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Minnesota National Guard
Duluth Chamber launches effort to promote 148th Fighter Wing

An old F-16 Fighting Falcon will soon take to the air at the entrance to Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing

The plane, supported atop a metal pole, won't go anywhere; but it will show the region's identification with the fighter wing

The project is being led by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee

"We are very fortunate to have such a supportive community," 148th spokeswoman Major Audra A Flanagan said "It's evident that the Military Affairs Committee is really doing a lot of work to make this static display happen and that they feel a lot of pride in the 148th For that we are very thankful"

The committee began considering the project shortly after the 148th opened a new gate off Airport Road in late 2006

"Since they moved the access road, there was a desire to set up some sort of tribute to the F-16 they have flown for a number of years," said committee chairman Pat Mullen "It's been a huge community effort Almost all of the work and all of the materials have been donated"

"This project will cost close to $100,000" by the time it's finished, Mullen said

The display's foundation and supporting steel pole are in place near the intersection of Airport Road and Bulldog Boulevard In early August, after the concrete has cured sufficiently, an old Block 10 F-16 will be lifted into place

The 148th flew the Block 10s from 1990 to 2003, when it upgraded to Block 25s The 148th received Block 50s last year

While the chamber and its partners raised money, collected donations and arranged in-kind labor, members of the 148th prepared the old Block 10 for display, removing unneeded equipment to make it lighter, and cleaning and painting the plane

This is not the first time a community group led the creation of a static airplane display for the 148th In 1990 - when the 148th's gate was close to the Duluth International Airport - Skyline Rotary coordinated the effort that planted an F-4 fighter near the airport The plane - representing the model the 148th flew between 1983 and 1990 - is still there

"That Rotary did a nice job with that project," Mullen said

Skyline Rotary donated money for the pole that will support the F-16 and will help maintain the site, Mullen said

Story and photos by Steve Kuchera
Duluth News Tribune
14 July 2011

Duluth News Tribune

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