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Display honors military flight that enabled heart transplant

FARGO, N.D. — A highly-publicized North Dakota Air National Guard flight to bring an infant’s heart to a waiting transplant patient in California more than 30 years ago is set to be showcased in Fargo.

The flight of the F-4 Phantom, a supersonic fighter, took place in December 1986 after a Lear jet flown from California to Fargo to pick up the heart broke down in cold weather. The flight took place on emergency orders from North Dakota Gov. George Sinner, who died last year.

The pilot, current North Dakota Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Bob Becklund, flew the golf-ball sized organ to Stanford Medical Center.

KFGO radio reports that the heart recipient, now 33, lives in the San Francisco area.

The “Heart Flight” display will be unveiled later this month at the Fargo Air Museum.

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