Long discussed and requested, it finally came to pass: The FASF presented its history, and how that history resulted in the actual creation of Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB), all our other Air Bases, Army Airfields and U.S. Naval Air Stations across the world, and, in fact, left virtually no place on earth unaffected by both the military and civilian aviation era that was born in Columbus, NM in 1916 and 17.
Yours truly had the privilege of presenting the unique First Aero Columbus history of how American Air Power was born during the Punitive Expedition of 1916, and of how American Civil Aviation was contemporaneously also re-born – – – and in the same place.
Thanks to a special invitation of the base’s Operation Group’s Commander, Colonel Jeff “Tank” Patton (left above), an FASF member, his troops had the opportunity to learn many new things about their own, the nation’s, and the Air Force’s actual history.
49th peronnel file into the HAFB Theater to hear more about their history. Photo by Col. Patton. The woman in the center left front row corner is the HAFB Historian, Martha Whipple.
Among the estimated 400 some odd airmen at the Base Theater on Tuesday of this week, only a small handful actually knew of this part of their history, the very history it is the mission of the FASF to help protect and preserve for future generations.
Colonel Patton is the Commander of the 49th Operations Group at Holloman. His Group maintains and manages Air Combat Command’s most complex and diverse airfield and airspace operations, with three live-fire air-to-ground ranges and more than 58 thousand square miles of military operating airspace.
The Group also supports remotely piloted aircraft (“RPA“), the deadly MQ-9 Reaper,” Air Education and Training Command’s F-16,German Air Force Tornado flight training, Joint test operations, and NASA, while providing combat ready Airmen for worldwide combat commitments. There are several RPA MQ-9 Reaper photos at the end of this post.
Here are some photos of this week’s event:
Colonel Patton (R) Discusses the program as Lambart (L) listens. This photo is courtesy of Lt. Colonel Trevor “Phantom” Merrell, the 49th operation Group’s 9th Attack Squadron Commander.
Lambartpointing to one of the FASF Power Point Slides during his presentation. Photo by Col. Tank Patton.
Lambartduring the lecture. This and the below photo were also taken by Lt. Col. Trevor “Phantom” Merrell.
Col. Patton presents Lambart with the special commemorative “Challenge Coin” of the 49th Operations Group in appreciation to the FASF for its presentation.
Here are some photos of the MQ-9 Reaper RPA’s and F-16 Vipers used by the 49th:
MQ-9 “Reaper” remotely piloted aircraft are lined up in the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hanger at HAFB. Taken by J. M. Eddins, Jr.
MQ-9 Reaper Firing an air to ground missile. USAF photo
The sun rises over an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Courtesy of J.M. Eddins, Jr.
A Reaper crew at their work-station ‘cockpit. From thousands of feet above the terrain, the Reaper crews can focus in on targets with incredible sharpness, often with enough magnification to read license plates on vehicles. USAF photo.
While we’ve all heard of the new DRONE rage, have we ever before seen anything even approaching this sort of orchestration? Hardly. This TIME Magazine special cover event seems to be a first for such an extravagant enterprise – – – 1,000 individual Drones flying in perfect synchronization in order to achieve the desired result. Just imagine creating the software to bring this plan to a successful reality.
Without further ado, here is the short (4:28 long) video of not only the final effect of the project, but of a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes efforts that made it all possible.
Some of our FASF Drone enthusiasts, such as Bob Wright, John Read, and Warren Talbot have already created some footage for our site, so if any of you out there have some interesting airborne videos from your Drone flights, please let us know and we might be able to share those videos with our viewers right here, too.
Remember, the U.S. Military is already deeply involved in the use and development of their own DRONE technology. All branches of our Military establishment, however, prefer their own nomenclature for their DRONE ops, preferring to call them UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) rather than Drones. The Army and Marines are using UAV craft as small as an insect, to as large as the GLOBAL HAWK and even full-sized multi-engined aircraft.
The earliest genuinely successful DRONE or UAV technology was likely first experienced during WWII with the use of DRONES (as they were then called) for target towing missions, but this soon evolved into actual combat applications (see videos below). When one considers that modern computer technology was not available in that era, what was done with simple radio remote controls is impressive.
Interestingly, the small private aircraft called the MOONEY MITE, a single place ship, is and example of what was done after WWII, when wartime Drone work and design helped lead to concepts such as the small primarily wooden constructed MOONEY MITE plane, a small ship designed to fulfill an expected new market made up of returning WWII fighter pilots. It’s designer, Al Mooney, had worked earlier for the CULVER AIRCRAFT COMPANY just prior to and during WWII, where he was the principle designer of the CULVER CADET an airplane which is discussed in the short (3:45) video immediately below:
Here, again below, are some short videos to show how DRONES were used, long before either computers or even TV were known to the general public. This first video is 1:24 in length.
As early as WWI, aviation designers and engineers could see the advantages of UAV’s, so had begun work on the concept. In the post WWI era, and especially in the 1930’s, a great deal of effort, some of it even successful, was undertaken in Great Britain, by the Royal Navy. In 1933, a modified floatplane called Fairey Queen was tested as the first flightless drone aircraft. It crashed on two out of three trials, but by 1934, Queen Bee, a modified Tiger Moth aircraft, followed with greater success.
Training gunners on these rudimentary models wasn’t a very realistic simulation, but a solution was soon to come from the United States in the form of British-born actor Reginald Denny, and his Radioplane Company. After years of trying desperately to interest the US Navy in the Radioplane-1, Denny finally succeeded in 1939, and over the course of the war some 15,374 models of Radioplane were built.
As an interesting aside, did you know that film star Marilyn Monroeonce worked assembling these radio controlled UAV’s? At that time, her later movie name wasn’t yet part of our culture, so, at Radioplane, she was known as simply Norma Jeane Dougherty, the 18 year old wife of a U.S. Merchant Marine Seaman.
Fast, agile and durable, Radioplanes were fitted with responsive radio controls and were better able to mimic the speed and agility of enemy fighters. Even during the D-Day summer of 1944, the Allies turned to high-stakes DRONE warfare. Under the code name Operation Aphrodite, radio-controlled bombers were packed with explosives and guided into the air by Allied pilots instructed to eject before their planes reached high-value targets in territory controlled by Nazi Germany. (Killed on one of these treacherous missions was the Navy aviator Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., older brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy).
Below is a USN video (8:10 long) that depicts the Navy test of a TDR-1 combat Drone in the Pacific:
As for the advent of and actual deployment of the new variety of “insect sized” UAV’s, that will have to wait for a later post, but here is some descriptive material about that avenue of research right here.
Their hosts for this visit were FASF Trustees Dr. Kathleen Martin, FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas, and Trustee Ric Lambart, all seen in the below photo. The manager of New Mexico’s esteemed Pancho Villa State Parkand Director of its renown Exhibit Hall, John Read, and his wife, Elle, both long time members of the FASF, also took part in welcoming both Dr. Dague, and the Smiths to both Columbus and its sister city, Palomas, Mexico.
Both Dr. Dague and Leigh Smith regularly conduct “Army Staff Rides” from El Paso’s Fort Blissto Columbus for the purpose of teaching Army combat history to their students from the Army’s Sergeants Major Academy. Today’s gathering was to help both Mr. Smith and Dr. Daguebecome better acquainted with Columbus, NM, and some of the people who work with its unique history, which resulted from it being the launching place of the famous response to Pancho Villa’s raid on the town in 1916, and the resulting “Punitive Expedition,” which was launched by order of then President Woodrow Wilson.
The VIP visitors from Fort Bliss gifted the FASF with some special items of historical significance regarding the Army’s Sergeants Major Academy and about the Non-Commissioned Officer’s training – – – and of their significant role in making the history of the Army itself.
Remember: To see any of the FASF Site’s photographs in High Resolution, simply click on them.
L to R above: Alma Villezcas, John Read, Elle Read, Gretta Smith, Leigh Smith, Dr. Kathleen Martin, Dr. Everett Dague,and Ric Lambart. The above photo is courtesy of the Pink Store!
After the lunch at the Pink Store, John Read demonstated his new video camera equipped drone (see below photos) with which he plans to make new aerial views of the historic FAS 1916-17 Airfield. He launched his drone from the main East West Runway of the airfield.
Above, John Read, flies his drone aloft with his remote control instrument panel. The view down the runway is East towards El Paso, TX
The drone’s quiet four rotor blades swiftly lifted the device so high above the runway that we lost sight of it altogether. Here it is returning by its own internal GPS guidance system.