Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 16, 2003

Buzzing the skies in Howard Lake in the 1940s

By Lynda Jensen

The blue skies of Howard Lake used to be home to a fair number of local pilots flying single engine planes, especially in the late 1940s.

Cessnas, Piper Cubs, and Taylorcrafts are among planes that skimmed the skies.

Some planes were from war surplus, but all provided recreation and travel for those who used them.

In fact, one pilot, Dick Klucas, used his plane to deliver the mail along Route 1 when the weather got tough.

Klucas would fly low over farm houses with his plane, circling back when residents walked outside to greet him. He would fly over the house again, and drop their mail he packaged previously.

He delivered mail along Route 1 for 42 years ­ at times on skis, by plane or on foot, according to the March 24, 1977 Herald, which recorded his death.

Klucas was a World War I veteran who died of a heart attack at the age of 81 in Arizona.

Other pilots in the area included Gordon Diers, who operated a Taylorcraft single engine plane in the '40s.

Pilots normally used a small airfield east of Cokato, near Smith Lake, but they could land on just about anything, Diers said.

A single engine plane can attain heights of up to 10,000 feet; although most of the time they stay in the 1,000 foot range, Diers said.

Fellow pilot Melvin Frank remembers the flying days as well, saying they would land on frozen lakes with skis. He owned several different kinds of planes at one time or another, including a Taylorcraft like Diers.

Klucas used to keep his plane at Frank's farm, located southwest of Howard Lake.

As young men in their 20s, Diers and Frank once took a trip to Florida in a single engine plane, Frank said.

There were other trips, too, he said.

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