Thursday, June 21, 2018
Business

B-17 model would honor history of Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport

BROOKSVILLE — Officials at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport would like to give visitors a history lesson about the facility.

The lesson would focus on a one-sixth scale replica of the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers that flew in and out of what originally was the Brooksville Army Air Field. The Hernando County Aviation Authority is working to purchase a model to hang above the office lobby.

The model would be part of a display of Brooksville airport history that officials hope to assemble with help from members of the community who might have photos, letters or other memorabilia.

A model has been part of the plan since the new office was first discussed several years ago. The Florida Department of Transportation, which helped to pay for the office, insisted on a large lobby because the office was designed as a terminal building.

High ceilings and a strong enough structure to handle the heavy piece of artwork were all part of the plan, said Don Silvernell, airport manager.

"Then we got so busy with other things that this got put on the back burner,'' he said.

Recently, Silvernell heard some details about a model planned for another Florida airport and decided to raise the issue again with members of the Aviation Authority. They were responsive, but also made it clear that they didn't want the model to be purchased with airport money.

Instead, they plan to raise private funding for the model, which will cost approximately $33,000, and other display costs. The aluminum version of the B-17 could even be fitted with working lights and twirling propellers, Silvernell said.

Without even starting the formal fundraising, the airport already has pledges and donations totaling $9,000.

The model maker is Digital Design LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz. Silvernell said he hopes information can be uncovered to find a specific B-17 that flew out of Brooksville so the maker can customize the model.

Aviation Authority member Dennis Wilfong said he hopes the display will draw people to the airport office and honor those who served there during WWII.

"It's kind of a thank you for the people who served … and put their lives on the line for us,'' Wilfong said.

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