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Society for Aviation History

PO. Box 7081 San Carlos, CA 94070


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2009 SAH General Meetings, Tours,
and Educational Programs

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Our December 5, 2009 Meeting

Tom Morgenfeld and his Favorite Lockheed Aircraft

Nick Veronico and Tom Morganfeld

The Society for Aviation History was honored to have Tom Morgenfeld return to discuss his favorite Lockheed Aircraft at the December annual meeting.  Morgenfeld, Chief Test Pilot for Lockheed's Skunk Works, related what it was like to fly the Lockheed Alpha Jet, F-117 Stealth Fighter, YF-22 Raptor, and briefly touched on the F-35, which he had covered extensively for us in a 2007 meeting.

This year, the retired Navy Captain and currently an instructor pilot at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, Calif., spoke to us about the variety of Lockheed aircraft he has flown, including more than 1,300 hours in the F-117 Stealth Fighter, and his time at the controls of the prototype YF-22 Raptor.

Earlier in his career, Morgenfeld was deeply involved in Project Constant Peg. This was a program to expose American fighter pilots to MiGs in mock aerial combat, and mentioned of the types he had flown, the MiG-21 was his favorite.

This was our annual holiday toy drive that is conducted in conjunction with the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Meeting Location:  Foster City, CA, December 5, 2009


About our Oct. 3, 2009 meeting

BC Thomas flying the SR-71

Alice Hendricks (presided over the meeting) and BC Thomas

The October meeting featured former Air Force test pilot BC Thomas discussing his career flying the ultimate in reconnaissance aircraft, the SR-71. After receiving his bachelor's (1964) and master's (1966) degrees in mathematics from Southern Methodist University, he attended U.S. Air Force pilot training. He began his Air Force career flying the KC-135 tanker over Europe, Vietnam, and Thailand, and then flew the C-130 in Vietnam. Returning stateside, Thomas transitioned to the B-57 and RB-57F, and subsequently attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Calif., where he flew the F-104, A-7, T-33, and T-38. From there he joined the U-2 test program, and in 1976 was assigned to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., to fly the SR-71. In 1984, Thomas was again assigned to Edwards to serve as an operational test pilot on the SR-71. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1988, and has the most time in the SR-71 (1,217.3 hours), and is the only pilot to have flown all three of the Air Force's high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft (the U-2, RB-57F, and the SR-71).

Upon retirement he joined Northrop's B-2 test program as a civilian flight test engineer/pilot, where he served until joining United Air Lines at the end of 1989. He served as a test pilot for the airline flying its Boeing 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777, as well as the Douglas DC-8 and DC-10. After 9/11, he retired from flying to teach high school mathematics. He now lives in Foster City with his wife, and his two children are away at college.

Lunch was prepared by Jeremy Sowers (SAH 171) and Phil from Emergency BBQ.

Meeting Location was Moffett Field Museum, Mountain View, CA.


Our June 13, 2009 meeting

After Andy Melomet's February 2008 program on the Walt Disney production of Victory Through Air Power, the society was overwhelmed by members clambering for a repeat presentation. The society is pleased to announce that Andy (SAH 57) has agreed to a command performance!

You may remember that Andy is a graduate of Fordham University (Rose Hill Campus) with a B.A. in Communications, and he subsequently attended the Graduate School of the Arts at New York University for Film Production. He worked for many years in the film and video industries in distribution, sales, and marketing, and served as a DVD reviewer for Home Media Retailing (formerly Video Store Magazine) from 2001-2006. Since November 2003, he has been the media reviewer/columnist for The St. Mihiel Trip-Wire, the on-line newsletter of "Trenches on the Web" and "The Great War Society."

For June's meeting, Andy will show a restored print of Memphis Belle (1944 - approximately 40 minutes plus with a selection of outtakes/deleted scenes (another 10 minutes) and discuss the film's impact and its longevity within the aviation history community. We'll enjoy the film in the comfort of the Crowne Plaza in Foster City where they've got an excellent audio system.

Remember to bring a friend!

Meeting Location:  Foster City, CA, June 13, 2009


Our past SAH meeting - April 4, 2009

Double Header: Russian Aircraft at Monino and Aviation Art

Kim Arfsten and Nat Quick

The April SAH meeting  presented two speakers on two fascinating subjects. The featured presenter of the meeting was Kim Arfsten, who presented an impressive slide show of the RussianAviation Museum at Monino. This facility is the primary testing and research facility in Russia and is similar to Wright-Patterson and Edwards Air Force Bases combined. Arfsten noted that the Soviet Union had no domestic aircraft industry until 1914, all aircraft in the country were from someplace outside the USSR.

Arfsten has had a long interest with "Red Star" aircraft having worked on the Pacific Coast Air Museum's Il-14 and having visited active Russian air bases and museums in the former East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Moscow (twice). At the conclusion of his talk, Arfsten presented the society with a framed copy of the 1908 U.S. Army Signal Corps Specification Number 486 for the first heavier than air aircraft. This contract was eventually awarded to the Wright Brothers.

Following  Arfsten’s presentation, aviation artist Nat Quick described his aviation artwork, which was on display in the meeting room. He features World War II aviation subjects that are based on actual events, rather than just a painting of an aircraft. For example, his painting of a German Me-262 being shot down by U.S. Army P-47’s occurred by accident when the Thunderbolts just happened to see the much faster jet below them, dove down, made one firing pass and managed to hit one of the German jet’s engines. While that makes the incident unique enough, the jet pilot was Adoph Galland, one of the most famous German Aces and flight commanders of the war. Quick also brought his paintings of the interception of Japanese Adm. Yamamoto by American P-38s over New Guinea, and of P-51 Mustangs flying over a downed Fw-190 in a snowy field somewhere in Germany.

Nat Quick  has painted such aircraft as the highly modified Mustangs Dago Red (when owned by Frank Taylor) and Bob Button's Voodoo.

The presentation of the first Ben Donahue Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of society co-founder Col. Ben Donahue, has been created as a way to use the numerous donations from society members in Donahue’s memory to help stimulate an aviation career in some deserving young person. The first recipient of this award is Civil Air Patrol Cadet 1st Lt. Daniel Friesen, cadet commander of Diablo Composite Squadron 44, based at Buchanan Field in Concord. Lt. Friesen received admission to the April meeting and a one-year membership. For a complete interview with Lt. Friesen, please see the March 2009 issue of Touch & Go.

The meeting concluded with a slide show by Society President Nick Veronico of his visit to the Carl Scholl’s storage yard where many parts of B-25s, B-29s, turrets, etc. are stored. Those of us that stayed on tried to imagine how many airplanes could be constructed from all the parts lying around in the desert.

Tour and Flight Opportunity in Airship Eureka

Moffett Field - March 28, 2009

By Paul Schwafel (SAH34)

On the fine spring afternoon of Saturday, March 28, 22 SAH members toured the facilities of Airship Ventures, which offers the only Zeppelin (NT) airship tours in North America. The San Francisco Bay Area is fortunate to have this Zeppelin based at Moffett Federal Airfield, offering one- and two-hour tours from either Moffett or Oakland airport, and occasionally Monterey and Santa Rosa.

A highlight of the visit was an informative talk by airship pilot James Dexter, who has amassed 9,200 hours in airships of all types worldwide. Dexter described the intricacies of airship operations, which constantly juggle parameters of weight, buoyancy, pressures, and weather to ensure safe flight. Although the Airship Ventures Zeppelin is "semi-rigid," it still relies on internal pressure of the helium bags and air bags (ballonets) to maintain structural integrity. Controlling the volume of the ballonets maintains the correct internal pressure upon the airship's outer skin.

Dexter described the ease of flying the Zeppelin compared to a blimp. The Zeppelin features propellers that rotate to vector thrust as necessary, greatly simplifying takeoffs and landings. Blimps require forward speed to allow the control surfaces to become effective, which makes takeoffs and landings "interesting," especially when winds are variable or "scary-able" according to Dexter.

The real highlight of the afternoon was a flight on the airship, which six SAH members, Norm (SAH 29) and Adrienne Zimmerman, Helen Cain (SAH 36), Dick Pollak (SAH 40), Bob Erdman (SAH 111), and Earl Holmquist (SAH 20) opted for. Earl Holmquist said that everyone was thrilled with the experience of the flight, which ended up going all the way to San Francisco and back, for a total flight time of about an hour and a half. Those members not on the flight were invited to watch the airship take off from the control tower area, closing out an enjoyable afternoon. Who doesn't like the majesty of an airship in flight?


February 7, 2009

Remembering Kalpana Chawla and STS-107 Columbia

SAH President Nick Veronico and Jean-Pierre Harrison

The first meeting of 2009 was held on Feburary 7th at the Moffett Field Museum feature Jean-Pierre "JP" Harrison, former NASA web programmer, long-time Bay Area flight instructor, In Flight USA columnist, and autogiro expert. Jean-Pierre was married to Kalpana Chawla (March 17, 1962 - Feb. 1, 2003), who, since she was a young girl in India, dreamed of flying and space flight. Chawla earned her PhD in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1988, and subsequently moved to the Bay Area to work at NASA Ames Research Center doing computational fluid dynamics research on vertical and short take-off and landing aircraft.

Jean-Pierre's talk covered Kalpana's childhood, education, interest in aviation, decision to pursue an engineering career, work at Ames, selection into the Astronaut Corps, candidate training, STS-87 and STS-107 missions, and other responsibilities during her time at Johnson Space Center.

After Jean-Pierre's talk, guests were able to tour the Moffett Field Museum, which has added a number of new displays since our last visit. The museum is also in the process of expanding, having acquired the adjoining two buildings. Admission to the museum was included in the cost of the lunch.

Lunch was provided by everyone’s favorite: Emergency BBQ!!! Since owner and chef Jeremy Sowers (SAH 171) was once a paramedic, everything has a firehouse connotation.

To see some more of our past meetings, click below

2008 meetings

2007 meetings

2006 meetings

2005 meetings

2004 meetings

2003 and earlier

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