7th Jul 2012
The published schedule for the 2012 Truckee Air Show led us to believe that a whole load of interesting aircraft would be arriving at Truckee-Tahoe airport early on Saturday morning, so we set our alarms and were out of the house just after 06:30. Needless to say, we were able to get ourselves a very good parking spot at the airfield...
Truckee-Tahoe is quite typical of a small municipal airport in the USA. I discovered that it has a main runway just 26metres shorter than the one at London Luton. Unlike Luton, Truckee-Tahoe also has a second runway – and it’s a couple of miles from a town with a population of less than 20,000… US aviators just don’t know how good their life is!
Having got to the airport so early, imagine our disappointment at finding that many of the aircraft had actually flown in the previous day, so we could have stayed in our pit for an hour or so longer. Nevertheless, we were still able to see several interesting historical aircraft arrive and park up for the static display.
Americans take their old machinery very seriously and obviously spend a lot of time and money restoring and improving planes, cars, trucks and so on. One of the aircraft we saw arrive was a Seabee, a small amphibious plane that first flew in 1945. It’s changed a bit since then, with a new, more powerful, engine and a whole load of other modifications that have turned it into a really nice little machine. During my conversation with its lady owner, I remarked that the work must have been quite costly. Her reply was, “It’s not really the cost, it’s the time it takes.” Soon after that, I overheard a comment made by another pilot about the three planes he owns! Mmm…
As had been made clear in the adverts for the event, this wasn’t an Air Display, simply a good day out for all the family. And it certainly was – the place was packed. But, apart from the P51 Mustang take a few more people on joy-rides (a thousand dollars for 15 minutes), there wasn’t much happening in the sky after midday. So after a quick lunch, accompanied by the occasional sounds of a 1940’s Merlin engine, we headed off for a look at Donner Lake.
We took the old historic Route 40 to Donner Lake, the route winds around the lake and then up high so that from the summit you have the most spectacular views across it. This is serious skiing country in the winter months. Many stories abound about a fateful group of California bound emigrant travellers crossing Donner Pass in their wagons in the 1840’s, and some of these suggest that they resorted to cannibalism when their supplies ran out. Rumour has it that it’s better than MacDonalds, but neither of these stories can be substantiated…