Carson Valley Correspondence – November 2018


Minden-Tahoe Airport Aviation Roundup 2018

My husband and I were given two V.I.P. passes to “Aviation Roundup,” thanks to Carson Valley Visitors Authority.  While I have attended several “air shows” over the years, I have never had the opportunity to attend our Carson Valley event. The last airshow I attended was mediocre. Therefore I didn’t have high expectations for anything other than the famous Blue Angels Naval Aerobatics Team. So I thought the day would be at least worth it, just to see them and spend time with my husband … or so I thought!

Okay, I’ve had to eat my own words several times since I moved from Lake Tahoe to Carson Valley. For example, I didn’t think I was going to be able to live in harmony with sagebrush, but now I absolutely love the scent of it and preserve it year after year for my personal use.  I’ll be the first to tell you that from the moment we drove into the parking lot at the Minden-Tahoe Airport on Saturday, October 13, I must have uttered the phrase “Wow!” 100 times or more that day. My husband finally advised me to close my mouth before I started catching flies.

I could not fathom the constant stream of people lining up to enter this two-day event.  I learned attendance for this event is usually 30-40 thousand people! Are you kidding me?  Here, in Carson Valley? I also learned that the Blue Angels contacted Bobbi Thompson, the manager of the Minden-Tahoe Airport, and “asked” if they could participate this year!  Wow! At 4,722 feet, the air is actually thinner in Carson Valley than other airshows they perform at, which adds an entirely new challenge to their performance and maneuvers. Here’s more information on the airport itself:

Okay, so once inside I found there was really a lot to see.  There were of course vendors selling food and beer. There were also information booths such as the Carson Valley Visitors Authority selling T-Shirts and Soaring NV, which offers glider rides.  All of our armed forces were prominently represented, and there were even booths honoring Veterans, such as W.A.V.E., which stands for “Welcome All Veterans Everywhere,” and a Korean War Veterans booth which I stopped at, since my father and uncle were veterans of that war.  The Navy Band rocked and served as live entertainment before and up to the moment the actual airshow began.

There were planes and a few helicopters on display from several different eras.  Many were accessible to the public to climb into and sit where pilots sat, to imagine what it was like to fly the plane or helicopter, and to meet and talk with pilots and crew who had actually flown them.

Bill Chernock, Executive Director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, greeted us at the V.I.P. tent, and we sat down to enjoy a “front and center” view of what was to become one of the most memorable events of my life in Carson Valley. By chance, we ended up sitting with some friends who were retired service and domestic airline pilots, John Engles and Craig Brown.  Politics aside, Senator Dean Heller and Governor hopeful Adam Laxalt joined us and greeted everyone. I was also aware of the number of families attending. I thought what a great opportunity for young people to see where service in the military can lead you. I mean, if you play your cards right, look at the toys you get to play with!

When the actual airshow festivities commenced, the Carson Valley Middle School Band played the National Anthem and a plane flew over displaying our Stars and Stripes.  From that point on it was one “wow” after another!

Let me share with you some of the airshow high points.  The Ghost Squadron was an all-volunteer air force that demonstrated flying P-51 Mustangs and Mitchell Bombers.  Gill Stein flew his especially painted jet which changes colors with the direction in which the light catches the plane.  He performed his maneuvers while the event announcer broadcasted their interaction from the cockpit. So while Gill was rolling his plane in every direction, he was explaining to us what it was he was doing!

One of the Army’s jumper units known as the “Black Daggers” displayed a POW/MIA flag as he drifted towards the tarmac. We also watched  Kirby Chandlis of the Red Bull team, which was one of the sponsors of the event, show off his skills in his plane, and Aaron Fitzgerald of the same team showed everyone that his helicopter could do trick maneuvers that were previously unheard of for a helicopter.

And then came the Blue Angels.  How fun was this? We sang “Happy Birthday” to the Navy! They were originally established on October 13 of 1775. They prepped their performance by checking for FOD (Foreign Object Debris) on the field.  Their announcer knew every crew member by name and origin. I wanted to hire him as he was such an excellent speaker!

I’ll be perfectly honest: I could not get any photo shots of the Blue Angels with my little camera … they were just too fast!  Are you kidding me? I looked back at every photo I took, and it was just “blue sky”. However, my friend JT Humphrey did get awesome photos, and here’s the link to his photography page of the day.

This was the Blue Angels’ 55th performance of 2018.  The Blue Angels began performing in 1946, and they are the oldest performing military aeronautics team. They are now performing in Boeing FA18 Hornets. Their Facebook page is

After the grand finale of the Blue Angels’ performance, we headed back to our car and home in Genoa, literally in a fog, talking about this plane and that jet and the helicopter, and what maneuvers they could perform.  And for several days after, I reflected on the entire event. It dawned on me that, here in Carson Valley, we just seem to be the place to come to for premiere events. From the Cowboy Festival and Candy Dance Festival in Genoa, to the Harvest Festival at the Corley Ranch, there is always something for everyone to do here.  There are plenty of choices for lodging and dining, so actually you never really have to leave the Valley! Wait — you will probably want to head out to Topaz Lake and dine at the Topaz Lodge where you can overlook the lake.

Anyway, my point is this: I usually try to write about all that can be done in Carson Valley each month of the year. However, the Minden-Tahoe Aviation Roundup was too much fun and too important to Carson Valley to not report on. You see, I know first-hand that Carson Valley really knows how to put on events that everyone loves to attend.

Why Carson Valley?  Well why not?!

Come see for yourself, and if you missed Aviation Roundup this year then make sure it is on your calendar for 2019, as it happens around the same time each year.

History is made every moment, every hour and every day, by every one of us.  Make our history count …. keep it alive!

— Kim Harris