Clear Lake man inspired Hollywood and didn't know it

12:01 PM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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CLEAR LAKE, Minn. -- Hidden down a dirt road and in more than 100 acres of corn is Leaders Clear Lake Airport, the dream a farmer who wanted to fly.

Bob Leaders, 80, said when he was a young boy planes rarely flew by and when they did he was fascinated.

"When we were eating dinner everyone, even the hard men, would run outside and see the airplane way up there" Bob Leaders said.

He joined the service and learned to fly. By 1969 he started Leaders Clear Lake Airport. Today he has so many planes he can't remember if he owns 32 or 35. He's used to people coming by to see his collection. So, two years ago when a couple of guys showed up he thought nothing of it.

"I was just doing some work in the office and one guy walked in and just asked if they could look around you know," he said.

They told him they were making a movie. He said yes and heard nothing more. Then a few weeks ago a neighbor showed up with a magazine featuring the Disney's new movie "Planes" and his airport. Leaders had no idea "those guys" were actually scouts for Disney and his farm was the inspiration for the airfield in the movie. An old truck in his field also inspired the character "Chug."

The 80-year-old gets bashful when you mention Hollywood but admits he did see the movie.

"My grandkids liked it," he laughed.

His youngest son Chase Leaders is enjoying the limelight.

"It was cool. I could see some similarities between the movies and here," Chase said.

Flying was never about getting famous for Leaders. It's always been about spreading his wings.

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