Ex-pilot builds, donates model airplanes to Yukon museum

EL RENO — Ron Kennedy didn’t have much time to talk. He had a job interview to get to.

It was just another in a long line of projects for the 75-year-old Navy vet, who said he likes to stay busy.

Kennedy said he was hopeful the company he was interviewing with would give him a shot.

“I’ve got a great driving record,” he said. “I want to stay active.”

Kennedy has stayed active most of his life. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served as a pilot flying electronic countermeasure planes. He even has the scar and the medal to show for the bullet that entered his back while flying a mission.

“Our job was to kill the radar so others could go in,” he said during a recent interview.

He served in the Navy from 1960 until 1970 when he left due to a medical condition related to the wound he received in 1966. Kennedy said he flew 135 missions over Laos and Vietnam.

While in the Navy, he flew an EA-1F.

After leaving the military as a lieutenant junior grade, Kennedy purchased land on Banner Road and set up shop working in the construction industry.

That love of working with his hands led him to begin creating handmade models.

He recently donated a replica of a B-17 to the Yukon Veterans Museum.

The project took more than seven months to complete and is named for the San Antonio Rose.

Kennedy said he built the plane in honor of a friend who died while flying the plane.

“It is detailed with all the authentic bureau numbers and nose art,” he said.

Kennedy said he had a workshop in Yukon for more than 25 years in which he built hand-made airplanes

“They are all over the country in museums,” he said.

There are three of Kennedy’s models in the Yukon museum.

The latest was donated earlier this month. The B-17 with a 72-inch wingspan.

He said it took three people to hang it from the ceiling of the museum.

“It’s the last one I made,” Kennedy said.

He said some health issues, such as arthritis and failing eyesight, prompted him to sell his equipment.

“By doing that, I met a lot of people and made friends with a lot of people. They would hear about me, and we would talk and they would want a certain airplane,” he said.

So he made the airplanes.

Kennedy said he never priced any of his airplanes.

“I was always happy with what I got paid,” he said.

The process took months for each plane. The details had to be right, Kennedy said.

“It kept my mind active. I met a lot of wonderful people, just by my hobby. Everyone I made one for, we’ve become lifelong friends,” he said.

As for his most recent donation to the Yukon museum, Kennedy said it was an honor.

“It’s an honor for me to give my time and labor to build something for them. That makes me feel like I contributed something to their cause,” Kennedy said.

Rick Cacini, curator of the museum, said he was happy to accept the donation.

“Any donation coming into the museum supports the veterans of our community. When people visit, they get to see the artifacts,” Cacini said.

Most recently, a group of veterans from the Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Hospital visited the museum.

Cacini said the displays often help the veterans find a type of closure.

“They represent some of the aircraft that these guys were on. A lot of veterans have been on these planes. They talk about their experiences. … I think the airplanes are assisting with closure,” he said.

Leave a Comment