Kent H Blankenburg
July 12, 1939 August 28, 2021
It is with great sorrow to announce that on the early evening of Saturday August 28th, 2021, Kent H Blankenburg, 82 died at his home in Wickenburg Arizona with his loving wife Sandy by his side. Kent was born July 12th, 1939 in Hillsboro Oregon. Kent spent his childhood in Roseville California with his parents Richard E. and Louis H Blankenburg. They moved their family to Chino California when they purchased the Chino Champion Newspaper. Kent attended and graduated from Chino High School and went on to The Los Angeles Trade School and studied Offset Printing, newspaper equipment and press lines. Kent's family relocated to Arroyo Grande when his folks bought the three small newspapers on the Central Coast and turned them into the Five Cities Times Press Recorder. It was during this time that Kent met and married his first wife Velma Warren, they were married many years and had two children together. When Kent's father Richard Blankenburg retired, Kent and his brother Dick took over as co-publishers of the newspaper. Kent retired in 1992 and moved to Pine Mountain Lake on the airport where he and Sandy built two large hangars at the west end of the airport. Their hangars served as museums, filled with airplanes, cars, scooters and vintage aviation memorabilia that Kent and Sandy collected during their travels around the country.
To the Pine Mountain Lake Aviation community, Kent and Sandy were consummate and generous hosts. Kent and Sandy could host an event for 300 people with any theme; and many meetings, parties, weddings, memorials, and fundraisers were held at their beautifully decorated hangar. The years of Kent and Sandy's many themed parties are affectionately known to many as the Camelot Years at PML Airport. In addition to local events, their annual Luscombe Luaus brought pilots from far and wide.
Kent began flying after taking flight lessons at the Oceano Airport where he would walk by a derelict Cessna 195 on his way to getting his private pilot's license and he said to himself, I'm going to own one of those Cessna 195 tail draggers and indeed, he did. It was a beautiful restored and polished aluminum 195. Kent was proud to be a Caretaker of many historical antique aircraft. Their aircraft were featured in many flying and pilot magazines, aviation calendars, Newspapers, videos and two fashion campaign layouts for Michael Kors Spring and Fall collections, which appeared in fashion magazines around the world.
Kent and Sandy's greatest and most humbling award was the Rolls Royce/Western Regional National Aviation Invitational Heritage Trophy which is presented yearly at the Reno Air Races... for the Best of the Best aircraft representing restoration, Caretaking and keeping their aircraft airworthy and flying. In 2005, Kent and Sandy received this coveted award for their 1948 Luscombe Sedan 11A. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, presented the trophy to them. A proud and patriotic moment for Kent and Sandy. Their aircraft were judged by the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. This perpetual trophy that has Kent and Sandy's name engraved on it and stands proudly in the Air and Space Museum at Dullas International Airport in Washington DC.
Kent had to give up his passion of flying in 2008 when his eyesight started to fail him. Kent, then retired the aircraft and left them in good Caretaker's hands to keep up and flying.
Kent and Sandy were married in 1991 and upon early retirement, they spent their time together, flying to Air Shows and Fly-Ins all over the USA and Canada to share and let people see the old tail dragger aircraft, not just on static display but up and flying as they were meant to be. Kent had over 3,900 hours behind his aircraft as a pilot with Sandy by his side. They would fly to Oshkosh Wisconsin every year to the EAA Convention to share their aircraft and love of aviation.... coming home with many Lindy Awards. Kent and Sandy were the Caretakers of a 1947 polished aluminum Luscombe 8A, 1948 Luscombe Sedan 11A, 1939 polished aluminum Lockheed Electra 12A, 1938 polished aluminum Spartan Executive 7W, 1947 Republic Seabee RC-3, 1952 polished aluminum Cessna 195 , and the only flying and serial #1 Luscombe Phantom. Kent would always say and have printed on their aircraft information display boards Caretakers... people would ask why do you always say Caretaker and he would smile and say We are taking care of these beauties but someday we won't be able to and some lucky aviators will be the new Caretaker's. Kent was never boastful but always considerate and kind and he loved to share their aircraft with others. Kent was humble to be described as a pilot, Caretaker to say the least. Kent is survived by his wife Sandy Blankenburg, daughter Jill Canby, (Martin), son Warren Blankenburg, (Connie), daughter Gina Munger, (Jason), granddaughters Camille Canby and Paige Canby, Maddison Munger and great granddaughter Quinn Ray Munger, daughter of his grandson Cameron Munger (Sydney). Many nieces and nephews, and brother Dick Blankenburg. Kent was preceded in death by his father Richard E. Blankenburg and mother Louis H. Blankenburg, sisters Karen Nyberg and Lana K. Sims, and Sandy's son, Angelo Sandy.
Kent was happy and content in Wickenburg Arizona. He had done what he wanted to do, share aviation with a new generation of flyers. Kent treasured and loved his family and was proud of all of their accomplishments. He was happy when everyone in the family was happy, and as Kent would say, It's all good.
Kent was a pilot on Earth and has earned his wings with the angels in Heaven. Rest in peace and know you were loved here on Earth. We will be joining you in heaven when we are called by God. You were the best husband, dad, grandpa, uncle and friend to all who met you. Your memory is forever engraved in our hearts. A celebration of life will be held at a later time.
Published in Santa Maria Times on Oct. 2, 2021.