New statue at IND will commemorate Hoosier aviation hero
On Thursday, April 2, the Military / Veterans Coalition of Indiana unveiled a seven-foot tall bronze statue in the likeness of Col. Harvey Weir Cook at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Cook was a pioneer of commercial and military aviation in Indiana who helped found the city’s first principal airport, the Indianapolis Municipal Airport, in 1931. It is today’s Indianapolis International Airport (IND).
Col. H. Weir Cook was born in Wilkinson, Ind., in 1896 and died in New Caledonia, South Pacific in 1943 on a training mission. He was a member of the Hat in the Wing Squadron with Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and was an Ace with seven credited air victories in World War I. Col. Cook also worked on many industrial-related aircraft projects, including building cabin ejection devices in planes.
The statue is placed on prominent display at the center entrance to the Ticketing Hall of the Weir Cook Memorial Terminal.
Artist Bill Wolfe, from Terre Haute, Ind., worked on the sculpture for more than two years. Wolfe also created an artistic representation of Larry Bird at Indiana State University.
Sincerus foundry, located on the east side of Indianapolis, used an investment casting process, also known as a “lost wax process”. Anything wax becomes metal, in this case bronze.
The waysides and kiosks depicting Col. Cook were produced by Coppinger Exhibits, located on the north side of Indianapolis.
Due to concern in an extreme circumstance the sculpture could topple over the glass railing behind it to the baggage claim area, it was recommended to secure the statue in place. However, the airport requested the statue be secured in a way that it could be removed if ever needed.
The airport recommended F.A. Wilhelm Construction to assist with the installation.
The stone block alone weighs 1,000 pounds and the statue is nearly 500 pounds.
Wilhelm Construction superintendents worked with the airport engineer and building inspector, and CSO Associates to design the anchorage.
There was concern for the unknown where the team needed to drill. The team first investigated beneath the floor for anything visibly in the way of the proposed drilling area. Then, Wilhelm’s Quality Control department scanned the floor from the top to check for reinforcing or electrical conduit that could be hidden within the floor. The area checked was clear so the plan could move forward.
Onsite, overnight installation occurred after several emails, phone calls and meetings of planning. The stone, carved by Indiana Limestone Fabricators, and statue were set into place with a gantry crane and chain fall.
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