HELENA – After more than 20 years in Helena, the vintage A-7D Corsair II at the Helena Regional Airport will be leaving the Queen City of the Rockies for Lewiston, Maine.
Volunteers began disassembling the plane on Tuesday October 23 to prepare it for transport later this year.
Veteran volunteer Arvester Watkins actually helped build the plane and countless others like it more than four decades ago.
Watkins flew up from Texas to help with the disassembly and said seeing the old plane fills him with a sense of pride and brings back good memories.
The A-7D Corsair II was used by the Ohio Air National Guard before making its way to Montana, where the city of Helena took stewardship of the plane.
Jerry DeWitt of the American Legion Department of Maine said it’s been a long process working with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base but is very excited to get the plane back east.
“The last time this plane flew was back in 1991 in Operation Just Cause in Panama when we took out Noriega,” said DeWitt.
Helena Regional Airport Director Jeff Wadekamper said the Maine American Legion have been looking for an A-7 to place in a veterans memorial park in Lewiston and is happy it’s going to people who will take care of it.
“I’m just glad to see it go to a great cause,” said Wadekamper, “I think what they’re doing with their Veteran’s Memorial park in Lewiston Maine is really a neat project and I think it will be very fitting for that location.”
Wadekamper added it will still be about a month before the plane is trucked to Maine.
The American Legion is looking for volunteers to help remove the wings on Wednesday October 24 at 9 a.m.
Anyone interested in volunteering should show up at the Rocky Mountain Training Center on Skyway Drive.