a city-owned hangar on the east side of Neosho's Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport.
The Neosho City Council voted in March to renew an annual loan agreement with the National Museum of the United States Air Force to hang onto the borrowed aircraft, at least for one more year.
Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson, who voted in favor of hanging onto to the aircraft, said then that his vote could be different next time if progress has not been made.
Davidson also said in that discussion that the city's only cost associated with the aircraft was to insure it, which he said runs between $150 and $200 annually.
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