Plane with swastika at Torrey Pines Gliderport draws objection

A plane with a swastika on the tail was photographed recently at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

A glider with a swastika on the tail was seen recently at the Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla, causing serious concern for some.

Brian Blacher told the La Jolla Light that a business partner’s daughter was at the gliderport, saw the plane and took a photo. He emailed it to the Light on Aug. 27.

Wanting to see for himself, Blacher went to the gliderport a few days later and, though he didn’t see the plane, he had what he considered a discouraging conversation with someone who said he worked there.

“The guy told me it was a replica and he didn’t see anything wrong with it being there,” Blacher said. “It troubled me that the guy did not find it offensive. That actually hurt me more than the person flying it. It’s a hateful symbol that shouldn’t be flown and shouldn’t be stored on city property.”

The city-owned location at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive is home to hang gliding, paragliding, radio-controlled model planes and full-scale sailplanes.

Blacher added that there is a “strong Jewish community and Holocaust survivors living in La Jolla” and that he planned meetings with city leaders to see if any action can be taken against planes carrying such an insignia.

Ian Cummings, interim president of Torrey Pines Gulls, an organization that flies gliders from the site, said: “I want to be clear that our club does not condone any displays of hate or racism, and that sort of behavior is in no way representative of our club. We are trying to ascertain the name of the [pilot], but no one at this point even knows his name. There is a good chance that he is not a member of our organization, as some pilots that fly there are not members. ... I will try to identify the person responsible for this and talk to him.”

Dan Cummins, past Torrey Pines Gulls president, said World War II-replica glider planes might carry such symbols.

“The clubs and people that fly at the gliderport are fantastic salt-of-the-earth people from all walks of life. Nobody that takes the time to build and fly these planes would go out of their way to offend anyone,” Cummins said. “But at the same time, many of the pilots are scale-airplane historical nerds that pride themselves on the accuracy of the planes and their insignias.

“Someone being offended by a symbol on a scale-model plane doesn’t change the history of how the planes were painted back in the day.”

Cummins said he would be “offended by a swastika tattoo or on cars, but it’s appropriate on a World War II-replica plane where it might have been seen historically.”

Blacher, however, said “we are going to continue to go back and we are not going to stop until we make sure this public property is not an assembly point for hate. We will protest if need be. We cannot let this go untouched.” ◆