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Owatonna in Steele County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The Story of the Three T-38 Talon Thunderbird Jets

 
 
The Story of the Three T-38 Talon Thunderbird Jets Marker image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, October 1, 2019
1. The Story of the Three T-38 Talon Thunderbird Jets Marker
Inscription.  

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 1/4 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
In Memory of R.W. “Buzz” Kaplan 1924-2002 image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, October 1, 2019
2. In Memory of R.W. “Buzz” Kaplan 1924-2002


His love of aviation and adventure had taken him to the far reaches of the world and was his inspiration for this soaring monument of three Thunderbird jets climbing skyward a tribute to the men and women of our Air Forces.

2002 The Volunteers & Staff of Heritage Halls
proportion. Each 12,500-pound plane is 46 feet, 4 inches long. Steel I-beams through the tailpipes are mounted to the pylons 36 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 1/2 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.
 
Location. 44° 7.26′ N, 93° 14.886′ W. Marker is in Owatonna, Minnesota, in Steele County. Marker is on West Frontage Road (County Road 23) 0.8 miles north of 26 Street NW, on the right when traveling south. Marker is located at the entrance to Owatonna Municipal Airport. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3440 West Frontage Road, Owatonna MN 55060, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The T-38 Talon Thunderbird Jets are moved to Owatonna Degner Regional Airport (a few steps from this marker); Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children
Three T-38 Talon Thunderbird Jets image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk
3. Three T-38 Talon Thunderbird Jets
(approx. 2.2 miles away); Rock Island Railway Station 1901 (approx. 2 miles away); National Farmer's Bank of Owatonna (approx. 2.8 miles away); Medford's Last Carriage Stone (approx. 3.6 miles away); Minnesota State Schools (approx. 9.2 miles away); The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour (approx. 12.2 miles away).
 
Categories. Air & SpaceMilitary
 

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Credits. This page was last revised on October 12, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 11, 2019, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 32 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 11, 2019, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.
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