BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO 10/18/2014) – This morning at Aviation Heritage Park, community members gathered as park personnel dedicated the NASA T-38 Talon in honor of Terry Wilcutt and the late Dave Finney.
“Of course, Dave and I are from this area. He’s from Auburn and I am from Russellville originally. And, the very idea that there’s a park like this, plus an airplane with our names on it, from our careers at NASA, which we both flew this very airplane, that’s pretty nice,” Terry Wilcutt said.
The park’s President admits getting the plane was not easy, but says they were tenacious throughout the process.
“We had to convenience people that we were dead serious about this and the purpose that we wanted to do. We want to tell the story, to educate people, to motivate and inspire, and to honor the people from this community that have done and achieved great things for this country,” Jim Wright said.
Also on hand as today’s guest of honor, was NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, who is a retired United States Marine Corps Major General, and former NASA astronaut. He credits the park for sharing those stories.
“What’s really important is to hear the story of the people who flew them, and maintained them, because those are the stories that will help our kids become better leaders in the future,” General Bolden said.
Bolden suggests that south central Kentucky has the right tools to encourage aviation to our youth.
“Hopefully, Gatton Academy, and the work that they do, will serve to push the focus even down to Elementary and Junior High schools. So, we can capture more and more of the kids in Kentucky, and let them be Terry Wilcutts’ and Dave Finneys’,” Bolden added.
Finney’s wife, Jill, tells us that both of Dave’s parents were in the school system, and highly valued education.
“He always really respected teachers and, I think, as a legacy to the children of the next generation, he’d be very proud,” Terry Wilcutt said.
They are proud that this plane is encouraging future generations to reach for the stars.
While in Bowling Green, General Bolden also took the opportunity to speak to the students in Western’s Gatton Academy.