The Aerodrome is the Journal of the First Aero Squadron Foundation
You will always find the latest issue on this page.
The Aerodrome’s Editor-in-Chief is our founding President, Gene Valdes
This past August 15th the official Real Estate Contract between Bill Wehner, wife Mary McClain and the First Aero Squadron Foundation (FASF) was signed at Luna County Abstract and Title in Deming, NM. The contract and related documents were filed the same day with the Luna County Clerk’s Office. Subject to certain conditions, the FASF now holds the historic 160 acre parcel adjacent to its original 60 acre holdings. The purchase was made with a $20,000 down payment to Bill and Mary. A balance of $15,200 is due and payable on or before December 12, 2015 in order to complete the purchase of the 160 acres and deliver the deed to the FASF, which deed is now being held in escrow. As of September 15, after the $20,000 was paid out, the “Buy an Acre” Trust Fund contained $3,183. Thus, $12,017 needs to be raised to make the final payment on the 160 acres.
Of course, the 160-acre land contract was possible because of:
- the foresight and generosity of both Bill and Mary who purchased the land from their own funds (at a time when the FASF itself did not have money to do so) to ensure its preservation and then agreed to sell it to the FASF at their cost, and
- the many generous donations to the “Buy an Acre” Fund by FASF members and supporters, helping to ensure the historic parcel is preserved for posterity.
“Thanks to Bill and Mary and all the generous donors who are making this possible!”
Newest Donations by our Honor Roll of Donors
- Scott C. Schmid [pictured to the left], recently retired FASF Board Member from Deming, NM, in memory of his grandfather Lt. Colonel Earnest Francis Ewing, who was stationed in Deming during WWI;
- Richard Reeder, from Mesa, AZ, in honor of First Lieutenant Walter Scott Murray, a U.S. citizen from Oaklyn, MD, who was killed May 27, 1918 while serving in the R.F.C. in England;
- John W. Taylor, from Buffalo Grove, IL, in honor of his father, Corporal Ivan L. Taylor, who served throughout the Mexican Punitive Expedition in the 17th U.S. Cavalry;
- Major General Peter Dodd Robinson, USAF, retired, an FASF Advisory Board Member from Albuquerque, NM, in honor of his great-grandfather Brigadier General George Allan Dodd, (U.S. Army, retired), who served as a colonel under General Pershing in 1916 in the Punitive Expedition after the attack on Columbus;
- Bob Coats, from Cabool, MO, in memory of Richard O. Walker, best of friends;
- Allen Rosenberg, from Columbus, NM, in honor of his sister, Ruth S. Coleman;
- Ken Emery, retired FASF Board Member from Columbus, NM, in memory of his sister, Verda Emery Bailey, who though a non-flier, managed to reach great heights; and
- Glenn, Dee, La Porte, IN.
Any Punitive Expedition Pilots from Iowa?
We recently received an inquiry from Kris Schildberg, a volunteer at the Iowa Aviation Museum in Greenfield, Iowa. Kris is doing research on the First Aero Squadron and was told that there was a pilot from Iowa who flew or was a flight instructor during the hunt for Pancho Villa. Kris’ museum is collecting history tied to Iowa Aviation and asked for help in identifying a pilot from Iowa during the Punitive Expedition. In response to Kris’ inquiry, we turned to former FASF Board Member and Historian Ken Emery (pictured to the left). Ken has done research on a number of the First Aero Squadron pilots but thus far has not come across any who hailed from Iowa. Ken pointed out that while it’s commonly believed that there were just a handful of pilots who served on the Border in the Villa Campaign in 1916-17, there were actually over 60 pilots who were assigned at one time or another to the Columbus Aerodrome. Ken has provided a list of those 60+ pilots published in 1994 in the book Wings of Honor by James J. Sloan, Jr. Ken has researched about a third of those pilots. Unfortunately, the list does not include any information as to where the pilots are from. We have sent the list to Kris at the Iowa Aviation Museum in hopes that somebody there may recognize a name. Do any of our newsletter readers have any information regarding an Iowa pilot serving during the Punitive Expedition? If you have any such information, please simply type your response in the “LEAVE A REPLY” box at the end of this page.
HH (Pat) Patterson, from Los Lunas, New Mexico, was one of the charter members of the First Aero Squadron Foundation. Sadly, we were not aware of his passing this past Spring until a membership renewal request sent in the summer was returned by his family with a copy of a leaflet printed for HH’s memorial service. The program of his memorial included a beautiful passage by the famous novelist and pilot Stephan Coonts who authored “Flight of the Intruder.” We’ve reprinted the lines below in honor of Pat:
I am alive. Up here with the song of the engine and the air whispering on my face as the sunlight and shadows play upon the banking, wheeling wings, I am completely vibrantly alive. With the stick in my right hand, the throttle in my left, and the rudder beneath my feet, I can savor the essence from which life is made.
The FASF Board of Trustees extends their sincere condolences to HH’s family and friends.
Businesses Join the FASF
Thanks principally to the recruiting efforts of FASF President Ric Lambart, a number of local commercial and institutional establishments (25 thus far!) have signed on as business members and supporters of the FASF. In previous issues of The Aerodrome, we reported sign-ups of the following:
- Deming Visitors Center;
- Big O Tires in Deming, New Mexico;
- 1st New Mexico Bank of Deming;
- the Village of Columbus, an incorporated municipality; and
- The Pink Store across the border in Palomas, Mexico.
Businesses which have joined recently include:
- Patio Café, Columbus and Deming, NM;
- Martha’s Place, Columbus, NM (Owned by former Mayor & FASF Treasurer (below):
● Friends of Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, NM; Friends of Pancho Villa State Park;
- Morrow and Co., Certified Public Accountants, Deming, NM;
- Alma Villezcas, Public Accountant, Deming, NM;
- D & J Pump and Well Service, Deming, NM;
- Francis Aviation, Santa Teresa, NM;
- War Eagles Air Museum, Santa Teresa, NM;
- Red Arrow Aviation LLC, El Paso, TX/Santa Teresa, NM;
- PC Concepts, Inc., Deming, NM;
- Columbus Electric Cooperative, Deming, NM;
- Sun Valley Do It Best Hardware, Deming, NM (above);
- Pepper’s Supermarket, Deming, NM;
- First Savings Bank, Deming, NM (below – whose President, Josh Plasencio, is one of our Trustees);
– – – – – – – – – –
- Grand Motor Inn, Deming, NM;
- Gutierrez Enterprises: Yoya’s Convenience Market, Gas Station and Splash Car Wash, Deming, NM;
- Miller’s Garage, Columbus, NM;
- Ben Longwill, Attorney-at-Law, Las Cruces, NM;
- Diaz Farms, Deming, NM (below photo);
– – – – – – –
More Individual Members Sign-Up!
Recruitment efforts have not only paid off in attracting local business to join the FASF but more individuals have signed on as well. New members who have joined since the last issue of The Aerodrome include:
- Roy Mantei, Jr., Deming, NM;
- McLean “Mac” Grant, Potomac, MD;
- Nancy Welz Aldrich, author and FASF Website Article Contributor, Weslaco, TX;
- Gilbert Echerivel, Wittman, AZ;
- Michael J. Wilkeson, Race car owner and driver, El Paso, TX;
- Manuel Gradillas, San Antonio, TX;
- Carlos Sepulveda, Well known local antique automotive restorer, Columbus, NM;
- Robert N. Clarke, One of founding organizers of the Columbus Cabalgata, Deming, NM;
- Josh Placensio, Deming, NM;
- Bruce Salas, City of Columbus Councilman, Columbus, NM;
- July McClure, Local author, writer, musician, and actress, Columbus, NM;
- Glenda Sanchez, Director of the Columbus-Palomas Cabalgata Event, Columbus, NM;
- Brian Miller, Albuquerque, NM; and
- Ruth S. Coleman, Columbus, NM.
In addition to our new members, we have had a number of members who have renewed their membership for another year. These include:
- Suzanne Azar, Aviator & first and only female Mayor of El Paso, TX;
- Edwin Barland, Marietta, GA;
- Richard Hallion, Shalimar, FL;
- George Mock, Anderson, IN;
- Major Jason G. Adams, USAF Las Cruces, NM;
- William Wehner, Former President of the FASF, Columbus, NM;
- Mary McClain, Columbus, NM;
- Michael E. Owen, Tucson, AZ;
- John W. Taylor, Buffalo Grove, IL;
- Robert Louderback, Cincinnati, OH;
- Charles Bogart, Frankfort, KY;
- Leonard Shurtleff, Gainesville, FL;
- Francis Scott, Readfield, ME;
- Alan, Fisher, Former Commanding Officer of AFROTC NMSU, Fairacres, NM;
- Barney Landrey, Hamilton, OH;
- Allen Rosenberg, Columbus, OH;
- Bob Coats, Cabool, MO;
- Frank Stephenson, Murfreesboro, TN;
- Christopher C. Brown, Tucson, AZ;
- James Beyer, Fayetteville, TN;
- Lt. Col. Stephen C. Rodriguez, (Former CO FAS BAFB, CA) Hampton, VA;
- Ron Massicot, Breaux Bridge, LA;
- Larry Benedict, Dexter, NM;
- Win Mott, Columbus, NM;
- Lloyd Arnold, Columbus, NM;
- Alfred Kitch, Riverside, IL;
- Peter F. Oesper, Taos, NM;
- Oscar Bayer, Arroyo Grande, CA;
- Keith Beasley, Albuquerque, NM;
- Brook Hindes, Las Cruces, NM;
- Byrd Raby, Normandy, TN;
- Stephen Owens, Grants, NM;
- Donald Harrell, Brownsville, CA;
- William Miller, Columbus, NM;
- June Riddle, Columbus, NM;
- Glen Desplinter, Milan, IL;
- Thomas Chase, Green Bay, WI;
- Michael J. Stokes, Chino, CA;
- Ken Emery, Columbus, NM;
- Andrew Emery, Seattle, WA;
- Dr. E.R. Worthington, Las Cruces, NM;
- Buddy McGowen, Jr., Bryan, TX; and
- Michael Kihntopf, Schertz, TX.
How To Renew If A Past Member
Your address label on the envelope in which your newsletter was enclosed. It notes your renewal date. Whatever the date—even if the date is passed—you can renew by simply sending us a check for $20 (students and active military $10), noting on it “Membership renewal.” About one month before renew dates, written reminders are sent by mail with an enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope. The FASF depends on its renewals to finance its everyday operational costs such as the cost to print and mail out this newsletter. Also, many funding sources, such as Foundations, look at the sustained membership (i.e. renewals) as an important indicator of an organization’s staying power. We want to thank all of you who have recently renewed your membership in the FASF and we invite those whose renewal dates will be coming up (or even have passed) to stay with us. Your continued support is appreciated!
Columbus Mayor Philip Skinner (pictured on left) and the Trustees of the Village of Columbus recently unanimously approved the annexation of the 220 acres of historic landmarked property now owned by the FASF. The FASF strongly supported the annexation in order to have access to city utilities as well as to obtain an airport zoning ordinance which would protect the property’s restored old Columbus Municipal Airport’s runway. The FASF Board thanks Columbus Mayor Philip Skinner and the Village Trustees for their support of the annexation ordinance.
Introducing Our 2 New Board Members
Two new FASF Trustees have been appointed and elected by the Board of Trustees to fill the remaining terms of former Trustees Cathy Myers and Dr. Lew Stratton.
Lt. Colonel Ira Cline, US Air Force, (pictured to the left) is the commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 505 at NM State University in Las Cruces. Colonel Cline is a senior pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours, of which over 600 are combat hours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The FASF’s newest Trustee, Joshua G. “Josh” Placensio, (below right) was born and raised in El Paso, where he earned a degree in Business Admin. from the U. of Texas at El Paso. Josh worked his way up through the banking world, gaining invaluable experience at Wells Fargo Bank. He is currently President of the First Savings Bank of Deming, NM, a business sponsor of the FASF.
Welcome aboard, Ira and Josh! Your experience and expertise are invaluable to the organization!