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More than benches and trees: an upcoming public park gets an Air Force fighter jet

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The park will feature a one-third-scale model of the F-22 Raptor.

Its primary function: “air dominance.” Its top speed: Mach 2. Its cost: $143 million. Its new home: the Thunderbird Family Sports Complex in Centennial Hills.

On July 9, construction entered Phase 2 for the Raptor Play Park, an addition to the existing park at Tropical and Durango that will feature a one-third-scale model of the U.S. Air Force’s favorite stealth fighter jet—the F-22 Raptor—alongside new landscaping, benches and a shaded picnic area.

I can just imagine parents chatting while kids play in the shadow of a plane that can track, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before its targets even know it’s there. And the F-22, used by Nellis’ 57th Wing Squadron has supercruise capability, meaning it can chug along at supersonic speeds without using afterburners, continuing to dominate the not-so-friendly skies long after lesser planes have to gas back up.

Scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2013, the Raptor Play Park is meant to pay tribute to the local Air Force community, along with the nearby Viper Lacrosse Fields (named for the F-16 Viper) and a future site to be named after the F-16 squadron at Nellis, America’s Ambassadors in Blue, the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds. As the Air Force fact sheet for the F-22 Raptor says, it “cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft.” But soon it can be the site of your picnic lunch.

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