P.O. Box 5344, Petaluma, CA. 94955
Newsletter? Click here
SAH General Meetings and Educational Programs
Note: Our tours are now on their own page - click
Mark your calendar
Click on this link
to see our Policies and Procedures Page
Our next meeting will be December 3, 2022
Lt. Col. Frank Gee: Flying the F-117A Stealth Fighter
F-117 photograph by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II - http://www.defenselink.mil/
Lt. Col. Frank Gee (USAF, ret.) is a highly decorated and promoted fighter pilot who held a myriad of engineering, sensitive, and classified
positions in the U.S. Air Force. He earned a distinguished graduate academic record, and exercised the physical fitness, healthy well-being,
and strong mental drive to be selected for the USAF flight test pilot program.
As a USAF fighter pilot, he was trained to engage in air-to-air combat, air-to-ground combat, and electronic warfare while flying the F-4,
F- 16, F-15, F-18, and F-117. Gee is also a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons School (TOP GUN). He was subsequently selected as a combat
squadron and unit commander, and demonstrated strong leadership and teamwork abilities throughout his military flying career.
Gee retired from active military service in November 1992, and flew as a commercial pilot until retiring in October 2002. He continues to enjoy flying
as a private pilot to this day.
Join us on Dec. 3, to hear Gee's aerial adventures during his 20 year Air Force career. Remember to bring a friend!
Instead of a teen toy drive, we are continuing our food fundraiser for Second Harvest of Silicon Valley to provide much needed food for local families.
A donation of any amount is greatly appreciated,
and your name and/or donation amount can be anonymous if you wish, just click the box(s). To make your donation, go to our fundraiser page at:
Society For Aviation History - Second Harvest Donations.
The December meeting will be conducted under Contra Costa County's COVID restrictions as mandated on the day of the meeting. Please be prepared
to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination.
Date/Time: December 3, 2022
11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Pleasant Hill, CA
Cost: Member - $42 per person.
Non-Member - $47 per person.
Buffett Entrees include: Smoked Beef Brisket, and BBQ Chicken
Sides include: Green Salad, Country Potato Salad,
Texas Style BBQ Beans, and Ranch Rolls
Dessert: Assorted Cookies
Beverages: Soda, tea, and Fresh-brewed Coffee included.
***There will be a no-host bar available***
Select from the small arrows on the right near the price and click on the "Add to Cart" button below to make
reservations via PayPal or see below for check instructions.
At the request of our bank, please make checks payable to Society for Aviation History (not SAH). Please send check
to NEW ADDRESS: SAH, P.O. Box 5344, Petaluma, CA. 94955
RSVP: Reservations must be received by Tuesday, Nov. 29. No menu choice is necessary as this meeting is a buffet. You can pay via PayPal or send a
check made payable to Society for Aviation History, not SAH. Reservations made after the deadline, or arriving without a reservation, will cost $50.
You must pay to attend meetings even if you don't plan on eating
Cancellation Note: If you can't make it and have already placed
your reservation, we must receive notice by Nov. 29, or we will not be able to provide a refund as we have already given our reservation
to the venu.
Please Read the FINE PRINT: Please do not arrive earlier than 11:15 a.m. as the venue will not be ready.
There is an elevator to the second floor banquet room - it is around the right side of the stairs. If you arrive late, parking
may be an issue - so you may have to park on the street and hoof it. Buffett is all-you-can-eat, but no doggie bags. Come hungry and bring a friend.
Click on this link to see our
Policies and Procedures Page
Our October 1, 2022 Meeting
The B-25 in the Backyard: Wally Soplata
If there ever was aviation royalty, it has to be Walter Soplata and his son Wally. Walter Soplata Sr. and his son are known for having recovered some of the rarest
aircraft at a time when many thought they were simply junk.
Wally Soplata was on hand to discuss his book The B-25 in the Backyard. It is a humorous tale of living with a father obsessed with airplanes and all that
goes with them - engines, canopies, and a million other parts, new and old, that needed saving. Wally was inducted into the family airplane collection obsession at an
early age, and his strong teenage back, willing to do whatever his father needed, was vital to the elder Soplata's aircraft recovery endeavors.
What did they bring home? How about a couple of Corsairs - including Cook Cleland's Race 74, the blue and white F2G in which he won the 1947 National Air Races
in Cleveland, the FG-1A Corsair Lucky Gallon, a pair of B-25 Mitchell bombers, an ex-NACA North American F-82E Twin Mustang, an XP-82 Twin Mustang, the Douglas
XBT2D-1 Skyraider, a KC-97 Stratotanker, a TBM Avenger torpedo-bomber, a P2V Neptune patrol bomber, the nose section of B-52B 53-0394 Lucky Lady III that led
Operation Power Flite - the circumnavigation of the globe with two other B-52s in January 1957, and lots of a Convair B-36H Peacemaker 10-engine bomber - just
to mention a dozen or so of the aircraft in Soplata's collection.
The trials and tribulations of working with his exacting, yet nutty-professor father and his Rube Goldbergesque-style of engineering as applied to the physics
of dismantling an aircraft are amazing, funny, and in some instances, simply insane. Imagine towing the B-25J-25 NC serial number 44-30129 Wild Cargo home using
a makeshift trailer and a six-cylinder Chevy Suburban - all while dodging the police because the load is too wide at best and certainly unsafe. The true tale of
moving the Vought F7U Cutlass more than 600 miles, from Boston to Cleveland, is stranger than fiction! Had there not been photos, the story simply could not be believed.
Wally Soplata earned his pilot wings as a distinguished graduate of Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) in 1979. He then spent the
majority of his Air Force flying career as an Instructor Pilot (IP) teaching in T-37s, T-38s and C-141s. Following his Air Force retirement
as a lieutenant colonel, he enjoyed a second flying career with a major airline flying the Boeing 727, 757, 767, 777 as well as the Douglas
DC-10 and Airbus A300/A310. After retiring from airline flying as a Boeing 767 Captain in 2016, he continues flying a variety of General
Aviation aircraft as a flight instructor.
Wally had books available for sale at the meeting.
June 4, 2022
The Last flight of the Red Baron
The Society for Aviation History held its membership meeting on June 4, 2022, at the Back Forty Texas Barbeque in Pleasant. Historian
J.R. Williams discussed the last flight of the Red Baron, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen.
Williams' presentation included many period photographs along with his personal photos of the battlefield and triplane
Richthofen's first confirmed aerial victory was in the skies over Cambrai, France, nearly a year after his initial pilot
training. Richthofen was a cautious airman, not particularly adept at spectacular aerobatic feats, but he was a patient and
excellent marksman. Using a set of eight proven tactics devised by German ace Oswald Boelcke, Richthofen himself became a
fighter ace, which required logging a minimum of five confirmed aerial victories. In 1917, he received Germany's highest
military honor, the Pour le Merite (also known as the "Blue Max") after his 16th kill. As a squadron commander,
Richthofen took the flamboyant step of having his Albatros D.III painted red, hence his designation as "The Red Baron."
He logged 80 kills before the end of his brief career.
At the age of 25, Richthofen was fatally wounded on April 21, 1918. Flying a Fokker Dr.1 triplane, he was in pursuit of Canadian pilot
Wilfrid May over the Somme River when Richthofen became embroiled in a dogfight with May's flight commander, Arthur Brown, flying a Sopwith
Camel. During a low pass, a single bullet fired from the ground struck Richthofen. He regained control of his aircraft and landed roughly
in his last seconds of life. His intact aircraft was completely dismantled by souvenir hunting Allied soldiers who had observed the entire aerial
combat and arrived on the scene almost instantly. Richthofen's body was given a full military funeral by the Number 3 Squadron of the Australian
Flying Corps, which was the nearest Allied air unit.
April 2, 2022
Author and Speaker: John J. Geoghegan
With Hangar One fittingly looming literally next door at our Society for Aviation History lunch meeting at the Moffett Field Museum,
author John J. Geoghegan gave an excellent presentation based on his research for his forthcoming book on American rigid airships titled
When Giants Ruled the Sky. The U.S. Navy's Zeppelins were the largest, most expensive, most technologically sophisticated aircraft
in their day. They were also flying aircraft carriers able to deploy and retrieve the airplanes they carried in their belly in mid-flight.
The Navy not only intended to show that Zeppelins patrolling the Pacific could prevent a surprise attack by Japan, but were poised to become
the dominant form of long distance transportation...until tragedy intervened.
John J. Geoghegan specializes in reporting on unusual inventions that fail in the marketplace despite their innovative nature. His articles on the subject have appeared
in New Yok Times Science section and Smithsonian Air & Space magazine among other publications. A former Special Correspondent for the New York
times, he now heads up The SILOE Research Institute's archival division in Marin.
February 5, 2022
Ultimate Pilot: Vicky Benzing
SAH President Dave Osgood and Vicky Benzing
The Society for Aviation History's first meeting of 2022 was held Feb. 5, at Michael's at Shoreline in Mountain View, with guest speaker, pilot extraordinaire, Vicky Benzing.
SAH President Dave Osgood introduced Vicky Benzing who is widely recognized for her dazzling air show performances, her participation as a Reno race pilot, and as a mentor
and role model for aspiring young aviators through her close association with sponsor California Aeronautical University. Her talk titled "Mustangs in Civilian Clothing"
focused on her aviation career and her P-51D Mustang, which she acquired from her friend and neighbor Clay Lacy in 2019. She discussed the military and civilian history
of the plane and the two-year rebuild process currently nearing completion under the direction of Steve Hinton, Jr. at Fighter Rebuilders, LLC, in Chino.
With more than 9000 hours of flight time and over 1300 parachute jumps, she has a passion for everything airborne. Her flying career has spanned more than 30 years and she currently holds an
airline transport pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters, seaplanes, and gliders. Look for Vicky at the Reno Air Races in September 2022.
December 11, 2021
Shot Down: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder
The Society for Aviation History held its much delayed first meeting of 2021 on Dec. 11, at Back Forty Texas BBQ in Pleasant Hill. This was also the first meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic
forced a halt to such in-person affairs. Hard to believe our last meeting was in February 2020, twenty-two long months ago. Our guest speaker for the meeting was author Steve Snyder
who presented selections from his book Shot Down, the true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 "Susan Ruth"
Steve Snyder, son of Howard Snyder, described his father's World War II odyssey as a pilot. The elder Snyder flew the B-17
Susan Ruth, named for his daughter, with the 8th Air Force's 306th Bomb Group based at Thurleigh, England. Snyder's Susan Ruth was downed during a mission to bomb
Frankfurt, Germany, on Feb. 8, 1944, and Shot Down tells Howard Snyder's story of service, combat, and life with the underground and resistance. Author Snyder related how
his wife encouraged him to try and find the German pilots of the FW-190s that shot down his father's plane, which he did and was able to travel to Germany and meet with them and
hear their reflections of the events of that day. The Belgian town near where the plane crashed also dedicated a memorial to the crew in 1959. Both father and son Snyders were
able to attend and meet many of the locals who took part in the events of 1944. Shot Down is the recipient of more than 20 national book awards.
Your 2022 Board of Directors L to R: President Dave Osgood, VP Nick Veronico, Directors Betty Veronico,
Ron Strong, Roger Cain, Secretary Ron Close, Treasurer Dan Morgan,
and director Byron May. Absent is director Alice Hendricks.
Our Saturday, February 1, 2020 Meeting
B-24 Liberators of the Indian Air Force
2020 SAH President Dave Osgood and Anandeep Pannu
The Society for Aviation History's first general meeting of 2020 was held February 1st at the Back Forty Texas BBQ restaurant in
Pleasant Hill, Calif. Society President Dave Osgood explained the meeting agenda would run in reverse order because of unforeseen
time constraints. Therefore, the crowd favorite buffet lunch was served immediately, followed by our guest speakers presentation.
Member announcements, trivia quiz, and prizes closed out the meeting.
Following the hearty lunch, Osgood introduced Anandeep Pannu, a lifelong aviation enthusiast, historian, and pilot (warbirds, gliders,
and competitive aerobatics just to name a few.) This was a fascinating story of how a newly independent nation and a nascent Indian aircraft
industry, using its experiences gained during World
War II, resurrected a force of 43 B-24Js - giving the Indian Air Force the largest force of heavy bombers in the region. The B-24 served for 20
years (till 1968) with the Indian Air Force in the conventional bombing and maritime patrol roles. The story of their service, the squadrons,
and the men who flew them were revealed in this talk.
Anandeep Pannu is a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), and has been an aviation enthusiast all his life. Anandeep grew up an Air Force brat. His
father, a career Indian Air Force pilot instilled a love for "stick and rudder" aviation and the quest for mastery by example. The sounds he
grew up with ranged from the putt-putt of small trainers, to the growl of large radials to the scream of jet engines. There were other members
of his family who inspired him as well - they included a decorated World War II fighter pilot who flew Hawker Hurricanes in Burma, a Navy
carrier-based jet pilot, and an Army helicopter pilot. Anandeep has the good fortune to fly a wide variety of aircraft including sailplanes,
aerobatic airplanes, bush planes, Light Sport Aircraft, experimental aircraft, sea planes, glass panel aircraft and warbirds. Anandeep is
part owner of a North American T-6G that he flies regularly, and as pilot with the Collings Foundations flies the B-24, B-17, and B-25.
Our February Meeting was held at the Back Forty Texas BBQ in Pleasant Hill.
To see some more of
our past meetings, click below
2003 and earlier