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Society for Aviation History

P.O. Box 5344, Petaluma, CA. 94955

SAH General Meetings and Educational Programs

Our Saturday, December 7th, 2019 Meeting

Flying Electronic Warfare C-47s in Vietnam

James "Jim" Clement is a decorated Vietnam-era combat pilot who retired having attained the rank of colonel after a 30-year combined active duty and reserve career in the Air Force. He recently retired from an award-winning 35-year career at NASA as a Certified Space Shuttle Mission Control flight controller, a mission operations engineer and senior manager, and a research directorate executive. He is a published expert on international space operations.

Flying the EC-47: The Secret War in Laos was the subject of Clement's talk at the Dec. 7 meeting. Clement flew 80 combat missions over South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the EC-47.

Later in his career, as a KC-135 refueling aircraft pilot in the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, Clement flew global missions in support of various Air Force aircraft. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and other awards. He is a graduate of the Air War College and the National Defense University, as well as a licensed FAA Commercial Pilot.

Clement is an avid photographer and his photography has appeared in gallery shows at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica, California; in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center, Aquatic Park, and the War Memorial Building; as well as on Sunset Magazine and the California State Parks Association websites. A number of his photographs have been displayed in the San Francisco City Hall, and his photography has been exhibited multiple times in the Academy of Art Galleries as a part of the annual San Francisco Fleet Week. Clement supports STEM (Science, technology, engineering, math) education and has given talks at Rotary events and the San Francisco library about his career as a NASA Space Shuttle flight controller.

This meeting was also our annual Teen Toy Drive, thank you for bringing a gift for a child in need.

Your 2020 SAH Board of Directors (missing is Dan Morgan ~ Treasurer)

Past SAH Presidents in attendance were Ron Close, Alice Hendricks, and Nick Veronico.

Our December meeting was held at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Redwood City

Our Saturday, October 5, 2019 Meeting

Dennis Jenkins Discusses The Space Shuttle Program

Everything you wanted to know about the Space Shuttle, but didn't know who to ask...

Dennis R. Jenkins worked as a contractor to NASA for 33 years, mostly on the Space Shuttle Program in a variety of engineering and management roles. After supporting the first few space shuttle launches at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), he spent five years activating the Vandenberg Launch Site in California before the facility was closed following the Challenger accident.

Returning to KSC, he supported recovering from the accident and a variety of special projects. During the late 1990s Jenkins was the ground systems lead for the X-33 program. Afterward, he managed a variety of upgrade projects at KSC. Jenkins spent 2003 on the staff of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), 2004 as staff to the PresidentÕs Commission on the Future of Human Spaceflight and as technical staff to the Return-to-Flight Task Group evaluating the readiness of space shuttle to support STS-114, 2005 as the Verville Fellow at the National Air and Space Museum, and then returned to KSC as a consultant to United Space Alliance. In 2010, he became the United Space Alliance project manager to deliver the remaining Orbiters to their Display Sites. Afterward Jenkins became the project director for the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center that will ultimately display Endeavour as a full-launch stack.

Jenkins has written extensively on aviation and space history including the official NASA history of the X-15 program and the NASA history of aviation pressure suits. He has recently released his three-volume Space Shuttle: Developing an Icon history of the Space Shuttle Program.

This was our annual Canned Food Drive at this meeting, thank you for bringing what you could for those in need.

Our October Meeting was held at the Cattlemans Restaurant in Livermore.

Our Saturday, June 1, 2019 Meeting

Pan Am at War

Speaker Mark Cotta Vaz and SAH President Ron Close

Author Mark Cotta Vaz discussed his new book Pan Am at War. Co-authored with John Hill, Pan Am at War chronicles the airline's historic role in advancing aviation and serving America's national interest before and during World War II. From its inception, Pan American Airways operated as the "wings of democracy," spanning six continents and placing the country at the leading edge of international aviation. At the same time, it was clandestinely helping to fight America's wars.

Utilizing government documents, declassified Freedom of Information Act material, and company documents, the authors have uncovered stories of Pan Am's stunning role as an instrument of American might:

• The airline's role in building air bases in Latin America and countering Axis interests that threatened the Panama Canal

• Creating transatlantic and trans-Africa supply lines for sending Lend-Lease equipment to Britain

• Cooperation with Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese nationalist government to pioneer the dangerous "Hump" route over the Himalayas

• The dangerous seventeen-thousand-mile journey that took President Roosevelt to the high-stakes Casablanca Conference with Winston Churchill

• The daring flight that delivered uranium for the atomic bomb.

Filled with larger-than-life characters, and revelations of the vision and technology it took to dominate the skies, Pan Am at War provides a gripping unknown history of the American Century.

Our June Meeting was held at the Spaghetti Factory in Redwood City.

Our Saturday, April 6, 2019 Meeting

Seven at Santa Cruz: Fighter Ace "Swede" Vejtasa

Speaker Ted Edwards and SAH President Ron Close

Historian and author Ted Edwards spent many years interviewing the participants of World War II, and his crowning achievement is the biography Seven at Santa Cruz: The Life of Fighter Ace Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa.

During the Battle of the Coral Sea, Vejtasa was flying an SBD Dauntless dive bomber from Yorktown and helped sink the Shoho, the first Japanese carrier sunk by the US Navy in World War II. The next day he was again flying a Dauntless when he outflew and out-gunned three Japanese Zero fighters. This made "Swede" the only dive bomber pilot to be awarded Navy Crosses for both dive bombing and aerial combat.

Months later, the day before the Battle of Santa Cruz, "Swede" was flying an F4F Wildcat fighter from the Enterprise and was ordered to fly predictably empty search legs which he knew to be insane. He followed his orders. On his return to Point Option the carrier was not there. He and his fellow pilots were low on fuel. He remembered seeing an oil leak from the Enterprise and he located this oil slick, following it to the new location of the carrier.

Having saved himself and his fellow pilots, "Swede" was able to fly again the next day, single-handedly downing two Japanese dive bombers and five torpedo bombers. Skipper Jimmy Flatley considered that this had saved the Enterprise from destruction and recommended "Swede" for the Medal of Honor. For reasons unclear, Admiral Kinkaid, who had been responsible for the mistakes in sending "Swede" and his comrades on the mission that nearly cost the whole group, downgraded the Medal of Honor recommendation to a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Ted Edwards is an historian, who has enjoyed international careers in education and gymnastics. He coached Virgin Islands gymnasts in three Pan American Games and served as Team Official in two Olympic Games, and has happily adventured in the Sierras, Rockies, Alps and the Nepal Himalaya. Edwards lives in Felton, with his wife Barbara Rose Johnston.

Our April Meeting was held at the Back Forty Texas BBQ in Pleasant Hill.

Our February 2, 2019 Meeting

Two Air Tragedies Linked to Moffett Field Remembered

 

Two aviation accidents linked to Moffett Field were examined by crash detective Dave Trojan. The first is a P-3A Orion crash mystery in Michigan that was unexplained until now. The second is a Navy Transport R6D Liftmaster that crashed on Oahu, Hawaii. The stories behind these accidents was described and what remains at both crash sites were revealed. The lasting effects from these tragedies were also be explored. Artifacts recovered from both crash sites were recently put on display at the Moffett Field Museum and were displayed during the meeting.

The first aircraft was Lockheed P-3A Orion, Buno. 152172, assigned to VP-19 which departed NAS Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y., on July 4, 1966. Its intended destination was NAS Moffett Field, but the Orion crashed in Michigan during the cross-country flight. It was the first unexplained P-3 Orion accident to occur over land and it was immediately recognized that every effort must be made to insure that the cause of this accident be determined, but it never was until now. This accident became was one of the most comprehensive, in-depth, and longest running aircraft accident investigations in the history of aviation archaeology. Trojan was able to uncover new information which may have discovered the cause of this undetermined accident.

The presentation involves a tragedy that is so great that people wanted to forget about it and the event was almost lost to history. Navy R6D Liftmaster, Buno. 131612, crashed on Oahu, Hawaii, on March 22, 1955, during a flight to Moffett Field. The R6D accident resulted in the loss of 66 lives, making it the worst air disaster in the history of Hawaii and the deadliest accident involving aircraft in the history of United States Naval Aviation. This tragic event was re-investigated and new information was discovered.

Crash detective Trojan has visited both of these crash sites and thoroughly investigated both of these tragic accidents. He will reveal information and photographs that have never before been made public.

About the Speaker: David Trojan is a Navy veteran who served 21 years as an Aviation Electronics Technician retiring in 2000. After retiring he became a Tech Rep for the Marine Corps at Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Trojan earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University majoring in Aviation Business Administration and Accident Investigation. While working on a Masters degree, he focused on abandoned World War II airfields in Hawaii and aircraft crash sites from the era.

He has visited more than 500 military aircraft crash sites all across the country and the Pacific. He has written over 60 articles for the Hawaii Navy News, Kaneohe News, Naval Aviation magazine, World War I Aero magazine, and many local newspapers.

Trojan likes to discover the facts, fill in the blanks, explain the mysteries of why the planes crashed and finally lay the questions to rest by writing the stories. The stories give light to those who have sacrificed so much to give us the peace we enjoy today. His latest venture is "Project Remembrance" Š remembering those who were killed in aircraft accidents by placing memorials at their crash sites and writing about them.

Our February Meeting was held at the Moffett Field Museum in Mountain View.

To see some more of our past meetings, click below

2018 meetings

2017 meetings

2016 meetings

2015 meetings

2014 meetings

2013 meetings

2012 meetings

2011 meetings

2010 meetings

2009 meetings

2008 meetings

2007 meetings

2006 meetings

2005 meetings

2004 meetings

2003 and earlier

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