NEOSHO, MO.--- An aircraft with the nickname "Tweety Bird" is getting its wings restored back to its original look with the help of Neosho volunteers. It's a Cessna T-37 Jet and it was once used as a military training aircraft. Local volunteers are working on putting the aircraft back together to display in front of the airport.
"I'm passionate about flying. I'm passionate about my airport. I want it to succeed and I want it to draw more people," said Steve Herrin, Neosho Hugh Robinson Airport Manager.
Steve Herrin is the airport manager at the Neosho Hugh Robinson Airport and just one of the many volunteers helping to get the 1950's jet reassembled.
"We had it in crates and we had it in different boxes, so we had to get it out of the crates and boxes and get it all lined up with the different hardware that we need to reassemble it, and that's what we've done so far," said Herrin.
The city manager says the training jet has been at the Neosho airport for about a year.
"We got it transported from Premeir Turbines out there so that we could mount it out here at the city airport to display it in front of our airport for people to see," said Troy Royer, Neosho City Manager.
He's looking forward to seeing the plane back in one piece.
"I'm glade to see that it's getting put together and I will be very happy to see it mounted out there," said Royer.
The twin engine jet was a trainer attack type aircraft that was used in the United States Air Force as well as several other air forces around the world.
"They modified it to become a AT-37, which was an attack trainer aircraft and they actually had hard options to drop bombs and it was bigger engines and it was used to support the troops in Vietnam," said Herrin.
Herrin says it's a piece of history not just to the aviation family but for everyone.
"It will bring back memories of them, where they'll come out and want to bring their grandkids and so on, and everybody will get a kick out of seeing it," said Herrin.
Although saving history is important to Herrin and other volunteers, it's also vital to keep the younger generations involved in the aviation field.
"I want young people in on this and this will help do that, because young people will see this and think, 'wow, I could fly that.' I did. I started out here watching airplanes and ended up learning how to fly, we need the young people," said Herrin.
They're not sure when they'll be finished repairing the T-37. It all depends on the weather, but it is one of only 419 still in existence in the U.S.
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