The man generally acclaimed as being responsible for the Hail Mary military victory in the 1991 Desert Storm operation has cheated death again — this time as a passenger aboard a Gulfstream G3 headed into the Lake Tahoe Airport in California. Retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf’s Gulfstream, along with a Beechcraft King Air flying in a loose formation ahead of it, was on approach to the airport’s single runway when a single-engine Cessna (type unknown) took the runway Thursday and began its take-off roll.
“When the Cessna lifted off I looked out and saw the King Air and the Gulf Stream. They were over the runway at the same time,” said Mindy Johnke, manager of Superior Aviation at the Lake Tahoe Airport, in an interview with the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She said the three aircraft came with 200 feet of a collision.
The town of South Lake Tahoe, which operates the airport, has been cash-strapped and unwilling to pay for the tower. In October, the tower was shut down for lack of funding. “We didn’t hear anything from the Cessna,” Johnke said. “Ever since the control tower shut down we’ve had a lot of confused pilots who don’t know which frequency to communicate on. I’ve seen a lot of near misses.”
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