Albany’s former economic development director. Dick Ebbert, dreamed of placing a plane outside of the city’s municipal airport more than 10 years ago.
The A-4 Skyhawk fighter jet completed its long journey Friday, when it was officially declared a monument of the city.
Ebbert, who died in May 2008, initiated the project in 2007 by working with the General Services Administration to obtain three surplus planes from Las Vegas. Local pilots at the time funded the cost to bring the planes to Albany and volunteers worked to reassemble the parts into one plane.
“We wanted to recognize some of the work to get this thing out here,” Public Works Operations Director Chris Bailey said on Friday before a group of about a dozen people, including Ebbert’s widow, daughter and grandchildren.
The plane assembled into the monument was used in Vietnam, Desert Storm and National Guard units. It’s been hollowed out, but according to transportation superintendent Jon Goldman, it still weighs 3 to 4 tons.
Goldman was the latest overseer of the project after former City Manager Wes Hare retired and Ebbert passed away. He said the paint job reflects both the Navy and the Marines and the “Capt. Dick Ebbert ‘Skippy’” emblazoned on the side is in honor of Ebbert’s work to get the plane to Albany.
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Hare wasn’t present for Friday’s event but sent a written statement noting that the monument represented more than a plane. Communications officer Marilyn Smith read the statement.
“For me, it stands for character,” he wrote. “I know something about the courage it took for a young man to climb into that cockpit.” He continued: “It’s a reminder of a great man.”
Ebbert’s wife, Sylvia, said her husband loved working for the city in his retirement and often put in more hours than he had in his work at Pacific Power.
“His favorite part of the job was working with the pilots and at the airport, He loved every one of the guys,” she said. “I can say right now that he is here and he is humbled by this.”
Friday would have been Ebbert’s 77th birthday.