Memorial Rock

TTSA Pilots Memorial Rock - The Rock, containing 25 engraved names, was formally dedicated Sunday May 25th (Memorial Day Weekend). Over 30 people attended the ceremony, including Claire Sebald (widow of Les Sebald…the “father” of TTSA and a legendary Sierra glider pilot), and Kathleen Cunningham (widow of Dave Cunningham). Claire actually arrived with several generations in tow: her daughter June, June’s son Chris (a former line boy), and Chris’ son Michael (age 13, who might begin working the line next year).

The ceremony, held after a perfect Truckee soaring day, began with the lowering of the American flag by USN Commander (ret.) Greg (Shifty) Peairs, formally Operations Officer at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at NAS Fallon,  NV.  Commander Peairs is no stranger to TTSA and word has it that he’ll be flying rides as well as doing some administrative duties this summer.

TTSA President Richard Pearl remarked that the impetus for the Rock was the Memorial Grove at Air Sailing, Inc., and that memorials are bridges from the past to the present and into the future. The names of the pilots on the Rock were read, and many people participated in telling short vignettes about those honored. TTSA General Manager Jan Driessen noted that many of the listees were part of the “Greatest Generation”, participating in aviation WW II service. Eric Niedrauer spoke about his dad Jerry, and Ed “DoDo Bird” Lord gave a moving remembrance about Dave “Mallard” Cunningham, who did so much for NCSA, Air Sailing, and TTSA. Tony Gaechter spoke about an existing monument plaque located in his campground site honoring U.S. Army Sgt. Conling Chen. Sgt Chen was a jumpmaster to the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and participated in many Special Forces training exercises held at our TTSA site over several winters in the 1980’s. Sgt. Chen died in a car accident in 1986.

Richard read a passage from the Old Testament: Isaiah 40:13 (“…they shall mount up with wings like eagles…”), and recited John Gillespie Magee, Jr.’s poem High flight (“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-filled wings…And with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod the high, un-trespassed sanctity of space and put out my hand and touched the face of God”).

Penny Pearl sang America the Beautiful, and Commander Peairs concluded the ceremony with a raising of the Flag. Everyone then retired for a commemorative libation.

The Rock was funded entirely with private donations. TTSA would like to thank: Willy Snow, Charlie Westernin, Mike Green, Jan Driessen, Eric Niedrauer, David Anisman, David Klinger, Tom Hubbard, David Greenhill, Larry Suter, Sergio Colacvech, Ed Lord, Monique Weil, Jim Alton, and Richard Pearl. There will, of course, be names added to the Rock as time unfolds, and additional donations are requested (placed into a special Rock fund). Donations may be sent to TTSA or, even better, dropped off at the TTSA flight office upon conclusion of another fabulous Sierra weekend.

Currently honored:

Les Sebald
Emil Kissel
Charlie Roeschen
Ivren (Skinny) Moore
Vern Chambers
David Cronin
Doug Armstrong
Tom Jona
Joe Findley

Fran Allender
Dave Cunningham
Ken Pruchnick
Steven McRobert
Paul Pencikowski
Ed Thunen
Dick Dillman
Ruben Zelwer
Sergio Colacevich

Fred Frauens
Stan Montagne
Robert Klemmedson
Frank App
Hal Chouinard
Clay Beck
Vic Swierkowski
Jerry Niedrauer
Jim Alton

Bill Gawthrop

Joe Silvestri

To be added as funds permit: Roger Jones, Les Arnold, Robert Todd