Original Evansville-Built, P-47 Thunderbolt Returning Home This Week [UPDATE]
UPDATE: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15TH AT 10:45 A.M.
According to a post on Mayor Lloyd Winnecke's Facebook page, the arrival of the P-47 Thunderbolt has been pushed back to tomorrow (October 16th, 2020) somewhere between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. due to weather conditions.
The City of Evansville has a rich history of involvement in World War II. Not only did many residents travel overseas to serve as troops, including my grandfather on my mom's side, but back home the war effort was supported through the manufacturing of ammunition, LST warships, and the P-47 Thunderbolt airplane, one of which will be making a return trip home later this week where it will hopefully stay.
During a press conference Monday morning at the Evansville Wartime Museum on Petersburg Road, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, joined by Indiana Lieutenant Governor, and Evansville native, Suzanne Crouch, announced the P-47 Thunderbolt, Tarheel Hal, will be returning to Evansville on Thursday where it will be put on display at the museum.
Tarheel Hal was one of over 6,000 P-47s built in Evansville during the war at the Republic Aviation factory on Highway 41 and St. George Road which many residents know as the longtime home of Whirlpool before they shut down operations for good in 2010.
According to information provided by the Evansville P-47 Foundation, the plane was restored to mint condition in the early '90's and has been actively flying ever since. It currently resides in Houston, Texas where it will depart Thursday morning to come home.
Before landing at the Wartime Museum, the pilot will conduct a couple of fly-bys along the riverfront, as well as a "loose figure-8" pattern around the city, according to a statement made by Rick Kaskel, President of the Evansville P-47 Foundation. It is expected to be in the area around 1:00 p.m., weather permitting, and will land at Tri-State Aero near Evansville Regional Airport will it is scheduled to be on display from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. before making its way to the Museum.
The goal is to make the Museum the plane's permanent home, however more fundraising needs to be done to make that a reality. The foundation is currently working with local businesses to obtain the donations need, but are also accepting monetary donations from the general public through their website.
The Thunderbolt name seen a resurgence in Evansville over the past several years with the former Hamilton Golf Course being renamed Thunderbolt Pass after being purchased by the Airport Authority, and of course, Evansville's professional hockey team is also named after the plane, both of which were done as a nod to city's historic past and the important role it played in the country's war effort.
[Source: Evansville Wartime Museum Press Conference]