Update: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012
In just three weeks, members of the Pheasant Airplane Association have collected $30, 000, which is almost half of their goal to collect $75,000 so that they can purchase a Pheasant airplane from a private owner in Long Island, NY. Members say they expect to bring the plane to Memphis, Mo. this spring.
During the late 1920s, Memphis, Mo. was home to Pheasant Aircraft Company. In 1927, workers built experimental planes, called the Pheasant airplane. Now, close to a century later, there are only three left, and only one for sale. Several dozen residents are on a mission to bring the Pheasant home.
"Everybody knew about this plane for years here, " said Dr. Larry Wiggins, one of the Pheasant Airplane Association members. "And so since it was manufactured here, well, we want to bring the Pheasant airplane back home. "
A mural of the plane is already in place on the north side of the town's square. Also, the building where the plane was built is still standing. It's now Payne Funeral Home.
Many residents say strong family ties are the reason to get the plane back; they remember the stories from their parents and grandparents, who built the planes. Also, members of the Association hope that the plane will become a tourist attraction.
"I think it'll draw a lot of people to Memphis to see this plane," Wiggins said.
"There is a good deal of memorabilia that'll go with it. So, therefore we will have some other things on display. For example some original blueprints, and drawings and that type of thing," said Fred Clapp, the leader of the Pheasant Airplane Association.
The current owner of the Pheasant for sale lives in Long Island. Several residents have met with him and have taken pictures of the plane. It has an open cockpit and a V-8 engine.
"It's restored beautifully and the pictures..you just can't imagine how pretty this plane is," said Wiggins.
Organizers said the owner has one other offer on the table but has an interest in seeing the plane go to Memphis.
"He has an interest in seeing the plane come back to Memphis also. We believe we have at least a few weeks to come to terms with it," Clapp said.
The only hold-up for the Association is raising $75,000- the amount the current owner wants for the plane. According to Clapp, right now, the Association only has $2,000 in the bank and $10,000 in pledges. But, that's no hindrance to them. They say they've just started their mission to buy back the plane in November, and they have just recently started soliciting donations.
"I think surely we'll get it back here because all we've got to do is just get some money raised and notify those people who as I understand it now and we can get it and get it brought home," Wiggins said.
"With all the enthusiasm that we've had, I think the chances of it not being obtained and brought back here are really small," said Clapp.
If you'd like to donate to the Pheasant Airplane Association, they said you can reach them at (660) 465-2195 or (660) 341-2307. Also, they have a checking account set up at Community Bank of Memphis.