R.W. “Buzz”Kaplan: The Life of an Adventurer

A Book by Kristin Kaplan Holsworth

OWATONNA, MINN. – There’s a new series of paperback books out on the life of the late Owatonna pilot, adventurer and industrialist, Reuben W. “Buzz” Kaplan. The author is Kaplan’s granddaughter, Kristin Kaplan Holsworth of St. Paul.

Kaplan’s travels began when he joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Germany in 1943 during World War II. Upon returning home, he earned his pilot certificate and pursued the life of an adventurer.

Kaplan flew his airplanes in more than 75 countries and six continents, winning numerous awards for his flight achievements, including being inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1999. His adventures included a wild game hunt in Africa, numerous Arctic fishing trips, and Friendship Flights to the Soviet Union, Europe, and South America. As part of the Greenland Expedition, he worked to recover airplanes from the Lost Squadron, buried 270 feet below the Greenland ice cap.

Kaplan’s airplane restoration company, Born Again Restorations, rebuilt a Savoia-Marchetti flying boat, which became the oldest Italian airplane in operation. In 1988, he landed the aircraft on Lake Geneva, Switzerland – a first since 1912 – and in 1990, he flew it around the Statue of Liberty. Kaplan’s adventures made headlines and friendships all over the world.

Although Buzz Kaplan rarely passed up an opportunity to travel the globe, he never forgot the community where he grew up.

Kaplan was the chairman and CEO of Owatonna Tool Company and its subsidiaries, and the president and founder of the Heritage Halls Transportation & Children’s Museum, which he founded in 1998 to showcase his collection of vintage airplanes. Three T-38 jet aircraft painted in U.S. Air Force Thunderbird colors were displayed outside the entrance of the museum.

To attract more people to the museum, Kaplan founded Three Corners development that brought the Cabela’s store to Owatonna, and several hotels and restaurants. The museum closed in September 2001 and the three T-38s were relocated to Owatonna Degner Regional Airport in 2007.

On June 26, 2002, Buzz Kaplan, 78, was killed while flying his replica Curtiss Jenny at Owatonna Degner Regional Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board reported that the probable cause of the accident was inadequate airspeed on the takeoff climb, which resulted in an inadvertent stall. There was insufficient altitude to recover. Kaplan’s mechanic, Brent Langer, was on board and survived with serious injuries. Kaplan had accumulated more than 10,000 hours of flight time.

The box set of six limited edition paperback books is available for $75 at www.BuzzKaplan.com or by calling 612-356-2055.

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