Traffic is backed up on Highway 171 Monday while the T-33 Shooting Star is pulled from Plainview Auto Sales to Joplin Regional Airport.

T-33 jet moved to new home but will still be a landmark on Highway 171

It will first be restored a little by the Joplin Freedom of Flight Museum

Traffic on Highway 171 west of Webb City was slowed to a crawl – or rather the speed of a 4-wheeler tugging a 70-year-old jet – for a short time after rush hour Monday morning.

The 1952 Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, a jet trainer, has been overlooking Joplin Regional Airport from the southeast corner of the highway and Prairie Flower Road for nine years.

“It’s been a really good landmark” for Planeview Auto Sales, said owner Jason Gaskill, as the plane’s wingspan was being shortened by removing the gas tanks on each tip so it would fit through the fence at its new home 6 tenths of a mile away.

Jason went to Ontario, Ore., in 2013 to hopefully come home with a jet similar to those used by the Blue Angels. The bids went too high for that at the auction of decommissioned military aircraft, but he could afford the T-33, also known as a T-bird.

Now that Jason and his wife, Debbie, are planning to move to the lake, he said he wanted to make sure the T-bird was taken care of.

He donated it to the Joplin Freedom of Flight Museum, which is located in the former terminal of Joplin Regional Airport.

Jason is making the donation in honor of several members of his family, including Sam Gaskill, a retired Air Force colonel who flew and F-4 in Vietnam, and uncle who raised him, Jim Gaskill, who was known to be vertigo immune as a student pilot.

He especially pays tribute to Dorothy “One Dress Dorothy” Felkins Gaskill, who took on the responsibility of raising her 12 younger siblings. “She inspired the work ethic and integrity in her children through public service and education,” Jason said.

Highway 171 drivers haven’t seen the last of the T-bird. After some restoration, the plan is for it to be displayed at the commercial aircraft entrance to the airport at Dennis Weaver Drive.

Jason Gaskill (right) and one of his uncles, Sam Gaskill, before the T-Bird was moved from Plainview Auto Sales.

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