EAA Member Organizes Bud Anderson Visit for Local Airport

Morris Garcia, EAA 1187602, was talking to an associate of his when he heard the name Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson mentioned. Morris immediately recognized the name of the iconic World War II triple ace and sought out a way to contact Bud.

He was able to get a hold of his son, who then connected Morris with the Colonel himself. Morris had a request: Could Bud come down to the Fresno area for some airport appearances?

“I called Bud, and he said, ‘Yeah, shoot, I’ll come up there,’” Morris said. “That’s all there was to it.”

Morris is the president of the Central Valley Aviation Association, a group formed in 1968 by pilots in the Fresno area to ensure Fresno Chandler Executive Airport would remain open and active. Morris said CVAA frequently works with the local EAA Chapter 376 because they have similar missions.

“CVAA is very active, and of course EAA is too,” he said. “We’re working together, both of us, because we have the same goals to a certain extent, so it works out real well.”

This was one occasion where the two groups worked together seamlessly. Morris and a friend flew in two airplanes to pick up Bud and give him a chance to fly back to Fresno.

“We flew up in two airplanes,” Morris said. “One was a Beechcraft Staggerwing, and the other was a Cessna 172. We picked him up at Auburn. We landed there, had a late breakfast with him, and then we flew back to Fresno.”

Bud, EAA 563333, first gave a presentation on Friday, before retiring for the evening. On Saturday, he and Morris went to Chandler Airport and prepared for the festivities of the day.

“We took him on a little trip around Fresno, then he made a grand entrance with a flyby and a peel off in the Staggerwing over Sky Park Airport, which is a little private airport on the north end of Fresno,” Morris said.

Sierra Sky Park Airport is home to Chapter 376, and was one of the first residential air parks when it opened in 1946. Chapter and CVAA members and local residents showed up in droves to see Bud, with more than 120 people in attendance.

Upon landing in the Staggerwing, a 1941 Cadillac limousine was there to collect Bud, complete with the driver dressed in chauffeur attire. Once he arrived at the hangar, the crowd was there to greet him, as was a red carpet and classic Air Force music accompanying the cheers. 

In an interview with local news station ABC 30, Bud said the event was “the best reception of his life.”

Bud sold nearly 100 copies of his book, To Fly and Flight: Memoirs of a Triple Ace. The event worked out beautifully for all parties involved.

“It was a really nice weekend, and I think he had a really good time,” Morris said. “The people in Fresno really appreciated him coming down. Both the EAA chapter and the Central Valley Aviation Association had a nice turnout. It was an honor to have him here.”

Photos by Tim Sowell, EAA 879692

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