We always kept alert in the back seat. A drive to Stonestown or Serramonte or down to the Peninsula for some family holiday event would mean a glimpse of the jet standing in the grass of Larsen Park. My brother and I would beg our parents to stop, just for a little bit, so we could go climb on it, through it, pretend to be pilots or “bad guys” crawling along the wings.
From the 1950s to the early 1990s, three different retired Navy jets served as playground equipment. In 1993, the last, an F-8 Crusader, graffitti-covered and leaking lead, was removed for restoration at the Pacific Coast Air Museum (a continuing effort).
San Francisco Chronicle writer Peter Hartlaub has recently done a very nice piece on the jets.
Now after 20 jet-less years at Larsen Park, a small community group is working to bring a new jet for the climbing pleasure of future generations of Parkside kids (and those traveling through who convince their parents to pull over).
Getting a real Navy jet, and making it playground-safe, is impractical in these more complicated days, so a new structure in the form of a jet with netting fanning out behind like exhaust has been designed. (I declare it pretty cool.) Grants are being found, money still needs to be raised, but Supervisor Carmen Chu and her staff are working hard to get this done.
Join me at a informational meeting Tuesday, May 22, 2012 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm at the Wawona Clubhouse, 901 Wawona Street at 20th Avenue. We’ll hear more about the plan, see the sketches, and maybe I will bring some old photos of the previous planes (anyone have some to share?).