Historic Warbird to Join Aviation Heritage Park

By Melissa Warren | 

You may have seen a large set of wings heading to the airport this morning, but they weren't in the sky. They were the wings of a historic war bird that will have a new home in Bowling Green at Aviation Heritage Park.

"The first exhibit went in place at Aviation Heritage Park in 2006, and that was the F-4 Phantom that I flew in the Vietnam War." said Aviation Heritage Park Vice President Dan Cherry.

The park is now home to three aircrafts, and soon to be four.
Pieces of the F-111, known as the "Aardvark" rolled into the Bowling Green Warren County Regional Airport today. It will be the first aircraft in the park dedicated to the War on Terror.

"That's an era of aviation that's extremely important to all of us, but to have that local connection too is very special," said Cherry.

That local connection is Arnie Franklin, an F-111 pilot that lead Operation Eldorado Canyon, the 1986 Lybian raid authorized by President Reagan in response Gaddafi's acts that killed American servicemen in Germany.

"When they offered us this airplane, I went back and checked my records and low and behold, this airplane was in the raid on my right wing," said Aviation Heritage Park President, and F-111 pilot Arnie Franklin.

The plane went on to serve with distinction in the Gulf War.

"She was the high-flier in the Desert War, flying 56 combat missions. she was also distinguished in that she dropped the last bomb on the last night of Desert War," said Franklin.

She's been retired in Arizona since 1998, just waiting for Franklin and the Aviation Heritage Park to give her a new home.

"She sat there in the desert all these years, waiting for us to find her," said Franklin.

Now the Aviation Heritage Park crew has the challenge of piecing her back together, and restoring her to her former glory. They hope to have her ready to display by next summer.

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