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Society for Aviation History

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

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2012 SAH General Meetings, Tours,
and Educational Programs

Our Dec. 1, 2012 meeting

Capt. Les Williams, Tuskegee Airman


The Society for Aviation History held its annual meeting of 2012 on Dec. 1, 2012, at Fiorillo's Restaurant in Santa Clara, Calif. As is usual for our "Holiday Meeting", the attendance was excellent with more than 60 members and guests attending. Our guest speaker for this meeting was Capt. Les Williams, Tuskegee Airman.

Tuskegee Airmen is the term used to describe the black fighter pilots of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later incorporated into the 332nd Fighter Group, who fought during World War II. These U.S. Army Air Corps were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen consisted of pilots, navigators, mechanics, staff, and other personnel - 996 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946, approximately 445 were deployed overseas, and 150 Airmen lost their lives in accidents or combat. The casualty toll included 66 pilots killed in action or accidents, and 32 had fallen into captivity as prisoners of war.

Les Williams is one of only a few original Tuskegee Airmen surviving today. He trained in Tuskegee for nine-months. While he was training, the Department of War expanded the Tuskegee Airmen's role from just flying fighters to flying bombers. Williams was one of nine in the first class of black bomber pilots commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps.

Williams was born in San Francisco and raised locally in San Mateo. He graduated High School at 14 years of age and learned to be a professional dancer. His dancing is what ultimately led him to Tuskegee and flying. After the war, he returned to San Mateo, opened a dance studio (it's said Famous NFL star Lynn Swann got some of his moves there) and went to Stanford University to receive his law degree.

"Victory: Tales of a Tuskegee Airman" is a book that Williams wrote about his experiences, which he discussed at our holiday meeting. He had copies available for sale and for signing.

Our Meeting - Oct. 6

Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers


The Society for Aviation History held its fall general meeting on Oct. 6, 2012, at Francescos Restaurant in Oakland. The subject of the meeting, as presented by member Andy Melomet (SAH 57), was the origin of military stock footage used in the 1956 science fiction film "Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers". It was directed by Fred F. Sears, and was based on a book by Donald E. Keyhoe. It starred Hugh Marlowe, who played Lt. Col. Gately in the movie Twelve O'Clock High, and Joan Taylor. As can be surmised by the title, the basic plot of this movie revolves around an invasion of Earth by "flying saucers" and how the aliens were destroyed.

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.

In addition to Andy Melomet's presentation, SAH member Nicholas A. Veronico (SAH 4) introduced his newest book Convair PB4Y-2 Privateer. Many SAH members have contributed to this work during the past 20+ years Veronico has been working on it. This book is part of co-author Steve Ginter's Naval Fighters Series. The 240-page book retails for $49.95 and was available at a special SAH members-only price of $39.95 (saving you the cost of shipping).

Our June 2nd meeting

B-17 Flying Fortress in Israeli Air Force Service

Alex Yofe, the foremost authority on the formation and early operations of the Israeli Air Force, will be our speaker at the June Meeting. Yofe will discuss the connection between the nascent Israeli Air Force and aircraft brokers/overhaul operations in California - the source of many of its aircraft in the post-war World War II and Cold War periods.

He is also the author of numerous books on Israeli Air Force piston-powered aircraft including the Avia 199, Spitfire, B-17 Flying Fortress, and has two forthcoming books detailing the service of the P-51 Mustang and de Havilland Mosquito.

Copies of the Spitfire and B-17 book will be available for sale from the author.

Remember to bring a friend!

Date/Time: June 2, 2012

SAH Field Trip - June 16, 2012

Pacific Coast Air Museum



Saturday June 16th from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M.

Whats Going On?

PCAM is having a "Night at the Museum" open-to-the-public very casual out-door event at their museum. They are going to have light snacks and beer for sale. All of their outdoor aircraft (about 30), with eight featured aircraft will be on display and some pilots who have flown them will be available. A few will be opened up. We suggest getting there early.

We suggest reviewing their website: Pacific Coast Air Museum for general information on their museum, aircraft collection, and this event. It will also  provide directions.

There will not be reserved tables, seating is open.

Cost: $10 per person (at the gate)

Visit our Facebook site if you're a FB member and looking to carpool, driving or looking to share a ride and fuel expenses.

April 14th meeting 

Arc Light One B-52 Missions

President Alice Hendricks opened our second general meeting of the year at Michaels at Shoreline restaurant in Mountain View by welcoming our guest speaker Don Harten, who was a co-pilot on the first U.S. Air Force B-52F "Arc Light One" mission of the Vietnam War. On June 18, 1965, thirty B-52s took part in the first Strategic Air Command B-52 bombing mission in Vietnam, a mission that, if carried out successfully, might have brought the war to an early end. But before two of the bombers could deliver their payload, they collided in midair, both planes exploding over the South China Sea.

Then-Lt. Don Harten, a copilot on the mission, survived the collision and parachuted into the ocean. After 16 hours in the water he was rescued by an SA-16 Albatross amphibian. Before the Albatross could return to base, it lost an engine and crashed back into the sea. Harten brings this story of survival and camaraderie to life in his book Arc Light One, and was on hand to recount his miraculous true story of survival.

After more than 360 hours of combat flying in the B-52, Harten volunteered for another assignment and was selected to fly the F-105. He flew 156 combat missions in the F-105, 130 of them over North Vietnam. He subsequently flew the F-111 on 30 combat missions, and was the only person to fly the B-52, F-105, and F-111 in combat. Harten had copies of his books available for sale at the talk at an incredible discounted price for SAH members only.

Meeting Location:  Mountain View, CA, April 14, 2012

11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday February 4, 2012

Republic XR-12 Rainbow and the Hughes XF-11

Our February  presentation was by aviation artist and author Mike Machat on the Republic XR-12 Rainbow and the Hughes XF-11. Machat recently released "World's Fastest Four-Engine Piston-Powered Aircraft: Story of the Republic XR-12 Rainbow." Machat is a well-known American aviation personality who has dedicated his career to the preservation and documentation of aviation history. Originally from Long Island, New York, Machat served in the U.S. Air Force and with the National Security Agency before relocating to Los Angeles and earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach. He was hired as an illustrator for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation and advanced through the ranks to become a Staff Artist and corporate representative.

Mike then established his own aviation art studio and was elected first president of the American Society of Aviation Artists. He served as president of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and was a senior flight-rated member of the U.S. Air Force Documentary Art Program. Mike's aviation artwork won numerous awards and four of his paintings reside in the permanent collection of the National Air & Space Museum. He painted murals for the Bob Hope Airport terminal in Burbank, California, and the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards AFB. As an aviator, Mike holds an FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate, has flown in more than 200 different types of aircraft, and has logged 2,000 flights in sailplanes.

 The society had copies of Machat's books available for purchase at a discounted price.

To see some more of our past meetings, click below

2011 meetings

2010 meetings

2009 meetings

2008 meetings

2007 meetings

2006 meetings

2005 meetings

2004 meetings

2003 and earlier

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