It was a celebration in Memphis, Mo. Saturday as an antique airplane, a fragile piece of history is revealed. The long awaited Pheasant Airplane has arrived.
The Pheasant that arrived in Memphis one of many that were manufactured in Memphis, just before the Great Depression. Now, more than 80 years later, the airplane is one of three that still exist, and residents said they're ecstatic that it's back in its birthplace.
"We're real excited about this. It's something I think is probably the last time opportunity for the community," said Ron Brown. "Probably a one time opportunity, and everybody has donated. We really appreciate it. "
Members of the Pheasant Airplane Association drove all the way to Long Island to purchase and pickup the plane. They then had to disassemble it and then, Ron Brown brought it back in a semi.
Members of the Association spent all Saturday afternoon revealing the aircraft, piece by piece.It brought tears to Dr. Larry Wiggins eyes, as he has studied the Pheasant airplanes for decades.
"It's amazing something that old can be kept that nice," said Brown.
Many of the residents of Memphis are fascinated by Pheasant airplanes because they've heard stories all of their lives about relatives and family friends that helped manufacture them long ago. 96-year- old Florine Forrester said she can remember when the pheasant airplanes used to fly over her home.
"Oh it was exciting when an airplane went over your house in those days, close to your house. I remember my dad said that plane went over right there went over our house," said Forrester.
For her, Saturday's ceremony, where she saw the Pheasant aircraft once again, and this time up close, the experience was breathtaking.
"I surely didn't want to miss it."
The idea to purchase the plane came after longtime Memphis resident Ron Brown, saw it in the Trade-A-Plane magazine.
"This one was advertised in the Trade-A-Plane and it was a shock to everyone that there was another one available, and it was for sale, and it was flyable. So we just had to do something."
Ron Brown convinced his colleagues that this was a worthwhile project and together, they rallied the town to support the endeavor. In a mere four months, the Association raised more than $80,000 and surpassed its goal of raising $75,000, the price tag for the plane. The owner even chipped in a $5,000, donation, reducing the price to $70,000.
"We've gotten more support than we could've ever imagined," said Fred Clapp, the Chairman of the Pheasant Airplane Association. "Support from all over and the fundraising just...it's hard to describe how this seems to touch a chord with many many people."
Clapp said besides receiving support from the community, they received donations from the east and west coasts and even a donation from England.
After revealing the pieces of the plane to the public, members of the Association spent Saturday evening putting it back together. The plane will be temporarily stored in the Farley Building on Route 136. Members of the association said they'd eventually like to see it housed in a museum on the square in Memphis, Mo.
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