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Fighter pilot’s statue planned for airport

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A World War I fighter pilot whose children lived in Johnson County is getting a statue in his memory at Indianapolis International Airport.

Col. Harvey Weir Cook was a Hancock County native who shot down seven enemy aircraft during the first world war and died while flying in World War II.

The statue of Cook will be placed in the upper level of the Weir Cook Memorial Terminal at the Indianapolis airport, facing the entrance of the terminal. The bronze statue will be 7 feet tall and stand on an engraved pedestal made from Indiana limestone, according to a news release. Indiana artist Bill Wolfe will make the piece.

Indianapolis named its airport after Cook after he died in a crash in the Pacific, where he commanded three air bases. Cook worked to bring Indianapolis its first city airport.

The Indianapolis airport took Cook out of its name 30 years later but named a new terminal in his honor in 2008.

The nonprofit Weir Cook Memorial Project is paying for the statue with donations, including funds from Rolls-Royce North America.

Part of Weir’s legacy is a story that he threw a hammer from his cockpit to knock down an enemy observation balloon after he ran out of ammunition. He also challenged six enemy pilots while flying solo, shooting down one and scaring off the others. Later, he promoted the then-new field of commercial aviation.

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