Reuben W. “Buzz” Kaplan was born in 1924 in Owatonna, Minnesota. His travels began when he joined the US Army and was sent to Germany in 1943 to fight in World War II. Upon returning home, he earned his pilot’s license and pursued the life of an adventurer. He flew his airplanes in over seventy-five countries and six continents, winning numerous awards for his flight achievements.
Buzz’s 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. His airplane restoration company, Born Again Restorations, rebuilt a Savoia-Marchetti flying boat, which became the oldest Italian airplane in operation. In 1988, he landed it on Lake Geneva, Switzerland—a first since 1912—and in 1990, he flew it around the Statue of Liberty. Buzz’s adventures made headlines and friendships all over the world.
Although Buzz rarely passed up an opportunity to travel the globe, he never forgot the community where he grew up. He was the chairman and CEO of Owatonna Tool Company and its subsidiaries and the president and founder of Heritage Halls Museum in Owatonna. In addition, he was a respected and generous contributor to the city of Owatonna. This is his story.