Klamath Falls, Ore. – A piece of history will soon be coming in for a landing at the Crater Lake / Klamath Regional Airport.
Air tankers are a valuable tool in putting out wildfires – but flying them isn’t without risk.
The Tanker 61 Memorial in Klamath Falls helps to educate the public.
“It’s to pay tribute to a couple of pilots that were based here.” Explains Marcia Cavin. “Their tanker crashed in 1992.”
Leonard Martin and Charles ‘Chuck’ Sheridan were killed when their Tanker 61 crashed while fighting a fire in northern California.
“This memorial was created originally for them, as a tribute to them.” Notes Tanker Base Manager Don Cavin. “It’s become something of a learning center that we’re trying to create.”
Marcia Cavin says the memorial will soon be getting a retired Lockheed PV2 ‘Neptune’ for a static display. “These planes have been around – they used to hunt subs in World War 2 – and they’re beautiful.”
Cavin adds the plane is one of six being retired and donated for display nationwide. “I found out about it last August, and we applied for it, and got a call in January – and they said, ‘Hey, you’re getting an airplane.”
Crater Lake / Klamath Regional Airport Business Manager Linda Tepper is looking forward to the plane’s arrival. “What we’re trying to do is educate people on fire management, fire fighting, and I think that this static, the Neptune is going to be a great addition.”
Marcia Cavin says the tanker could be arriving soon. “We may only get a 4 day notice that they’re delivering – so, it’s any time now.”
“And it is a fantastic honor to be able to have it stationed here.” Adds Don Cavin.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.