Friday, May 30, 2008

"When you make it to Google Earth, you've arrived."

I added the pictures, but the story is pure, unadulterated Arkansas.

SPRINGDALE : Rooftop plane makes last flight off McDonald’s
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2008

SPRINGDALE — An engineless airplane on the roof of a Mc-Donald’s propelled its last customers through the restaurant’s front door on Thursday.

Owners Bill Mathews and Walter Mathews are removing the Piper Seneca that’s rested on metal posts above the roof since the store opened in 1994.

Two factors led to the decision: The fast-food chain encouraged the brothers to remodel their local restaurants, and liability became a concern after a rudder snapped off in high wind three months ago.

“The restaurant is going to be a ‘Forever Young’ design,” said Bill Mathews, referring to the chain’s current branding campaign. “That plane was showing its wear.”

Customers and store employees were disappointed to see the plane with Ronald Mc-Donald riding proudly on the fuselage lifted by a crane and put down on the parking lot. The restaurant was closed temporarily while the crane moved the plane.

“When they do something like this, people ought to have a right to vote on it,” said Audrey Harris, a Springdale resident who eats breakfast at the McDonald’s every Thursday. “That’s how we tell people where to turn to get to our house. It’s a landmark. Now, what am I supposed to do?”

Indeed, the restaurant most commonly referred to as the “airplane McDonald’s” just down the road from the Springdale Municipal Airport has served as a regional compass for years, guiding people to the used car lots, pizza restaurants and other businesses on Robinson Avenue east of Arkansas 265.

The brothers knew their store, with its unique decoration, had become a landmark for locals and businesses.

“It’s served its purpose,” Walter Mathews said. “It’s like one of your kids growing up and going off to college.”

Still, Bertha Murillo fretted about getting customers to her job at a neighboring used car lot.

“We’re going to have a harder time giving directions to people who call,” said Murillo, who works at the Pine Meadow Auto Plex. “We don’t even have to say we’re on East Robinson Avenue because everyone knows where that McDonald’s is.”

A giant chicken and turkey just up the street in front of Four State Poultry Supply Inc. might be just the ticket for those seeking a different compass. Each standing 14 feet tall, the fiberglass birds are nearly a mile west of the airplane McDonald’s and have been in place for 30 years.

“If you go to Google Earth on the Internet, it’s a big chicken and big turkey that’s on there in Springdale,” said Ron Day, one of the supply company’s owners. “It doesn’t say ‘airplane.’ When you make it to Google Earth, you’ve arrived.”

Popeye, a statue near the Allen Canning Co. plant on Thompson Avenue, declined comment.

The McDonald’s corporate honchos knew of the rooftop airplane. A vice president from Dallas often commented about it, telling Bill Mathews “you Mathews boys are nuts” when the topic came up.

Walter Mathews, a former aircraft mechanic, pieced the halfton plane together from parts found at a salvage yard near Kansas City, Mo., with the propellers purchased in Clinton.

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