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A Legacy Continues
By Chris Henry, EAA Lifetime 41434, EAA Museum Programs Representative
December 29, 2016 - EAA’s main goal is to grow participation in aviation. It is able to do so thanks to people who are willing to help create the pathway for individuals to get involved. A shining example of this was the late Gerry Beck, EAA 112405.
Gerry was the founder of Tri-State Aviation in Wahpeton, North Dakota. He specialized in restoring P-51 Mustangs and other warbirds, but many would say that his real specialty was being an ambassador for aviation. Many times he could be found on the floor of the Fargo Air Museum explaining a part of an airplane to kids who showed an interest. Gerry may no longer be here with us, but his legacy will always live on in the lives that he touched and the aircraft he saved.
One such aircraft has just started a new chapter in its existence. The F4U Corsair owned by his wife Cindy and daughter Whitney was taken in for restoration and has completed its test flight. It will be flown by Paul Ehlen on a special mission which Gerry always felt was the most important for these machines – educating youth about World War II.
“He always felt that bringing history to the younger generations and honoring their service was the most important part of restoring these aircraft,” Cindy said. On a snowy December 19, the bold Blue Corsair taxied to the active runway and flew once again. “When it landed I asked the pilot Doug Rozendaal how long the squawk list was. He just replied with ‘very short.’ It was music to my ears,” Cindy said.
The Corsair has a very important mission to preform next; it is to be the backdrop in Whitney’s wedding. With the Corsair at the wedding it will almost be as if Gerry is there looking over his daughter on her special day.