A few days ago, at their monthly meeting, the Daedalian Flight 24, all long-time members of the FASF, tried out a new meeting location in picturesque downtown historic El Paso, Texas. They had most recently been convening at the Ft. Bliss Golf Club but missed the elegance and efficiency of the old El Paso Club, which was also downtown.
The Daedalians had held their regular monthly meetings at the El Paso Club for some 37 years, but it was closed because of the COVID pandemic and has not yet re-opened. In the meantime, the group decided to try the historic ANSON ELEVEN restaurant as a substitute gathering facility. The ANSON is dedicated to the memory of General Anson Mills, who built the building in which the restaurant (named in his honor) is located, back in 1911, thus the number after his first name of Eleven. Interestingly, General Mills was the actual designer of El Paso as a city, drafting the plans back in the late 19th Century while stationed at Ft. Bliss. General Mills, after retiring from the U.S. Army, became an extremely successful entrepreneur and millionaire.
Below are a few photos taken of the Daedalian Meeting (Click any picture for hi-resolution):
L to R above: Early arrivals; Col. Bob Pitt, Julie Pitt, Connie Sullivan, Marian Diaz, Josiane Solana, Gerry Wingett, Roger Springstead, Jerry Dixon, Col. Mario Campos, and Judy Campos, Virg Hemphill, and Kathleen Martin.
L to R above: Marian Diaz, Josiane Solana, Gerry Wingett, Roger Springstead, Jerry Dixon, Col. Mario Campos (Flight Captain), Judy Campos, Virg Hemphill, and Dr.Kathleen Martin.
L to R above members and guests watching “An American Love Affair” about the Curtiss Jenny . . . Mariana Diaz, Josiane Solana, Gerry Wingett, Roger Springstead, Jerry Dixon, Melissa, and Alan Fisher . . .
Clockwise from lower R: Mariana Diaz, Josiane Solana, Gerry Wingett, Roger Springstead, Jerry Dixon, Julie Pitt, Melissa Fisher, Cols. Alan Fisher and Mario Campos, Judy Campos and Ulla Rice . . .
This past Wednesday, at El Paso’s Fort Bliss golf club, Daedalian Flight 24 entertained some of the upper class AFROTC Cadets from New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Detachment 505.
This gave the Cadets a good chance to get to know an active duty Air Force pilot, the luncheon’s presenter, along with a number of Daedalian former USAF, Navy and Marine aviators, as well.
Many of the Daedalians, all of whom are long time FASF members, also entered the USAF from ROTC units. The guest visit was arranged by FASF member, Air Force Academy graduate, and Daedalian Flight Commander, Colonel Alan Fisher.
Uniquely enough, well over twenty years earlier, Col. Fisherhad been the Air Force Commander of these Cadet’s own AFROTC Detachment 505 at NMSU.
The guest speaker, Major Max Weaver, USAF, is from Arizona. He was raised in a family that valued service; his father served in the US Army and both his parents were police officers. In high school Maj Weaver joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) which gave him his first actual flight experience flying in CAP unit Cessna 172s. After High School, he majored in Foreign Area Studies at the Air Force Academy and spent a semester abroad in Nanjing, China where he learned their Mandarin dialect. He graduated with honors and was commissioned in 2011.
Next he attended joint Undergraduate Pilot Training with the Navy at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field, flying the Texan T-6B II. See below photo.
U. S. Navy T-6 III Trainer
Maj. Weaver earned his wings in the T-1 “Jayhawk” at Vance AFB in 2013. Photo below:
USAF Multi-engine Trainer, Beechcraft T-1 Jayhawk
His first post flight training assignment was flying the C-17 Globemaster at McChord AFB, Washington. He accrued over 1,000 hours in the C-17 and saw duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Japan, and many other countries delivering mission critical cargo and supporting Presidential operations. Globemaster III photo below.
McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III
In 2016 he began training on the MQ-9 “Reaper” at Holloman AFB, NM. His next assignment was to Ellsworth AFB, SD where he flew the Reaper Drone a total of 1,100 hours. These Close Air Support missions were flown in Iraq and Afghanistan to support ground forces fighting ISIS in the liberation of Raqqa and other territories. Reaper photos below.
he USAF MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV – or Drone)
The Reaper has also been found useful in fighting forest fires.
As can only be experienced as a UAV or Drone pilot, Major Weaverflew all of these combat missions from a safe haven at an Air Force Base in the continental U.S. In 2020 he was transferred to Holloman AFB as an MQ-9 instructor pilot. He currently serves in that capacity and also as a Wing Flying Safety Officer while instructing students in the Air Force’s largest MQ-9 formal training program.
In his presentation to the Daedalians and guest AFROTC Cadets, he used the projector screen to show us some of the aircraft in which he accumulated his flight experience . . . including the Reaper.
Here, below, are some of the photos from Wednesday’s event. To see them in full high resolution simply click on the photos:
Colonel Fisher,Daedalian Flight Commander, greets arriving members and guests.
L to R: Cadets Preston Kaplan and Patrick Sambrano waiting be be introduced.
L to R: Colonel Mario Campos, Cadets Sukarno, Malone, Baca, Soliz, Kaplan and Sambrano.
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreet, with Col. Bob Pitt, Larry Spradlin, and Colonel Mario Campos
L to R: Charlie Overstreet, his brother,Lane (a former AF fighter & bomber pilot, PAA pilot), and Roger Springstead
L to R: Pete Brandon pours water for Colonel Pitt, whose head of hair is at right.
L to R: Cadet Dzaki Sukarnoand USAF Pilot to be, Cadet Joshua Soliz
Roger Springstead, Lane Overstreet, Virg Hemphill, Jerry Dixon, Charlie Overstreet, Cadets Sukarno, Solizand Mayre Overstreet
Flight 24 Captain Colonel Alan Fisher opens the meeting
USAF Cadet Dzaki Sukarnoexplained his Cadet status and USAF intentions.
L to R: Mayre, Charlie and Lane Overstreet, Cadet Soliz, Roger Springstead Virg Hemphilland Cadet Sukarno
L to R: Cadet Kaplan and Larry Spradlin listen to Cadet Sambrano speaking – while Shelly Schlick servesLarry
Major Weaver puts his beloved C-17 Globemaster III on screen to describe his experiences piloting it
Next Major Weaver showed slides of what it looked like from a Tanker aircraft while refueling the C-17
Daedalians and guests listen intently as Major Weaver related his USAF career path to date
After his presentation, Colonel Fisher (R) presented Major Weaver (L) with a token of our appreciation for his talk
FASF Aviation News Scout and Daedalian, Virg Hemphill (R) engaged in USAF banter with Major Weaver (L)
Cadets posed with Major Weaver after the luncheon . . . L to R: Kameron Baca, Patrick Sambrano, Joshua Soliz, Maj. Max Weaver, Dzaki Sukarno, Preston Kaplanand Daniel Malone.
Long-time Life Member of the FASF and also VP of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) Chapter 1570 in nearby Santa Teresa, NM, John Signorino,*was the special speaker at the local Daedalian Flight 24 meeting held at Fort Bliss’ Golf Club, yesterday. This was the first real meeting since early last year, all because of the restrictions placed upon social gatherings throughout Texas because of COVID.
Although many members are still not ready to attend regular meetings, the Flight did get a reasonable post-COVID turnout of 19 attendees. Johnhad been scheduled to give his address to the Flight late last Summer, but that and several other attempts to have him speak were all canceled because of pandemic restraints and the closing of our various venues.
Normally the Flight meets each month at the Old downtown El Paso Club, but the Club has remained closed ever since the first lockdown order in March of 2020. The Flight expressed their thankfulness to John for his patience at having been canceled so many times.
The main thrust of John’stalk was focused on his post-military experience with the EAA along with the founding of Chapter 1570, back in 2015. Since its beginnings, the Chapter has accomplished many notable achievements, but the one Johnfeels most significant is its highly successful Young EagleEvents. Except for 2020, because of the pandemic lock-downs, each previous year the Chapter has hosted at least one, sometimes even two Young Eagle Events. Here is one of our posts of one of the last, pre-COVID, flights.
It is this Young Eagle enterprise that John feels will help overcome the country’s looming severe shortage of pilots. How? Because it introduces the nation’s youth to the thrill and challenges of becoming a pilot while still quite young. This popular EAA youth program gives free airplane rides and introductions to flight to youngsters from 8 to 17 years old. It also gives grants and/or scholarships to young teenagers so that they can undergo actual flight training, often paying for the achievement of their Private Pilot’s License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
While Drones are a huge new development in aviation, there will nevertheless still be a serious requirement for hands-on-aviators in the foreseeable future. Both the Airlines and U.S. Military services have expressed serious concerns about the coming shortage of new pilots. One of the major issues facing those who do want to become aviators is the current-day high cost of pilot training. When yours truly learned to fly back during WWII (1944), the cost was not all that significant.
Here, below, is a short (2:52 minute) video clip about John’stopic, YOUNG EAGLES.
Here are some photos taken at yesterday’s meeting. Virtually all local Daedalians are long-time members of the FASF, and John is one of the FASF distinguished LIFE MEMBERS because he gave full days of his professional helicopter pilot-time during our 2019 joint exercise with the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers‘ Geographic 3D Project Team when they spent a week in Columbus during June and July of 2019 3D mapping the historic 1916 Army Airfield’s topography and that of the surrounding Camp Furlong terrain. During that operation, John was directly responsible for the taking of well over 30,000 high-resolution photographs of our area from another Life FASF member, Mike McNamee’s, former (and fully-restored) Army “SCOUT” helicopter. Mike’s light-weight rotary-wing machine had several other affectionate nicknames: the “LOACH” and/or the “LITTLE BIRD.”
Col. Alan Fisher opens his first meeting as the Flight’s new Captain.
L to R: Alan Fisher asks Roger Springstead, Flight Chaplain, to give the meeting blessing.
Chatting before meeting begins are two long-time FASF members and also Aviation News Scouts, Virg Hemphill (L) and Jerry Dixon (R)
(L) Speaker John Signorino and FASF Trustee, Dr. Kathleen Martin, an oft-times guest of the Daedalians
Virg Hemphill, Flight Treasurer, gives his report to the group.
L to R: Alan Fisher, Julie Pitt, Mario Campos, Kathleen Martin, and Mark Pfluger. John Signorinois at the podium.
John Signorino describes the EAA Young Eagles
Captured in foreground during John’s presentation are Gerry Wingett, Mary Barnes, & Roger Springstead (back).
Col. Bob Pitt, Julie Pitt, Mark Pfluger, Mario Campos, Ulla & Col. Rice, Gill Gonzales+ on Screen, Yours Truly in 1955!
More of John.
John makes a point.
L to R: Colonel Fisher gives John a token of Flight 24’s appreciation.
John Signorino retired in 2012 from the military with 28 years of service. John enlisted in the Army shortly after high school at the age of 18. He began his career as an electronic technician working on land-based telephone communication and microwave relay stations. Six years after joining the Army he was selected to attend Warrant Officer Flight Training.
During John’s flying career he flew both helicopter and fixed-wing airplanes. He was qualified in the UH-1H, TH-67, AH-64A, C-12, RC-12H, and Dash 7. John served as an instructor pilot and a safety officer and served multiple tours in Korea, Iraq, Bosnia, and South America.
During his military career, John proved himself to be a self-motivated, take-charge individual who has held several significant and vital positions. John is an exceptional leader and trainer. While in various positions, he provided excellent leadership skills and direction that promoted the sharing and encouragement of new ideas. As a teacher and mentor, he helped to counsel others on numerous occasions and has willingly shared his vast wealth of knowledge and experience with less experienced personnel.
While in the Army, John was called upon to work long and arduous hours often under stressful conditions while maintaining an exemplary and professional manner. He has shown himself to be an exceedingly dedicated and superbly organized individual. He is a proven team player and does not hesitate to provide constructive suggestions to improve operations.
John has had an entrepreneurial mindset since he was a teenager. While in the military, he started two successful businesses. After retiring, John was selected to Oklahoma State University Veterans Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. In 2013, John opened a Pop-A-Lock franchise in El Paso which specialized in auto, residential, and commercial locksmith work.
John demonstrated that he learns quickly and is readily able to self-teach himself complex tasks. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle University, where he majored in business management. He also obtained his MBA from Grantham University, where his academic focus was on project management.
John’s hobbies include motorcycles, hiking, and camping. He’s been married to his wife Mindy for 25 years. They have two children, a daughter, and a son, both of whom followed their father’s footsteps by joining the military right after high school. John and his wife currently live in El Paso, Texas.
John is an exceptionally active member of the local, Santa Teresa Chapter 1570 of the EAA and has been its Vice President since it first opened its doors in June 2015. He continues to fly both fixed and rotary-winged aircraft in the General Aviation field.
The following photos were taken at the annual Christmas Luncheon for Daedalian Flight 24 at the El Paso Club, All members of the Flight are active members of the FASF. The guest of honor and presenter at the event was Army Aviator, General Laura Yeager(no relation to the famous American Test Pilot, Chuck Yeager!), who briefed the members on her mission at Fort Bliss as Commander of the JOINT TASK FORCE NORTH. All of the below photos are in high-resolution and can be more fully appreciated by simply clicking on them.
FASF members, Col. Bob Pitt(L) chats with (at center) Aviation Hall of Famer, Bob Dockendorf, at Daedallian holiday event. AT the podium, at right, in the background is Flight Captain Roger Nichols.
Daedalians and guests prepare for General Yeager’s presentation . . . Her staff is at left: Aide de Camp, Capt. Sperry,and USAF Sergeant Oliver. The General’s Command is a Joint Command, composed of all the military services.
L to R: Julie and Col. Bob Pitt,Roger Nicholsand Bob Dockendorf
L to R at wall: Alma Villezcas, Virg and Jenine Hemphill, Lt. Pfluger, David Ginn, Alan and Melissa Fisher, and forefront, Julie Pitt, District Court Judge Angie Juarez Barilland her husband, Patrick Barill
L to R: Loading up their buffet lunch, Bob Dockendorf,Judy Campos,Alan and Melissa Fisher
Brig. General Laura L Yeager opens her presentation
General Yeagerexplains how her Command coordinates with many other Federal Agencies in its mission.
Col. Bob Pitt and General Yeager
L to R: Outgoing Flight Captain, Roger Nichols, Gen. Yeager, Sgt. Oliver, Capt. Sperry and Col. Pitt
L to R: Gen. Yeager chatting with Cadet Ammber Valverde, the youngest FASF member and UTEP student.
Col. Alan Fisherspeaking with Cadet Ammber Valverde
L to R: Ammber Valverde, Gen. Yeager, and Alma Villezcas, FASF Treasurer
The following photos and the video are of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron 24 Christmas party in Las Cruces, NM.
L to R: Michelle Phillips, William Benziger Juanita and Robert Macklin, Alan Fisher, and Walter Dutton, at whose home the event was held.
In front row kneeling or sitting are, L to R: Alan and Melissa Fisher, Ric Lambart,Walter and Barbara Dutton, and in the rear: Alma Villezcas, Travis McKenzie, Jim and Luann McConnell, Damien and Carol Blaschka, Robert and Juanita Macklin, William Benziger, Michelle Phillips, and Michael LeGendre.