Historic Military Plane In Gravette Gets Restored

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GRAVETTE (KFSM) -- A piece of military history on display in Northwest Arkansas is getting restored.

A T-33 Air Force plane serves as a memorial to a World War I Ace Pilot who was born in Gravette. The plane does serve as a memorial, but it was not flown in WWI.

His name is Field E. Kindley, which is also the name of the park where the plane has sat in for decades.

Mayor Kurt Maddox said the plane is finally being restored.

“It's very nice to have something that represents our military and what they've done for us and it also looks beautiful sitting here and it's also a very recognizable point of our city for people who come through, they know this as airplane park. So, we are excited to have it done,” he said.

Gordon Ponsford said there are thousands of planes like this one across the country and he and his team have restored around a hundred of them.

"The fun of restoring them is what other people get out of it after you're finished with it,” he said.

He said they are like a mobile body shop, setting up and washing away all of the corrosion.

“After we do that, you can see the areas where we've cut out the bad metal and that we'll replace with new,” he said.

Then they'll repaint all the decals and writing.

“The whole idea is to return this back to what it's supposed to look like and in doing so like the mayor said we show respect to all the veterans,” he said.

Ponsford thinks it's important for all history to be maintained and that's why he's made it his life's work.

“Whether it's this plane or the artifacts in museums...it's preserving history. I think it inspires youngsters who look at these planes restored and think I'd love to fly those,” he said.

The mayor said they decided to restore the plane after realizing it was the city's duty to maintain it and continue to loan it from the federal government.

Ponsford's team is hoping to be finished with the restoration later this week and to have unveiling to the community on Friday (July 21).