Fund drive throttles up for Bud Anderson monument at Auburn Airport
A monument of Auburn’s World War II hero fighter pilot stands tall, smiling in a workroom of local sculptor Douglas Van Howd. Now the bronze Col. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson just needs his bronze plane.
Van Howd, who has sculpted more than 50 monuments around the world, is doing the project at cost and invested $55,000 of his own money to build the statue.
About $20,000 in contributions have already been made, so he has had some of his costs covered, but for the project to move forward, more funds are required, he said. It’s currently a third of the way done.
“We need another $65,000 to get the rest finished,” Van Howd said, “and if I never get the rest of this back, it’s not the end of the world for me.”
A project of this scale would normally cost around $250,000, he said.
Richard Anderson, president of TGH Aviation and the Auburn Airport Business Park Association, is heading the fundraising charge along with Jennifer Henry, the association’s secretary.
“(Bud Anderson is) a wonderful man,” said Richard Anderson, who is unrelated to the pilot, now 91 years old. “You look at what he’s done in his life, besides being a triple ace as a fighter pilot in World War II, he commanded a squadron in Vietnam. He was the head of the McDonnell Douglas Experimental Flight Systems. This man is a true American hero.”
Bud Anderson, a Newcastle native who resides in Auburn, will have his monument located outside Wings Grill & Espresso Bar, a popular destination for pilots at Auburn Municipal Airport.
The city of Auburn has already agreed to arrange the leasing of the property and pay for the base and electrical lighting elements of the monument, but organizers are asking for the city to contribute another $10,000 from the Airport Enterprise Fund.
City Councilman Mike Holmes brought the issue to the council’s July 22 meeting, but the topic was continued to get more feedback from the airport business association and pilots.
“We as a City Council always want to solicit the opinion of the pilot users of the airport and also the … business owners out there,” Mayor Kevin Hanley said. “We’re guessing that they would support the request.”
Richard Anderson said the business park association would back the funding, and he’s optimistic that the Auburn Aviation Association will, too. A grand unveiling fundraiser event is being planned for sometime this fall at Van Howd’s studio, he said.
Van Howd said he was 8 years old during World War II and, coming from a military family, witnessed the sacrifices people made for their country during that time. Back then, he was building model planes.
Building Anderson’s plane, a P-51 mustang, will be the most challenging part of all, he said. It will fly above the statue, attached to an 8-foot-tall stand.
“This airplane is harder and more expensive to do than him because it’s so precise. It has to be just perfect,” Van Howd said. “It’s a real time-consuming thing to build an airplane in bronze.”
Jon Schultz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews