By Vicki Hillhouse / Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
WALLA WALLA — A relic of the Walla Walla Regional Airport’s history as a World War II Army Air Base will make a bang of a welcome for visitors passing through.
A World War I-era French cannon used by American troops and then later as a salute gun at the air base during the second World War will return to the property as a symbol of history, officials said.
The cannon, restored this year under the funding and coordination of Ron Krause, has been on display in the Entrance Building at Fort Walla Walla Museum. Before the restoration it had been outside.
With space constraints at the museum and a desire to keep the cannon protected from the elements, museum director James Payne approached the Port and Walla Walla Regional Airport about a possible relocation.
The idea was well-received by Port commissioners at their Thursday meeting last week.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Commission President Mike Fredrickson said. “I think it goes back to celebrating our past.”
Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund said she imagines the transport could be complete in the first quarter of the new year.
The challenge is finding the right place to display it.
At 6 feet wide and 16 feet long, it can easily fit inside the terminal building. However, at 2,300 pounds, it can’t exactly sit atop the luggage carousel for display. And hoisting it elsewhere could be an expensive engineering undertaking.
Skoglund and Port Executive Director Patrick Reay most supported keeping it on the ground in the terminal, likely in a spot where passengers deplane and come through the airport as they pass Hidden Valley Bakery.
But the exact juxtaposition is tricky. Officials don’t want guests to walk into the building with the barrel of a cannon staring back. They also want to protect from the kind of interaction that may include curious climbers.
How that will shake out remains to be seen.
“The good news: It will fit through the door,” Skoglund said.
Information from: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, http://www.union-bulletin.com