SIDEWALKING: Big Ol’ Jet Aeroliner

Grumman’s Greenhouse, Lenfest Plaza, PAFA, 7:01 PM Tue. by JEFF FUSCO

ASSOCIATED PRESS: It was born as a military aircraft, enjoyed a second career as a firefighting plane and is settling into its golden years as a piece of public art after a close call with the scrap heap. “Grumman Greenhouse” is a decommissioned military plane that was being sold for scrap in Alabama when 27-year-old artist Jordan Griska purchased it with a more noble fate in mind. Its new home is next door to his alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in a new plaza it shares with some pretty weighty company: Claes Oldenburg’s massive illuminated paintbrush. The Grumman S2F Tracker was an anti-submarine aircraft flown by the Navy between 1954 and 1976. Griska’s plane spent its post-military life in California as a firefighting plane until it was retired and ended up on eBay earlier this year. Griska was the sole bidder. “It’s $40,000 to install it – that’s something like an eighth of what I paid for the plane,” Griska said during a break Tuesday in the installation, a delicate operation involving a crane, ropes, ladders and nearly a dozen workers painstakingly reassembling the craft in its outdoor location. “I spent more on rivets than it cost to buy the plane.” Placed on a low platform nose-first, tail in the air, the 18,000-pound plane looks more like it tripped and fell than crash-landed. It is intact but reconfigured, like origami, with its nose and belly being fashioned into greenhouses that will yield seasonal herbs, vegetables and flowers year-round. MORE

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