Minden-Tahoe Airport hosts historic planes
A Norden bombsight, a technological advance in the 1940s, rubbed elbows with 21st Century technology as Denny Morse captured his trip to Carson Valley from the bombadier’s seat of a B-17 Flying Fortress with a GoPro.
Accompanied by a B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell and P-51 Mustang, the B-17 will be on display at the Minden-Tahoe Airport as part of the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour until noon today.
“I have always been into planes,” Morse said. “I have degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. As a kid I watched ‘Twelve O’Clock High’ and was always fascinated with planes.”
As a sponsor, Morse and a guest were invited to fly from Concord, Calif., to Minden aboard the bomber.
Both Morse and his friend, Dave Gehringer have flown in a B-17 before, but over the San Francisco Bay area.
“I sat back in the fuselage where the waist gunner would have been,” Gehringer said. “It was dramatic then; flying over the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was dramatic today flying over the Sierra.”
For the second year in a row, The Wings of Freedom Tour offered an inside look at some of the only surviving planes of their types.
While sitting in the front of the B-17 on his trip to Minden, Morse thought about the plane’s history.
“My thoughts going through my head were of all the sacrifices people made sitting here,” he said. “That was part of the reason why I sponsored the plane. The history and the sacrifices people made in this very plane.”
World War II Navy veteran Stan Evans has never seen the planes landing before.
“I had lived in Tahoe for 30-plus years, but was too busy making a living for my family to come see them,” the 88-year-old said. “I moved to Carson City and I was out a couple of weeks ago and saw a bunch of old bombers. These remind me of the stuff that happened during my childhood.”
Seeing planes that were crucial in the war, reminded Evans of the jump in technology the military has seen over the years.
“It’s amazing to see the difference in technology,” he said. “My oldest son served on a helicopter in Korea. To think of how much that technology would have helped, and how many people we could have saved had we had that technology. It’s a shame it came out only a few years after World War II when they released it.”
Frequent fliers Dennis Geary and Chuck Lacugna came out just because they enjoy it.
“You’re not going to see these planes very often,” Lacugna, a Gardnerville resident said. “These are rare.”
The P-51 Mustang was his favorite.
“It’s fast and very maneuverable,” Lacugna said. “Every chance I get, we’ll come down. They are very close.”
Also a fan of the Mustang, Geary said he enjoys the story each plane carries.
“You don’t see the younger generation out here, which is unfortunate,” the Minden resident said. “They don’t understand the history of these planes. They don’t understand the history of what these planes accomplished.”
The planes will be on display 9 a.m.-noon today.
Walk-through tours of the planes are $12 for adults and $6 for children 12 and younger.
For more information visit http://www.cfdn.org or call 800-568-8924.