She may not fly again, but Mabel the Pilot has been found after more than six months missing in action.
The mannequin affectionately named Mabel sat in the cockpit of the U.S. Navy A7E Corsair II on display in Edwardsville Township Park for more than 25 years. The female mannequin wore a flight suit and helmet, ironically dressed and placed long before women were permitted to serve as Navy pilots. In order to keep her visible in the cockpit, Mabel actually sat on a pile of 1980s telephone books, according to township officials.
Police and township officials searched and put out a call for information, but Mabel was not found. The plane was eventually restored with a protective wrap that gave the appearance of a pilot in the cockpit, and later last year, it was restored to its pylon display.
Last week, the Edwardsville Police Department received an anonymous tip regarding Mabel’s whereabouts, and the mannequin was found in an Edwardsville residence. From photographs provided by the Edwardsville Police Department, she appears to be in good condition.
Police said the suspect in the theft is a juvenile resident of Edwardsville, and after conferring with the Madison County State’s Attorney and Edwardsville Township officials, no charges will be filed.
“The Edwardsville Police Department is aware this incident caused alarm and displeasure to many of our residents who saw Mabel as a fixture of the township’s park for many years,” said Lt. Chris Byrne. “It is for this reason we are very pleased to have reached resolution and were able to provide closure to the citizens of our community.”
Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven said Mabel will not be reinstated in the Corsair, but has been returned to the township.
“Mabel is now home and resting comfortably,” said Township Supervisor Fred Schulte. “We are grateful to the Edwardsville Police Department for their diligent work in recovering this important artifact of our aircraft’s history.”
Schulte said they are not sure what will be done with Mabel, but “we’ll find someplace for her ... people would miss her.”