LOREN DAVIS SAVES LARRY BERQUISTíS LIFE
The year is unknown but probably 1970, 1971 or 1972. The place was Soggy Dry Lake in the Lucerne Valley of California. The event was the Ramís Hare and Hound. My job that day was marking tank cards when the riders completed the first loop. Our location was just on the east side of main dirt road, north of Highway 247 in Lucerne Valley, CA. I watched the leader, drop into the trail on the south side of Soggy Dry Lake. Our club had positioned a flagman, Loren Davis, at the road crossing. I noticed a high wing Cessna make a straight in approach to land northbound on the same dirt road.
The third rider, Larry Berquist, luckily was stopped by Loren just before the Cessna landed on the road. Touchdown was just about where the course crossed the road. On slowing the plan struck a wood signpost with the left wing snapping the redwood post at the ground, severely damaging the leading edge of the wing. There was no room for error on the landing as there were foot high gravel berms on both sides of the road. After stopping, the plane did a 180 degree turn, taxied south on the same road when made a left turn into our pits. Two young couples exited the plane, looked at the mangled left wing, then watched the race oblivious to the fact of a near disaster.
After a short time, the four climbed back into the plane, fired it up, and taxied back onto the road. Keep in mind the race was still on and riders were still finishing the first loop. Fortunately for all concerned, no one was injured as the plane left the pits, turned left on the gravel road, taxied south, stopped, did another 180 degree turn then accelerated with main gear still on the road as it again went past our flagman and thru the course. The damage to the wing didnít keep the plane from departing the area. Had the pilot only noticed the dry lake, he could have landed on it in basically any direction. There was actually a tiedown cable on the east end of the lake.
Lorenís version of the incident is somewhat similar to mine. He did state that after getting Larry to stop, Larry started yelling at him. "Why didnít you stop him (the plane)!?
Later, Loren told me "Jeez, I just saved this guy's life, and all he can do is yell at me!"