New location for Owatonna’s Three T-38 Talon “Thunderbird” Jets
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member beagle39z
N 44° 07.260 W 093° 14.882
15T E 480154 N 4885342
Originally located at Owatonna's Heritage Halls museum, it was later moved to Owatonna's Degner Regional Airport.
Waymark Code: WM1TPZ
Location: Minnesota, United States
Date Posted: 07/08/2007
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Team GeoDuo
Views: 204

In 1996, the City of Owatonna acquired one of these jet planes from the U.S. Air Force to be used as a monument at the airport. The cost of the project exceeded the City’s budget at that time, and the plane was put in storage.

In 1997, R.W. “Buzz” Kaplan proposed that the plane become part of a signature display outside Heritage Halls Museum, which was ¼ mile north of the airport. Buzz thought the display should consist of three planes flying formation. The City proceeded to acquire two more jets from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

Painted a drab military color, the aircraft were stripped of nearly 2,000 pounds of excess weight and repainted in authentic Thunderbird colors. Heritage Halls’ officials worked more than a year to help acquire and design the display and believe there is none other like it in the world.

Engineers spent several months creating a design for the display that would withstand the high winds that sometimes sweep through this area. The present design was settled on which withstood 113 miles-per-hour winds when tested in a wind tunnel.

It was an undertaking of great proportion. Each 12,500-pound plane is 46 feet, 4 inches long. Steel I-beams through the tailpipes are mounted to the pylons 3 feet in length. Due to the curvature of the display their noses are 70 feet high in the air. The base is constructed of 308 tons of concrete and steel with 6 ½ foot anchor bolts extending through the base.

These jet aircraft were on display in this bomb-burst formation at the Heritage Halls Museum from 1998 to 2006 without cost to the City of Owatonna. It was the dream of Heritage Halls founder R. W. “Buzz” Kaplan to create a breathtaking realistic display of aerobatic flight and to honor our United States fighter pilots who help protect our great country.

After the Heritage Halls museum closed in 2001, the future of the museum was unclear, and the City of Owatonna felt the planes should be moved. The Owatonna (Degner) Regional Airport was the natural and appropriate location for the jets. Buzz Kaplan had spent many hours at this airport flying and restoring antique aircraft. Now, thanks to many people, these planes will be Owatonna’s landmark greeting to visitors for many years to come.

If you look closely, pilots of tail #1 are: R.W. "Buzz" Kaplan and Betty "Bunns" Kaplan.
Pilots of tail #2 are: MaryAlice "Bunky" Hanson and Capt. Jim "Cool Hand" Hanson.
Type of Aircraft: (make/model): T-38 "Talon"

Tail Number: (S/N): cannot read in the I-Phone image

Construction:: clone

Location (park, airport, museum, etc.): Owatonna Degner Regional Airport

inside / outside: outside

Other Information::
Had a nice trip with Annes2 to Rochester to visit a friend who's dad was getting treatment. TFTW

Access restrictions:
Only climb as high as your kids will allow you.

Visit Instructions:
Photo of aircraft (required - will be interesting to see if the aircraft is ever repainted or progress if being restored)
Photo of serial number (required unless there is not one or it is a replica)
Photo(s) of any artwork on the aircraft (optional but interesting)

Tell why you are visiting this waymark along with any other interesting facts or personal experiences about the aircraft not already mentioned.
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