East Texas Aviation Museum Celebrates New Addition - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/25/06-Tyler

East Texas Aviation Museum Celebrates New Addition

The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum celebrated its new addition today. More than 200 people attended the dedication of the U.S. Air Force Phantom F-4D, which was flown in the Vietnam War.

In the past year, the museum spent more than 1,000 hours restoring the plane. The plane's pilot, Lt. Bill Curnutte recently passed away. After finding the plane, his family asked the museum to restore it. "We actually saw it for the first time last July when the museum just got the plane, and they opened up the canopy," said Troy Curnutte, Lt. Bill Curnutte's son. "I sat down there in the seat where dad was sitting 37 years ago and I tell you, it was overwhelming, especially knowing what those guys do in that cockpit and how they faced danger everyday."

Lt. Curnutte was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross today for rescuing a fellow pilot while flying that plane. You can see the plane at the museum located next to the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Molly Reuter reporting, mreuter@kltv.com

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