The fighter plane in the parking lot

I was driving home up I39 from Terre Haute this morning, got off to fill up the tank on Il 17, and saw this in the lot right next to the BP station. At first I thought it was a Mig 17 or 19, but it’s an F84 Thunderstreak, if the name under the cockpit is accurate. It looks right from other pics I looked up.

I also found a reference to it in Roadside America.. No one seems to know where it came from or why it’s there. You can see that someone gave up maintaining the old paint scheme and just painted it what looks like Army Green. The RA site has it correctly identified (I think) at the top, and incorrectly so by the next 2 comments

There is s small sign behind the plane, but it was too damn small to read from the car and too damn cold to get out of the car. I opened the window just enough to stick out the phone and snap the pic of the plane. I thought I would find an explanation online, but no luck so far.

Huh. It’s not far from Rantoul, Illinois - the former location of Chanute AFB. Chanute had been a training base, including aircraft maintenance, and they had a large collection of display aircraft - basically, aircraft that had been taken apart and put together again so often they couldn’t be used for that anymore, or were totally obsolete. *

Anyway, I’m thinking maybe one of those planes ended up in Wenona, somehow - surplussed out, and bought by some restaurateur, maybe?

*source: my Dad was stationed there in the late 70s, and I still remember just how many planes were cluttering up the grounds. About everything from a P-51 to a couple of B-52s just sitting around, painted up (more or less) correctly.

Back in the 70’s some playgrounds had an ancient fighter on static display.

Yes, the tiny fighters of the 50’s re-purposed as toys for children. A jarring thought.
I know of 2 such playgrounds, so they must have been common.

Cold or no, I would’ve gotten out for a closer look, but I work 10+ hours a day in a giant refrigerator so YMMV. That’s a seriously cool thing to stumble on.

The F-84 started out straight winged. Later they put swept wings on them. That’s what’s in that photo.

Off to the north side of I-30 in Texas closer to Texarkana than Dallas there’s a surplus store with an F-111 parked in front. And off the north side of US-80 East of Dallas, between I-635 (LBJ) and I-20, there’s a Mig 15 in a parking lot.

Airframes for static display are available for civilian purchase. I don’t know what hoops you need to go through to get one but if you’re serious, it’s possible. Certainly anything useful has been removed and all you’re getting would be an airframe (the body), a canopy, and the undercarriage.

In our landlocked province, with only one access road, lying on top of the mountain where you have a giant statue of the Virgin Mary, were at least three navy torpedoes. Sleek, with their aluminum tubes and tail fins hardly dented. There was still a red and white sticker warning you of explosive materials inside. The province has no airfield at the moment, though there may have been during the war.

My school had a decommissioned fighter on the playground - I think we got it in 1959 or '60. It was ALWAYS the best thing to play on, from first grade through high school. I was really disappointed when they took it out sometime in the 70’s.

It wasn’t as random as it sounds; the school served primarily Air Force off-base housing and nearly all of us were AFbrats. Many of our fathers flew the jets; others armed them and still others maintained them.

Playground planes are awesome. Here’s one from near me. Sadly they had to replace the original plane with a fiberglass replica last year.

I’m from that area ('bout 60 miles east) and had no idea this was there.

This badass is pretty close to where I live.

I don’t remember any planes on playgrounds, but one that I went to as a kid still has a Sherman tank. It was fun to climb on!

That is a badass.

The wings on an F-104 don’t look big enough to be functional as lifting devices, more like steering devices.

If you’re in that neighborhood sometime, it would be great if you could take a look at the signs and post something about what it says. I could see there was a pic of some air force guy who presumably flew either this plane or one like it, but that’s all I could tell. I was woefully underdressed for the weather so I didn’t get out of the nice warm car.

The wings on an F-104 were optimized for supersonic flight. They weren’t quite so good when used at slower speeds, like when doing something silly like maybe landing the plane. However, since pilots generally do tend to insist on being able to land their planes, they added a thing called a boundary layer control system to help reduce the stall speed from ridiculously high to silly but manageable high. The boundary control layer system basically took air that was bled off from the engine and blew it over the flaps.

Wikipedia article for those who want the gory details:

Here’s a rather exciting story from one pilot who had problems with the BLC system:

Getting back to the OP, I just came across this the other day:

F-106. It’s got the coke bottle shaped fuselage. They didn’t know about the area rule until after they flew the F-102 and it didn’t fly nearly as fast as it did on paper.

I grew up in suburban SoCal. Our local park had an F-9F Panther parked in a sand pit. This was the early 1960s. It still had some blue paint but much had been scrubbed off by tiny bottoms sliding down the parts lubricated by all the sand.

They even left in some of the instruments, so there were lots of nooks & crannys and sharp edges that kids could get cut on. But nobody did, and nobody minded. It was still there when I graduated from college ~20 years later, a bit worse for wear, but still largely intact.

Sometime in the late 1980s it disappeared and a concrete blob of about the same shape appeared in its place.

Google Earth tells me now that the park has been redeveloped a time or two since then, with more parking lots & buildings (a library?) and less trees and grass and playground equipment. But a plane-shaped object of about the right shape is still there in about the same place it always was.

It’s satisfying to know that after 50+ years it’s still there.

When I was little in the '60s, we’d visit my grandmother in Anaheim and often wind up at Boysen Park. I played on a concrete-covered airplane then. It’s still there.

No idea when I’ll be around Illinois 17 again but I’ll try to keep it in mind. It’s about halfway between some of my relatives.

There is a fighter plane up on posts along Interstate 80 just west of Omaha

But the OP wants to know why this particular one is there.

Here she is being lifted from Peoria

It was given to the American Legion and put there at Wenona in May 1971
Monpellier’s Legion got theirs a few weeks before.