By Jonathan Gallardo
Gillette News Record
Via Wyoming News Exchange
GILLETTE — The next time you’re in the terminal at the Gillette-Campbell County Airport, look up.
Over the Indian riding bareback hunting a bison and the pronghorn grazing next to a windmill you’ll see vintage planes engaged in a dogfight straight out of World War I.
The Gillette Sage Hoppers RC Club spent several hours Friday cleaning and hanging five model planes to keep history alive, commemorate some of their former members and instill a love for airplanes in everyone who walks under them.
Several years ago, the club hung a model B-17 Flying Fortress and a P-51 Mustang, arguably the two most iconic U.S. planes from World War II. And Friday, the club was back at it again, hanging a Piper Super Cub, an L-4 Grasshopper and a Taube, an early Austrian plane.
But the two most recognizable planes are the Fokker Triplane and the Sopwith Camel, famously flown by Snoopy in his imaginary battles with the Red Baron.
Last summer, Jack Adsit, the group’s vice president, was at the funeral of Charlie Davis, a former member, when he came up with the idea of pooling money and buying the Piper Super Cub from Davis’ estate and donating the money to his widow. While at the funeral, Adsit spoke with member Dick Rindels about hanging his L-4 Grasshopper at the airport.
Rindels liked the idea.
Rindels died in February, but his family liked the idea of hanging the airplane, so they gave it to the club.
They hung the Triplane and the Sopwith next to each other to make it look like the planes were engaged in battle, but it “depends on which way the air turns whether they’ll be chasing each other or not,” Adsit said.
Along with continuing the legacy of the club’s former members, the project gives the planes new life. Adsit said his Triplane was facing a less dignified destiny.
“I thought more people would enjoy it hanging out there rather than me hauling it out to the landfill,” he said. “It’s a nice place to bring public awareness to the hobby.”
Adsit said it will probably be the last time the club hangs model airplanes at the airport because the space inside the terminal is crowded, but members have plenty of other airplanes to work on. Adsit said he has close to 30 model airplanes, so “I’ll have enough to keep me busy until I croak.”
Club member Bill Olson gathered information about each of the planes, which will be displayed at the airport so people can learn a little bit of history. He said he’s amazed at how many people don’t know about the old planes.
“I don’t think we teach enough history,” he said, adding that “a lot of those old-timers, the last thing they want to do is talk about what went on over there.”
Adsit’s hope is that when people walk through the terminal and look up it will ignite in them an interest in airplanes, whether they’re 7 years old or 70.
“That’s what we’re after,” he said. “You don’t know at what age you plant the seed that grows.”