Dick Dean, the man responsible for bringing the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport’s F9F6 display aircraft to Brainerd 32 years ago, on Thursday placed a time capsule in the cockpit of the renovated “airplane on a stick” at the facility’s entrance.
Mounted on a rotating post, the jet was returned to its perch after being sandblasted and refurbished over the winter after 30 years exposure to wind, sun and birds.
Dean originally transported the aircraft from Virginia Beach, Va., and helped display it as a memorial to freedom, Mike Petersen, the airport’s unofficial historian said. Petersen, an aviation enthusiast, is the Airport Support Network volunteer for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Petersen said the time capsule included copies of Thursday’s Brainerd Dispatch and USA Today as well as newspaper stories pertaining to the aircraft by the Dispatch and the Park Rapids Enterprise. The capsule also included the original aircraft documentation, a printed copy of a photographic scrapbook, a 1960s vintage Coke can that was found in the nose of the aircraft and a thumb drive containing 60-plus digital, historical photos.
The time capsule was signed by all of the participants and sponsors of the restoration effort as well as current airport commission members.
Sponsors of the recent restoration include Dondelinger Automotive, Deerwood Bank, Rardin Construction, Spalj Construction, Park Rapids Aviation and Korby Construction.
A fund drive is underway to construct a permanent monument at the base of the aircraft to memorialize veterans. Organizers of the fund are hoping to raise money and start construction in time to complete the project for an August dedication ceremony. Individuals or organizations who would like to donate to this project may contact Interim Airport Manager Rick Adair at 825-2166.