Veterans Park will soon have another piece of military hardware on display with the addition of a Bell Aircraft HUL-1 Sioux helicopter.
"These models were produced in '55 and '56 - this is actually a cousin of the model that you see on the M*A*S*H TV show airlifting wounded soldiers," said Jiggs Moore, parks department director.
The helicopter is here thanks to a loan agreement with the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla. "That's who loaned us the jet," said Moore.
Moore said the helicopter had previously been abused while on display in another community "so they took it away from them and had it sitting down there."
Tom Austin learned of the opportunity during a meeting with H.R. Curry, aircraft collections manager for the National Museum of Naval Aviation, to discuss what was available for display at Veterans Park.
Austin brought the idea back to the Veterans Park Committee of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the park. "They agreed it would be something we would like," said Moore.
The original loan agreement was signed in May 2003. In February the helicopter was brought to Sikeston on a trailer. "Pullen Brothers was kind enough to agree to go down there and pick up the helicopter for us," Moore said. "We had is stored down at the Public Works complex."
Since then, the community has been busy fixing it up for display here.
"We had the bubble repaired - when we got it, it had a couple of pretty good holes in it," said Moore. "Carnell's has done some bodywork on it and painted it for us. ... This was a Navy helicopter - that's why it has the blue color. Kinder Sign Company donated the decals."
Once the Veterans Park Committee's engineer returns, they will be able to tackle the final step.
"The big thing now is we have to mount it," said Moore. "We'll work on getting it up as soon as we can."