Story last updated at 11:35 a.m. Friday, August 2, 2002

Military airlifts Italian sculpture
A 4.5-ton sculpture representing Italian good will was rescued from Seattle and transported to Fairbanks by the Air National Guard last week.

The sculpture is a gift from Fairbanks' sister city of Fanano, Italy, the hometown of Felix Pedro. Pedro's discovery of gold more than 100 years ago helped lead to the founding of Fairbanks.

Representatives from Fanano were on hand in Fairbanks for the presentation, but the sculpture -- titled "Il Ponte," or "The Bridge" -- was not.

Customs paperwork had stranded the stone sculpture in Seattle.

City officials and military workers coordinated efforts to release the sculpture from its quarantine and airlift it to Fairbanks in time for the unveiling.

"This has been one heck of a day," Fairbanks Mayor Steve Thompson said after the sculpture's arrival.

The Air National Guard picked up the sculpture from McChord Air Force Base in Seattle, but a spokesperson credited Eielson Air Force Base Brig. Gen. Bob DeLaney with circumventing the usual two-week period needed to receive clearance.

"It took someone with horsepower," said Air National Guard Lt. Col. Lawrence Appel. "We were glad to help out, but we were just the delivery service."

Thompson was not the only mayor to praise the military for its assistance.

"Without the hard work of all the people, including the mayor and the Air Force, this dream would not be a reality," Alessandro Corsini, the mayor of Fanano, said through a translator. "It is a marvelous thing."

--Fairbanks Daily News-Miner