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Society for Aviation History

Society for Aviation History

PO. Box 7081 San Carlos, CA 94070

1-650-631-4207

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past NorCal AAHS General Meetings

Our Holiday meeting December 6th, 2003, in Foster City, CA

Chapter President Nick Veronico holds up Eric's trivia presentation after the contest.

Flying the Mississippi in a Float Plane

We had an excellent turnout with 75 members and guests, and Eric's slide show of the families trip was well received by the membership. Eric also supplied the Trivia Contest, and quite a few members and guests won some nice very nice aviation books and videos, most are fresh off the press, thanks to the many donations we receive from our general membership.

Eric Presten was the chapters featured speaker at our Holiday meeting in Foster City, at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Eric discussed his 2556 mile flight along the mighty Mississippi River in his 1949 Piper PA-16 Clipper on floats. It began at Lake Itaska in Minesota and finished at the Gulf of Mexico. His wife Debbie, who is also a pilot, and their two sons accompanied Eric on this trip. 

Presten was born and raised in Fremont, CA. His earliest exposure to sport aviation came in 1972 during a visit with his grandparents in Vancouver, WA. He attended his first air show at a small airfield there. A few years later, Eric learned to fly in a 1946 Aeronca Champ at a grass strip in Fort Worth, Texas, during one summer. Obtaining his private pilots license for single-engine airplanes while still a teenager, Eric went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Technology from Central Missouri State University. Since then he has acquired his Single- and Multi-Engine Instrument Commercial License Land Ratings, a Single-Engine Commercial and Part 135 seaplane qualification. He is also a licensed A & P mechanic with an Inspection Authorization. He has taken tens of thousands of aircraft photographs and has personally flown in or piloted more than 650 aircraft, consisting of over 250 different types. Eric has owned eleven aircraft and won Grand Champion at the Merced Antique Fly-In with his 1931 Russel Light Monoplane, and 2002 Grand Champion Piper at Oshkosh with his PA-16 Clipper, both of which were restored by him.

 On top of it all, Eric is a self-publishing author and had his Vintage Flyer Guidebooks available for sale and signings, following his talk on the Mississippi.

Details about our meeting: October 4, 2003

Update on Amelia: New Information in the Search for Amelia Earhart

Amellia.jpg

On October 4th, our meeting was held at the Western Aerospace Museum at North Field, Oakland Airport. Long-time NCC AAHS member Ron Reuther (NC 71), a specialist in Bay Area aviation history and Amelia Earhart, discussed the search for Earhart and what’s new in the search. Reuther has hosted a number of Earhart symposiums and is one of the local authorities on the subject. Reuther retired from the military and was instrumental in forming the Western Aerospace Museum. We had a total of 66 members show up at this meeting, along with a new member and several guests. An excellent catered lunch was enjoyed by all, and Bill Larkins showed a slide show of the WAM's Short Solent flying boat being brought to Oakland from Richmond, via Barge. Bill also hosted our trivia contest with a slide show, and a nice selection of photographs to identify.

Our June 14 2003 Meeting,

Wright Brothers Panel Discussion with Wright flyer Replica

Seated left to right: Dan Morgan, Larry Rinek, Fay Kellog, and Norm Jukes. Standing is Alice Hendricks.

The Chapter hosted a panel discussion on the Wright Brothers and their first flight. The program was organized and moderated by Norm Jukes (NC193). Alice Hendricks (NC365) discussed the brothers, their education, and their motivation to fly.

Fay Kellog (NC340) detailed the Wright Brothers' wind tunnel and air foil developement. Dan Morgan (NC280) discussed the Wright Flyer's three-axis control system. Larry Rinek (NC387) discussed the brother's engine and propellor development.

In addition they covered such topics as why the brothers chose Kitty Hawk, North Carolina - 1,000 miles from Dayton, and their living conditions on the coast. We were very fortunate to have an exact replica of the Wright Flyer on display for our meeting. Food was catered by the Wings of History Staff.

Location: Wings of History Museum, San Martin

At our April Meeting:

P-38 Ace Herb Ross, tour of the Stockton Field Aviation Museum,

Herb Ross pictured with "Little Karl"

Our speaker was Herb Ross, P-38 ace and the man who scored a direct hit on the Italian liner, being used as a troopship, Rex. Herb Ross, a native of Stockton, flew with the 14th Fighter Group’s 48th Fighter Squadron in the Mediterranean, attacking targets in and around Italy. He flew 52 missions and down seven enemy aircraft – two Bf-109s, a pair of Macchi 202, two Ju-52s, and an Fw-190. Ross even gave Bob Hope a ride in his P-38 while the entertainer was in North Africa on a USO tour. Ross retired as a colonel from the Air Force after 27 years, and today owns a Pitts Special, which he keeps at Stockton. We also viewed the Stockton Field Aviation Museum’s displays whic features an outstanding collection of aviation armament including an original Sperry ball turret (from a B-17 – or that other plane...). Visit www.twinbeech.com for details.


Details About Our February 2003 Meeting

B-58 Hustler Crew Panel

Date was February 8, 2003, at Francesco's Restaurant, near the Oakland Airport

Col. Joe Cotton, Col. Louie Babbitt, Col. Pete Revello and Larry Rinek

(left to right)

Our past meeting was well-received with 84 members and guests attending this panel discussion with questions and answers.

Convair’s Mach 2+ B-58 Hustler was the world’s first supersonic bomber. It was considered quite advanced when first flown in 1956, and made an important contribution to U.S. military aviation history. As a front-line intercontinental strategic nuclear medium-weight bomber, the B-58 served the U.S. Air Force from 1960 to 1970. Although not used in combat, the B-58 nonetheless did play a useful role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Hustler also inspired production of Soviet supersonic bombers and defensive interceptors.

Relatively small, fast, and sleek, the Hustler exhibited the feel and performance of a supersonic jet fighter. The B-58 was the recipient of many trophies/international records for both speed and altitude. Only 116 airframes were built and two active SAC wings deployed, as superior adversary defenses, new ICBMs, and fresh competing supersonic bomber designs took precedence. The program also suffered from high costs and excessive hull loss/crash rates. The elite aircrews, however, generally liked the high-performance Hustler. Many of the technology innovations seen in the B-58 were applied to other aircraft programs.

Larry Rinek, NCAAHS director, briefly outlined historical highlights of the program with slides/videos, and then moderated a Hustler aircrew panel discussion with three distinguished guests:

• Representing the front seat is Col. Joe Cotton, former test pilot on the B-58 program. Col. Cotton spoke to our group previously (December 2001) on his experiences with the XB-70 test program. Now living in Los Altos, Col. Cotton logged around 800 hours in the B-58 at both Carswell AFB in Texas for USAF Cat II/III testing and then Edwards AFB (TB-58A chase plane/trainer for XB-70 program).

• Covering the middle bombardier/navigator seat is Col. Pete Revello from Sacramento. With more than 1,500 hours in the B-58, Col. Revello flew with the 43 Bomb Wing out of Little Rock AFB, Arkansas from 1965-1969 before transitioning to SAC FB-111 duties at Carswell AFB.

• Representing the back seat is former DSO (defensive systems operator) Col. Louie Babbitt, joining us from Placerville. With more than 1,300 hours in the B-58, Col. Babbitt flew with the 305th Bomb Wing at Grissom AFB, Indiana from 1961 to 1969. DSOs operated electronic countermeasures as well as tail guns, and served as flight engineers.

In addition, Ace Campbell presented the history of a local airport. His talks are always entertaining and in demand by our members.

For more details, call or email the chapter at NCC AAHS .•

Details About Our Christmas Meeting

Searching The South Pacific with Pat Scannon

If Pat Scannon looks familiar (third from left in the photo near a crashed Avenger torpedo bomber), its because you’ve seen his adventures chronicled in such high-profile publications as Parade magazine, and on ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel. Scannon, a medical doctor by trade and biotechnology pioneer, spends his free time searching the South Pacific for lost American fliers, aircraft, and ships of the Second World War. As an pilot and aviation historian Scannon focuses his attentions of the Palau area, where fierce battles raged in 1944 and 1945.

 Scannon says: “Finding airplanes that have been missing for fifty years does not occur by just jumping into the water. The ocean is just too big and planes shot down tend to land in less-than-convenient places. By necessity, I have become more of a detective than a diver, looking in dusty archives all over the United States and Palau and interviewing the folks who were there. This has become the most unexpectedly meaningful part of the adventure: talking with and getting to know the airmen who witnessed the horror of watching their friends shot out of the sky, and talking with Palauans who were caught between two warring nations, who remember these missions from the receiving end. I feel privileged to have received many stories from both Palauans and Americans who, for the most part, are amazed anyone still cares, except for others who were there at the time. On a few important occasions, their stories have even provided priceless leads of where to look for missing aircraft.”

Scannon had slides and a video to accompany his talk. For more information about some of the aircraft he’s found, visit: www.bentprop.org. In addition, the Bent Prop website features narratives of Scannon’s expeditions written for the Explorer’s Club, and they make for fascinating reading.

Date/Time: December 7, 2002     Location: Santa Clara, CA

October Meeting Wrap-up

Douglas A-26/B-26 Invader Flight Experiences From 1944 Through 2002

Scott Thompson fields questions for the A-26/B-26 panelists. From left: Richard Denison, Harold Simpson, David Lane, Thompson at podium, and former Shell Oil pilot Bob Rhode.

Sixty-Six members attended the October 2002 meeting at Cattlemens Restaurant in Livermore to hear a panel discussion on the Douglas A-26/B-26 Invader. Larry Rinek (NC 387) served as meeting chairman with Scott Thompson, author of the recently released Douglas A-26 and B-26 Invader, chairing the panel discussion.

After a short introduction on the history of the A-26/B-26 by Scott Thompson, each panelist described his experiences with the aircraft. Bob Rohde learned to fly in the Stockton area in the 1930s, and went on to fly 30 missions piloting B-17s with the 447th Bomb Group in England during World War II. He began flying for Shell Oil Company after the war, flying their B-25J “Flying Laboratory” from Oakland Airport. Shell later obtained the combination jet/piston XB-26F for Shell's fuel research, also flying from Oakland between 1949 and 1951. Rhode said the flying engine detonation tests, “Shook the plane’s floorboards.” After the Korean War began, he was recalled and flew B-29s from Hamilton AFB for the duration of the war. He returned to Shell in a non-flying position, remaining with the company until he retired in 1977.

Richard Denison, the only non-pilot in the group, who rode in the nose section of the plane, described it, “Like flying between two P-47s.” Denison was a navigator with the 386th Bomb Group while based in France in late 1944 and early 1945. He had been assigned to C-47s towing gliders during D-Day Invasion in June 1944, and moved to the 9th Air Force when they needed navigators. He began on Martin B-26s, flying 28 missions, before switching to the A-26 in early 1945, flying an additional 12 missions in the A-26 Invader.

Harold Simpson flew P-47s in Europe during World War II. For the Korean War, he was assigned to fly B-26s with the 3rd Bomb Group from bases in Japan and Korea. Simpson told stories of flying at 100 foot altitude, at night over Korea chasing trains. After the war he was assigned to research programs involving QB-17 drones, and later drone types, from Holloman AFB, New Mexico. He retired as a Lt. Col. in 1970. (The chapter website has an Earl Holmquist photo of a QB-17 drone at www.norcalaahs.org/ehDB17P1.jpg.)

On the economic side, A-26 owner David Lane stated that operating the plane today costs between $1,200 and $1,500 per hour to fly, “assuming nothing major breaks.” Lane is a Boeing 747 Captain flying transpacific routes with Northwest Airlines. He began flying in the early 1970s in the Porterville area, later became a flight instructor and flying for a number of large commuter airlines until he was hired by Northwest. He has flown both the 727 and 747 by Northwest. In 1999 he purchased an A-26 from the Canadian Warplane Heritage group. The Invader, registered as N119DR, is based at Gillespie Field, near San Diego, and is flown to many west coast airshows. His A-26 was on the ramp at Reno, and looked sharp.

By the meeting’s end, those in attendance surely gained an appreciation of an often-overlooked aircraft and were certainly impressed by the stories told by former A-26/B-26 crewmembers. At the very least, everyone knew that the A-26/B-26 was a Douglas Invader and NOT a Martin Marauder!

In addition to the panel of speakers, Larry Rinek announced that the board is up for re-election and that ballots will be mailed in November. A trivia contest by Bill Larkins (NC 1), who even gave the group all the answers, had many members scratching their heads trying to complete it. Ace Campbell also presented the history of a local airport – always a crowd favorite.   Dan Morgan (NC 280)

Invader Book Available On Line

Scott Thompson’s well-received A-26 book sold out quickly at the meeting. If you missed the opportunity to purchase the book, contact Thompson through his website at: www.aerovintage.com. Mention that you’re a NorCalAAHS member and he’ll autograph it, and send it without delivery charges. Thompson has written six other books, and his website is the best place for B-17 and B-25 news.

Details about our last Meeting...

Kenneth T. Brown: Marauder Man

Our speaker for June 8th was Kenneth T. Brown, author of the book Marauder Man: World War II in the Crucial But Little Known B-26 Marauder Medium Bomber, A Memoir/History. A Quaker by birth and a pacifist by nature, Ken Brown nevertheless volunteered for service in the United States Army Air Forces because he saw facism as a greater evil than a war to destroy facism.

Opting to be trained as a bombadier and navigator, Cadet Brown was a budding scientist who completed the required training and took his precision of thought to England, where he and his B-26 crew were assigned to the Ninth Air Force's veteran 391st Bombardment Group. In due course, Lieutenant Brown moved up to become one of a handful of lead navigators who guided the 391st Group's bombing formations to and from their targets, often in bad weather.

Brown joined the fray just before his group moved to an advance airfield in France and follows through to the end of the war by way of his own observations and experience. Along the way he describes aerial combat from the perspective of a non-pilot with two vital roles to play in the tactical bombing in Europe.

Brown had copies of his book "Marauder Man" at the meeting.

Our meeting location and luncheon was in Oakland, CA on June 8, 2002

Our previous meeting was:

April 6th, 2002

Bay Area Airports

About six years ago, members Ace and Judy Campbell picked up a semi-dormant Chapter project on recording the landing fields that lay within a 75 mile arc of the on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Ace and Judy have located 670 such sites and have already drawn detailed maps of the exact position of 540 of the landing fields. The end product of this research will be a book that will contain a history and fact sheet on all of these sites, and will include a map so interested persons can go to the actual place of an airfield. It is obvious that almost all of these sites are now being used for things other than aviation, but historians still like to know where early flying took place. Ace presented a slide show and talk on the project at the meeting.

-Another past meeting below-

B-47 Stratojet: Cold War Warriors Gather

A large number of chapter members turned out for our February meeting at the Cattlemans Restaurant in Livermore to hear a panel discussion on the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. Larry Rinek (sitting on the left) detailed the history of America's first swept-wing bomber, which was followed by talks from three B-47 aircrew members. Panelists included Lt. Col. Bruce Bailey (sitting, far right) who was an electronic warfare officer in RB-47 electronic spy planes. Col. Dick Koepke (seated second from the right), a B-47 pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours, and Capt. Jack Leathers (standing), a B-47E driver.
Each B-47 aircrewman detailed his flying experiences, which varied greatly. This was followed by a lengthy question and answer session with members putting forth some excellent questions.
Col. Bailey is the author of three fact-basd fiction stories of his exploits in electronic warfare. Written under the pen-name R. Adam Solo, As the Crow Flies, Essential, But Expendable, and Rencounter were available at the meeting, or online at: http://www.2.xlibris.com/bookstore/index.asp
In addition to the panel of speakers, we had another tough trivia contest as well as a brief slide presentation by Nick Veronico of the aircraft currently stored at Mojave, California, post Sept.11, 2001.


 

XB-70inflight.jpg

Details about the December 1, 2001 meeting...

Meeting location was in Santa Clara CA


Joe Cotton: The Philosophy of Flying
Joe Cotton, one of the fastest men alive, discussed his flying career that took him beyond the sound barrier in the XB-70. Cotton discussed his philosophy of flying, how it has motivated him, and how it has changed his outlook on life.

 

Rongerdesnasa.jpg

Meeting of October 6, 2001

Meeting location was in So.S.F. CA


Ron Gerdes: Flying NASA's VTOL Aircraft

Ron Gerdes (NC36) was the chapter's featured speaker at our last meeting, Saturday, October 6th. Ron discussed his career as a NASA test pilot and detailed his extensive flying time in vertical take-off and landing aircraft such as the X-14 and XV-15 tilt rotor proof of concept aircraft (see below). Ron joined the AAHS in 1956 (National #35), flew F9F-2 jets in Korea, and joined NACA (later NASA) in 1957. He became a test pilot in 1961 and has flown the following aircraft as a NASA engineering test pilot: F-86F, F-100C, F-104N, AV-8C, C-47, C-141A, Lear Jet 23-24-25, X-22A, OH-6, OH-58, UH-1, CH-47, CH-53, and SH-3. Ron was project pilot on these aircraft: X-14A & B, XV-15, and YAV-8B.

XV15NASA.jpg

Meeting of June 2, 2001 Location: San Carlos, CA

Event:

Hellcats Over the Pacific

Cmdr. Hamilton "Mac" McWhorter

Hamilton "Mac" McWhorter III was the first ace to achieve his victories in the Grumman F6F "Hellcat". McWhorter was designated a Naval Aviator on Jan. 22 1942, and was commisioned an Ensign on Feb. 9, 1942. Based on the Ranger with VF-9, he participated in the North African Invasion (Operation Torch). When VF-9 went to the Pacific aboard Essex, McWhorter was aboard.

His first aerial victories were scored on Oct. 5 1943, near Wake Island, when he downed one confirmed Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke", and another was claimed as a probable. The following month, on Nov. 11, McWhorter downed two Zekes plus a probable near Rabaul. Seven days later, he claimed a Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" observation float plane near Bititu, Tarawa. On Nov. 19, McWhorter scored a Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" twin engine bomber. In all, "Mac" was credited with 12 aerial victories and 2 probables.

After WWII, McWhorter became an executive officer of VF-13 based on board carriers Tarawa and the Philippine Sea. In February 1952, he went to VF-12 as exec on the carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in September of that year was promoted to commanding officer. He was promoted to Commander on July 1, 1954, and served in the Navy until retiring in July 1968. <"Mac" McWhorter will have copies of his book>The First Hellcat Ace(co-authored with Jay Stout) available for purchase and autographs. Published by Pacifica Military History, The First Hellcat Ace sells for $29.95, and can be previewed at www.pacificamilitary.com

B36.jpg

Meeting of February 3, 2001 at a Livermore location

Eighty-seven members and guests were mesemerized by the four-man panel of experts and veterans that presided over the discussion of the Convair (formerly Consolidated-Vultee) B-36 "Peacemaker" bomber of the 1940s & 50s. Larry Rinek performed as moderator, while Chuck Hansen discussed the armament, Col. Frank Yochem (USAF, Ret.) related his piloting experiences, and Bill Witt completed the picture with his encounters as an active-duty gunner. [That's also the left to right order in the picture below]

The program covered the power plants; reciprocating engines, jet engines, and nuclear generators. It further reviewed the experiment to carry a Republic RF-84F Thunderstreak or a McDonnell XF-85 Goblin in its belly as an escort fighter. The 10,000-mile range of the B-36 suggested that she should carry her own fight protection. The Thunderstreak was actually tried, but the Goblin , with its folding wings that would allow it inside the bomb bay, never made it to a B-36.

By using a slide show and a portion of the video "Strategic Air Command" Larry introduced the audience to the B-36 and reminded us of the "noise". This was followed by each member of the panel telling of their experiences and answering questions from the floor. The quantity of dialog was a good indicator of how well the program was received.

A trivia contest that was assured to fool everyone-didn't! We ran out of prizes when eight first place winners tallied their scores. This suggests that all persons that are interested in airplanes be banned from our meetings.

 

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The speaker for our December 2000 Christmas party was Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson. "Old Crow". That was the name of Col. Anderson's fighter during the European air war in the mid 1940's. This North American P-51 Mustang was the ride used by "Bud" to get 16 1/4 victories to gain his "ace" status. Combining a few slides, an animated talk, and some vivid hand motions, he kept the entire group of 93 members and guests in silent attention. The hand motions? As he explained, all fighter pilots are required to use their hands during any discussion of an air battle, it's the law!

His narration covered the combat portion of his Air Force career and also the route taken to get there; from an interest in airplanes, to primary training, to advanced training, to the real training. His talk had that fine balance of seriousness, humor, and poignancy to keep us all entertained.

After the formal meeting, "Bud" stayed on to sign copies of his book "To Fly and Fight" for those of us in attendance. On the left is past President John Symons and Clarence Anderson on the right.

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