Good bye 2020

Posted on September 23, 2023 by Tim LoDolce

As this simply awful year comes to a close and with it the passing of Norm Moentman it has caused me to reflect on some of our members who have "gone west".

Here is a little history on EAA1073:

Back in 1995 we needed 10 people to pay $100 each to bring an EAA chapter to Truckee Tahoe and I was one of them. At that time I was running our airshow along with working nearly 7 days a week so I was not interested in a board position.

One of the first things we did to get the chapter really going was to address the airport board of directors about renovating the existing dilapidated storage building by using the funds slated for it's demolition (25K) along with soliciting merchants as far away as Reno to donate the items necessary to reconstruct the building and of course finding new EAA members to donate their time and energy to get the job done. Well, it worked and what you see today was a direct result of those efforts.

Which brings to mind Bert Jensen, our oldest member at the time already in his mid 80's but worked 6 days a week on restoring a Staggering Beechcraft (a bi-wing single engine with 650 HP radial engine with retractable gear first built in 1933, could carry 6 people ins style at 212 MPH).

Bert was one of the first people I got to know at the airport when I moved up permanently from Marin County in 1987. Bert was an elf of a man standing no more than 5'3 at the most and always had a welcoming smile on his face.

Having had a hand in building a few aircraft in the past I decided to learn from the master on how to replace the fabric on his project. It was during that time that he told me of his life history. Born in the mid west in 1916 he learned to fly on his own at 17. In 1940 United Airlines hired him where he spent the next 36 years before retiring flying the big jets.

Bert was also an avid skier and mountain climber. In fact, Bert was involved with laying out the ski runs at Jackson Hole. Bert's Run on the ski mountain is name after him. Like I stated Bert was also an accomplished mountaineer having the honor of being the first American to earn a spot as authorized Austrian mountain guide. For many years Bert put together guided skiing tours in Europe was doing this well into his late 80's.

Sadly Bert flew west on June 28th 2008. His wife Barbara of over 50 years was with him as he passed silently during the night.

Bert working on his airplane

Tom Lippert passed along his pictures of a row of Staggerwings we had here at Truckee. The red one on the right in the picture is Bert's and the white on is Baron Hilton's. After our breakfast at the chapter hangar we all flew over the Baron Hiltons ranch called the Flying M just to the west of Yerington, NV.

Bert's Staggerwing

I'll have more on other truly wonderful members in the oncoming months.

Stay safe and wear your mask when you out and about. We'll get past this pandemic hopefully very soon.

Tim El Presidente