We must admit to a tinge of sadness having seen the F9F-6P Cougar on the back of a flatbed trailer on Monday in front of the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.
For 13 years, the Cougar — along with other aircraft — welcomed visitors to the tourist center as part of the exhibits of the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation.
But the years have not been kind to the aircraft that was built in the middle 1950s and was once part of Marine Reconnaissance Squadron 2 at Cherry Point. Before it came to Havelock, one of the jet’s wings was stuck in the upright position, succumbing to the corrosion that was already impacting the plane.
The aviation foundation nursed it as much as it could, volunteers frequently doing what they could to erase the corrosiveness of time. In the end, foundation members realized they were fighting a losing battle, and to better preserve the plane, they offered it to the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, where workers will attempt to fix the problems, stop the corrosion and put the plane back on display indoors where it will be better protected.
We hate to see it go and will miss not having a piece of Cherry Point aviation history here. But we understand the need to preserve the aircraft for future generations. Still, we can’t help but feel we’re saying goodbye to an old friend. We’ll miss you.