Helicopter for park lands at Sikorsky

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2000

Staff Writer

Desert Storm was over and Joyce B. Austin began thinking about a way to recognize veterans with even more.

She came up with the idea of getting a helicopter for Bicentennial Park.

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"I thought it would be an asset to our community," Austin said of the helicopter.

Working with State Rep. Alan Boothe, fellow members of the Bicentennial Park Committee and veterans, she was able to accomplish that feat.

Now, the helicopter is in the hands of skilled workers at Sikorsky Support Services Inc., where they will do a little work and paint job on a Cobra helicopter.

Not every community gets a demilitarized helicopter. Not only did Troy get one, but it got a Cobra, which is something very rare.

"It’s a real coups to get a Cobra," Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said.

Boothe commented other cities in the area have Hueys and Troy has landed the protective gunship.

The mayor said everyone has been "working on this thing a long time," and is more than excited to actually see the helicopter in Pike County and ready to be refurbished.

Boothe, who helped secure the helicopter for his hometown, said the aircraft did fly in Vietnam and was even shot down during that conflict.

The legislator wanted something that would serve as a reminder of those men and women who fought and lost their lives in Vietnam and the helicopter will to just that.

"I feel it will be a great addition," Boothe said. "Bicentennial Park was established as a memorial to those who fought for their country and I think this addition will be a source of pride for the people of Troy and Pike County.

"I’m just proud I could have some small role in getting the helicopter."

Mike Spears, operations manager for SSSI, said employees who actually worked on Cobras during Vietnam will "head up" the refurbishing project the company volunteered to do.

He predicts the helicopter will be ready this summer ­ long before Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11.

After the helicopter is ready for display, Lockheed Martin will attach missiles so it will look "combat ready," the mayor said.

"It will really look impressive," Lunsford said of the helicopter which will be visible from U.S. 231.