Stratford Gate Guard Ready For Removal, Pending Good Winds
It has guarded the entrance to Sikorsky Memorial Airport for
nearly 40 years, enduring harsh winters and balmy New England
summers. And thanks to the efforts of a group of local volunteers,
an FG-1D Corsair will be removed from its concrete pedestal for
restoration, assuring its survival as a local symbol of former
Stratford-based Chance-Vought Aircraft, original manufacturers of
the famous WWII fighter.
Volunteers gathered late last week, prepared to finally remove
the aircraft from its outdoor location, but high winds kept the
aircraft put for now. "I'm calling it off; the wind is making this
too risky," Jerry O'Neill, a leader of the restoration committee,
told the Connecticut Post.
O'Neill, along with members of the Connecticut Air and Space
Museum are eager to get the aircraft removed and the restoration
started. Once lowered, the aircraft will be temporarily relocated
to a nearby hangar where workers will set forth on an ambitious
project to reverse 37 years of deterioration and bring the aircraft
back to pristine condition before it goes back to its pedestal for
"With the modern sealing compounds and paints available, we can
make it last for another 30 years," O'Neill added.
The restoration effort is being accomplished solely by private
donations and volunteer effort alone. O'Neill said funds for the
project could be raised by selling commemorative bricks to be
placed in a small garden at the base. The labor alone, if it had to
be paid for, would cost $1 million or more.
The owners of the aircraft, the US Marine Corps League, were
initially worried whether the aircraft would be returned for
display once restored. Last fall the league sought a measure to
demand a bond from the museum, insuring that it would be returned
to its pedestal when the two-year project is complete.
"We want it out where people can see it," former US Marine Corps
League Commandant Thomas Kanesky said Saturday. "They don't have
the wherewithal to post a bond, but if they don't want a lawsuit
they'll put it back up when the work is done. Everyone seems
Restoration leader O'Neill stated the group hopes to attempt the
removal again in June, but for now they will continue inspections
and what work they can accomplish in its current location.