The blue Marine plane, which once stood out on Highway 210 by the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, has been part of the airport’s identity for decades.
But that could change. And all because of a paint job.
Tuesday the airport commission considered options to repaint the plane, which has since been moved off the highway closer to the airport terminal. Recently, the airport learned it was not awarded a grant to cover the cost of paint.
The airport commission voted to seek a quote for the cost to refurbish the plane. Previous efforts to find donations to fund the paint have not yielded many results, although small donations were received.
Brad Davis, airport commission member, said the display aircraft is a bit of an eyesore in its current state so if the paint isn’t donated, consideration should be given to spend the money to repaint it or remove it.
The plane is on loan to the airport from the U.S. Navy’s department of excess property. Steve Sievek, airport manager, said if the airport no longer wants the plane it has to find someone willing to take it or ship it back to Florida.
Sievek said the American Legion Club in Aitkin is willing to take the plane. Previously, a company in Pennsylvania was interested in the plane but the airport commission then decided to keep it and try to raise money to paint it.
Kevin Goedker, Brainerd city council member and liaison to the airport commission, said shipping the plane back to the Navy will be costly.
“We need to let it go or paint it,” Sievek said.
Several decades ago Marine Corps League volunteers put a fresh coat of paint on the plane, but members are not in a position to do it again, Goedker said.
The commission learned a lakes area business with a Marine Corps League membership may be interested in sandblasting the plane at a reduced cost.
“I think it’s a great attraction for our airport,“ said Beth Pfingsten, airport commission chairwoman. “It’s unique. I think it’s a great (public relations) piece. I just think it adds a lot to us I know it’s an eyesore now and we do need to do something with it, but I’m a huge proponent of trying to do everything we can to keep it here.”
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.