Panther to Prowl Scottsville Road

Panther to Prowl Scottsville Road Oct. 10

In the wee hours of October 10 and 11, a sleek Panther will prowl the streets of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

But this Panther isn’t black… It’s blue and it has wings.

The dedicated volunteers of Aviation Heritage Park are moving their newest artifact, a Grumman F9F Panther jet warbird, from the restoration facility at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport to it’s place of honor at Basil Griffin Park on Three Springs Road.

“We’ve been working on this beautiful bird for two years, and now she’s ready to go,” said Arnie Franklin of the AHP restoration committee. “We’re proud to have it join Phantom 550 at the park to begin to tell her story.”

The Panther is the only one of it’s kind in the world to carry the markings and insignia of the Blue Angels, honoring LCDR John Magda, a WKU graduate who commanded the famed US Navy flight demonstration team in 1950. The sleek Grumman is now known as “Panther One”.

The move will begin just before midnight on October 10, continuing along Scottsville Road and down Three Springs Road to the Aviation Heritage Park exhibit facility. The approximately four-mile trek is expected to take less than three hours.

In September, 2007, AHP moved its first artifact to the park. A restored F-4D Phantom known as Phantom 550 became the centerpiece of the park, which is intended to honor South Central Kentucky aviators and inspire future generations by keeping these remarkable stories alive.

Although much lighter than the Phantom, the Panther will present it’s own set of logistical challenges. With it’s wings folded for transport, the Panther is still over 15 feet high and nearly 30 feet wide, making the preparations for the move critical. “We’ve formed a ‘task force’ of local utility companies, law enforcement and the state highway department to insure a safe and trouble free move, “said AHP President Dan Cherry. “A few trees have been trimmed, and we’ll have a BGMU bucket truck following the Panther to lift power lines if necessary.” BGPD and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office will escort the caravan and provide a rolling roadblock to control traffic along the route.