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Society for Aviation History

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

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Our December 3, 2016 meeting

"They Stood the Watch - The Story of Patrol Squadron Eleven at NAS Kaneohe Bay"

The Society for Aviation History held its fifth meeting of 2016 on Dec. 3, at the Back Forty BBQ Restaurant in Pleasant Hill. After a hearty lunch of ribs, chicken, beans, potato salad and cookies, the meeting was called to order by President Nick Veronico who thanked everyone who had donated toys for the Teen Toy Drive. Following this, Trivia Master Bill Stubkjaer presented his dreaded quiz. Many had expected trivia questions on the venerable PBY Catalina, as it was the airplane featured in our guest speaker's talk; Stubkjaer threw a curve and instead presented "Hurricane and Typhoon and Tornado, Oh My!" about aircraft named for meteorological phenomenon. Out of 15 questions, no one got every one correct. President Veronico (SAH 4) missed only one; Dan Morgan (SAH 5) was second, missing four.

Our December presentation traced the story of Patrol Squadron Eleven (VP-11), a Navy PBY Catalina Patrol Squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, during World War II. The story detailed this PBY Catalina squadron at the beginning of the war along with the horror and panic that greeted VP-11 on Sunday, December 7, 1941. This chronicle also shows the aftermath of the attack on NAS Kaneohe and relics left behind.

David Trojan joined the Navy in 1979 and served as an Aviation Electronics Technician in various P-3 Orion patrol squadrons including: VP-1, VP-46, and VP-47 before retiring in 2000 after 21 years. Trojan left the Hawaiian Islands in December 2007 and lived for awhile in Arizona and Mississippi before settling down in Northern California near Travis AFB in 2012.

While in Hawaii, he started research projects focusing on the contents, environment, and conditions of several historic aircraft crash sites and World War II-era airfields on Oahu, Hawaii, as case studies in aviation archaeology. During the last quarter century, Trojan has researched, explored and documented more than 300+ aircraft crash sites across the country and many abandoned airfields. During his investigations, he discovered that each site had a story to tell. His goal became to educate the public about aviation history and tell the stories that go with each investigation. He has completed several long-term historical research projects in Hawaii, including the history of Patrol Squadron 11 at NAS Kaneohe during World War II and the recovery of World War II artifacts for museums.

He has written more than 50 published articles for the Hawaii Navy News, MCBH Kaneohe News, Naval Aviation Magazine, World War I Aero magazine and many local newspapers across the country. He likes to say, "Every wreck has a story to tell." He 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.

Dave Trojan has an aviation archaeology display in the Travis Heritage Center (THC). He is currently helping the THC by researching and documenting aircraft histories and aircraft accidents associated with Travis AFB.

The Society's 11th annual toy drive was held at the December meeting at the Back Forty BBQ Roadhouse in Pleasant Hill, CA. Everyone was encouraged to bring an unwrapped new toy, suitable for a teenage child. The toys wwere collected and taken to a local fire department for distribution to families in need. Over the last eleven years the Society's generous members have donated many wonderful items to less fortunate children.

A planned short hike by SAH member and airways expert Tom Johnson (SAH 135) to the Concrete Arrow on Acalanes Ridge followed after our meeting due favorable weather and trail conditions (no mud). Johnson wrote about the area's Concrete Arrows in the Summer 2015 edition of Touch & Go, saying, "There are two concrete arrow sites in the Bay Area. The site of San Francisco-Salt Lake City Beacon 1B on a hilltop in the Acalanes Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek is unusual in that there are two arrowheads. One points to the next beacon on the airway and the other points to a beacon that was at an airmail airfield in Concord.

Our October 8, 2016 Meeting

When Tigers Ruled the Sky!

In 1940, Pearl Harbor had not yet happened, and America was not yet at war with Japan. But China had been trying to stave off Japanese aggression for three years-and was desperate for aircraft and trained combat pilots.

Gen. Chiang Kai-shek sent military aviation advisor Claire Chennault to Washington, D.C., where President Roosevelt was sympathetic, but knew he could not intervene overtly. Instead, he quietly helped Chennault put together a group of American volunteer pilots.

This was how the 1st American Volunteer Group - more commonly known as the Flying Tigers - was born.

Bill Yenne, long-time friend of the Society for Aviation History and author of more than three dozen books, was on hand to discuss the Flying Tigers and his recently published When Tigers Ruled the Sky, The Flying Tigers: American Outlaw Pilots Over China in World War II. Yenne told the tale of a group of American Army, Navy, and Marine Corps pilots flying Curtiss P-40s against the Japanese, who outnumbered them 14 to 1.

Our meeting was held at the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum - Mountain View

Our members showed their generosity for the 11th consecutive year by donating food and several checks to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Our June 4, 2016 Meeting

The Development of German Warplanes in World War I

Jack Herris and our SAH Vice-president, Rick Turner

The Society for Aviation History held their third meeting of 2016, at the Spagehetti Factory in Redwood City. Filling in for President Nick Veronico and running the meeting admirably, was Vice-president Rick Turner. Nick was fullfilling his role as Public Affairs Officer during an eight-week deployment to New Zealand with SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy).

Our guest speaker Jack Herris, is a member of the League of World War I Aviation Historians, and is the contributing editor for the League's quarterly journal, Over The Front. Herris also publishes Aeronaut Books, and has written twenty books of his own on WWI aviation.

Herris's presentation, "The Developement of German War Planes in World War I", focused on the evolution of German aircraft through various generations distinguished by engine power, structural materials, and aerodynamic designs. Herris described strategic situations unique to the Germans and the Allies that influenced the types of airplanes that were developed during the Great War.

Herris has a long history with aviation. His parents started dating while carpooling together to North American Aviation during World War II. Jack's father built P-51s, including parts for the first P-51 Mustang ever built, and his mother built B-25s. In 1971 Herris graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He then served as a Naval Aviator, flying P-3B Orion aircraft with VP-46 based at NAS Moffett Field. After leaving the Navy he worked in the Laser Fusion Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, then worked in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley. He holds CFI, CFI-I, CFI-ME, ATP, and Learjet type ratings.

Join us for a great day of World War I aviation, and remember to bring a friend!

Our April 9, 2016 Meeting

Aerial Reconnaissance: Flying the RF-4C and SR-71 Blackbird

We were very pleased that for our SAH membership meeting on April 9, 2016 at Back Forty Texas BBQ in Pleasant Hill, Col. Jim Wilson (USAF, retired) was our featured speaker. Wilson graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1963 and had an extensive career flying aerial reconnais- sance in RF-4s and the famous SR-71, among other accomplishments. At the meeting he shared many of his experi- ences in detail including how he got a ride in a F-102 out of Hamilton Field at the young age of 19.   Col. James F. Wilson (USAF, ret.) graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1963, and following pilot training was assigned to the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) at Shaw AFB, South Carolina.

The 16th TRS deployed to Ton Son Nhut, Vietnam, in October 1965, where Wilson flew more than 220 tactical reconnaissance missions over South and North Vietnam, and Laos. From combat in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Wilson was assigned to the heart of the Cold War with the 32nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at RAF Alconbury, England, flying and instructing in RF-4C Phantom IIs. In August 1970, he was assigned to the 91st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Bergstrom AFB, Texas. That posting included an operational deployment to Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Returning from overseas, Wilson was assigned to the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, California. Here he served as an SR-71 pilot and squadron operations officer. After flying the world's fastest and highest flying aircraft, he was transferred to the staff of the Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, where he served as the reconnaissance operations staff officer. In this position he was responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing worldwide SR-71 missions.

After graduating from the Naval War College, and serving as deputy commander of the 381st Strategic Missile Wing, Wilson returned to Beale AFB in August 1983 to serve as deputy commander for operations of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. Two years later he was selected to command the 9th Combat Support Group, also at Beale, during which time he was promoted to the rank of colonel.

Col. Wilson retired from the Air Force in 1993, and has had an interesting post-Air Force career. One of his top priorities has been devoting a great deal of volunteer time to fundraising and building the Aerospace Museum of California, Aerospace Museum of California, located at McClellan Park, near Sacramento. He is a past President of the Museum Foundation and an emeritus director.

A planned short hike by SAH member and airways expert Tom Johnson (SAH 135) to the Concrete Arrow on Acalanes Ridge scheduled to follow after our meeting had to be cancelled due to rain. This concrete arrow was the base of the second airway light beacon on the San Francisco to New York lighted airway, which was completed in January 1929. The location is atop a ridge in the Acalanes Ridge Open Space between Lafayette and Walnut Creek. This is one of the few remaining artifacts of 1920s aviation in the Bay Area. We will try this hike again, the next time we have a meeting in this area, and the weather is better.

Back Forty Texas BBQ, Pleasant Hill, CA


San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint, March 4-6, 2016.



Friday March 4 through Sunday March 6th, the Society For Aviation History participated at an event in San Francisco called "History Days", which was held at the old United States Mint on 5th and Mission Streets. We were invited along with about 70 other historical associations to display information about our group and what we are about. We had two tables and members of our board of directors participated in educationg the public about our group and picking up some new members. Nick and Betty Veronico also kept busy autographing books at a table in the authors section.

Friday was Education Day with an estimate of 120 school children coming through, and Betty made up four different word search puzzles to cover the various ages, and we also donated pictures to the kids. Michael Stein loaned a couple of his airplane models for the kids to look at. The weekend was open to the general public for FREE, from 11-5 p.m on Saturday and 11-4 p.m. on Sunday. We gave out newsletters, trifold color brochures and had a raffle for several free memberships (We will post the winners here soon). Byron set up a very nice slide show on his laptop computer to automatically scroll through past meetings and tours our Society has visited. This was a last minute event and we were only able to advertise this on our Facebook page and via an email sent out by Byron May. Our Board members that worked the tables tirelessly without complaint were: Betty and Nick Veronico, Michael Stein, David Osgood, Rick Turner, Byron May, Rick Turner, Ron Close, and Roger Cain.

Our Saturday, February 6th, 2016 Meeting

Howard's Whirlybirds: Howard Hughes's Amazing Pioneering Helicopter Exploits

Howard Hughes, movie mogul, and aviation pioneer, has always fascinated the public, yet his legacy involving the aviation industry is often under appreciated. Hughes Helicopters was one of America's pioneering aviation companies, but few have heard of it. The company mass produced the first turbine-powered light observation helicopter, popularized the light helicopter trainer, tested a gigantic "tip-jet" powered flying crane, and developed the world's most advanced attack helicopter, the iconic AH-64 Apache. .

Hughes Helicopters also came under extremely close scrutiny by the U.S. Congress. From the Second World War to the mid-1980s, Howard's Whirlybirds tells how many of the world's most innovative helicopters were developed - the setbacks, the breakthroughs, the brilliance of the company's engineers and the test-flying bravado of fearless pilots - under the leadership of one of the most fascinating characters of the 20th century. It aims to put Hughes Helicopters in its rightful place, at the forefront of America's aeronautical history.

Author Donald J. Porter discussed his book Howard's Whirlybirds at the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum in Mountain View. Porter had an interesting career himself, having been an engineer, pilot, mechanic, communications executive in the electronics industry, and finally a senior communications writer at a state university.


To see some more of our past meetings, click below

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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