Airline Mechanics Take Damaged Rooster Under Their Wing

Inside a restricted area at the Northwest Airlines maintenance base in Duluth, a famous rooster is under repair.

The 8-foot, 100-pound fiberglass fowl, a fixture on the western end of Two Harbors for nearly four decades, was damaged last week when unknown vandals stole it and tossed it off a bridge along Duluth's Seven Bridges Road. It smashed against rocks beneath the bridge.

On Monday, a team of airline mechanics from Duluth picked up the battered bird and took it to their repair facilities. Volunteering their own time and using donated materials from the airline, the mechanics hope to have the bird back on its perch along Minnesota Highway 61 within two or three weeks.

The bird is being rebuilt with the same state-of-the-art fiberglass and composite material found on the belly of DC-9 aircraft, said Dave Wasilowski, an operations manager at the maintenance base.

"I've got more guys volunteering to help than I know what to do with," Wasilowski said. "That's a landmark chicken. It's just something we all wanted to do. No one wants any recognition for it. We just thought it was something nice we could do for the community."

The case of the kidnapped chicken is still under investigation. Two Harbors Police Chief Rick Hogenson said Wednesday he was awaiting evidence gathered and a statement taken by a police officer in Duluth.

"We've saved evidence from the chicken for lab analysis later on," Hogenson said. "Maybe with that and with that statement we can turn the corner on this thing and make an arrest.

"There was a lot of damage done," the chief said. "That's why this is getting so much of our attention. It's not like someone just left it in the ditch to be found later."

Publication Date: 05/05/2003