Mike Epp, at left, is the new Director of the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at nearby Santa Teresa International Jet-Port. When long-time FASF member Robert “Bob” Dockendorfretired last year we all wondered who would fill his large shoes as Director of the museum. The mystery is now over: It is Mike Epp. Mikewas the guest presenter at last week’s monthly meeting of Daedalian Flight 24 in El Paso, Texas.
Still showing a less than average turnout as the result of the long shut-down from the pandemic, Mike still had a good sized Daedalian group assembled to witness his show, as the following photos reveal (click on any photo to see in full resolution):
L to R: Larry Spradlin and Mike Epppose for our photographer as the Daedalians and guests arrive.
L to R above: Charlieand Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob Pitt (back to camera), Larry Spradlin, Julie Pitt. guest Mary Barnes, and Colonel Melissa Fisher.
L to R: Mike Epp in discussion with an old friend, Flight Treasurer, Virg Hemphill
L to R: Colonels Mario Campos, previous Flight Captain, and Melissa Fisher.
L to R: Jerry Dixon, Col. Mario Campos, Larry Spradlin, Virg Hemphill (his back) Mike Epp, Ulla Rice and Pete Brandon. Flight Captain, Col. Alan Fisher is at podium getting ready to call the meeting to order.
L to R:Col. Fisher, Roger Springstead, Col. Fisher, Mary Barnes, Charlie Overstreet, Julie Pitt with Col. Pittgiving his Flight Adjutant’s report.
Colonel Alan Fisherasks Charlie Overstreet, a long-time Docent at the WEAM, to introduce Mike Epp.
Charlie Overstreetintroducing the meeting’s speaker, Mike Epp.
Charlie describing Mike’s background.
Presenter Mike Eppstarts his show.
Mikeproceeds to describe the WEAM and its plans for the future, with F-51 Fighter of WWII fame on screen.
L to R: Mike, Alan Fisher, Charlie Overstreet, Melissa Fisher, Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob and Julie Pitt, and Roger Springstead.
L to R: Mike explains the antique car collection, also a feature of his WEAM as Fishers listen.
L to R: Mike Epp, Julie Pitt (back to camera) Melissa and Alan Fisher, Col. Bob Pitt,Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet. On screen is one of the WEAM displays, a Cessna T-37 jet trainer.
Mike describes some of the museum’s most unique aircraft, such as the Russian MIG fighter depicted on the screen.
Mike tells the audience of his career in aviation, and how it began at an early age. After High School he joined the Army and served as an Avionics Technician in Germany. After four years service in the Army, he used the GI Bill to earn his degree to become licensed as an Aircraft and Powerplant (A&P) specialist, a skill he used in his much loved General Aviation and in its Corporate Aviation world. In 1989 he took a position with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as an A&P mechanic and as an Avionics Technician, where he was stationed in South America. After five years in that capacity, he left the Agency to join the Border Patrol as an Officer in San Diego, CA. After three years with the Border Patrol, he switched back to the DEA again, but his time as an Agent in his much beloved El Paso, Texas. In 2014 he retired from the Agency and became a volunteer Docent at the WEAM, and ultimately, after seven years, its Director.
L to R: Flight Captain, Col. Fisherlistens to questions asked of the Director by Charlie Overstreet as his wife, Mayre Sue listens.
The Daedalians and guests listen intently as Mike brings his presentation to a close.
A very pleased Mike Eppgratefully accepts Colonel Fisher’sDaedalian gift as token of appreciation for his time and effort.
After the successful and informative presentation,Mikeand Col. Fisher pose for our Photographer.
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.
What could possibly be dangerous in having the finest flight boots found anywhere on one’s feet while at work in the skies above Europe? What could be risky in buying these fine hand made custom boots from the famous, yet small West German Boot Company, the Hans Probst Measureboots custom boot maker? After all, without a doubt, these were the unparalleled top boots to be found anywhere. Handsome, comfortable and long-lasting. Affectionately called “Furstie” boots by the lucky pilots privileged to own them. “Furstie” being the shortened name of Furstenfeldbruck, the German town in which they were manufactured.
This video was produced by “Historic Wings” and, while but 9 minutes long, is a true story few know, let alone its bizarre content, especially should the Cold War have ever turned HOT. It was found by FASF Aviation News Scout and former USMC Fighter Pilot, Jerry Dixon (at left).
As observed by Historic Wings, “Victory in the air was the key to winning the Cold War. Despite billions of dollars spent by the USAF and NATO on the best planes, the most advanced radar systems and missiles, and the finest pilot training, the outcome may have been decided by a little boot company in West Germany.” Stick this one out to the end . . . for the shocking surprise.
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.
Thanks to our long-time Member, and Aviation Scout, Jerry Dixon (at left), we see the latest video released by the United States Marine Corps Recruiting Office. It may show only a few short glimpses of their new F-35B variant (Vertical Take Off and Landing capability) Lightning II, but we think you might like its message and delivery. The video speaks for itself, so not much need to add any more.
Below is the short (4:04 minutes) USMC video entitled:
The speaker scheduled for this last Spring meeting fell ill and couldn’t make the luncheon, so the El Paso General “Nick” Nichols’ Flight 24simply turned its focus back on its own members, and towards making sure its most recent past Flight Captain, Roger Nichols (General Nichols’ son), had a proper send-off.
Roger will soon leave to be near his children and grandchildren in Oklahoma. Because the Flight had some extra time, because of the absence of the scheduled speaker, it turned its attention towards gaining a more detailed insight into each of the member’s individual careers, both in the service, and in their later civilian lives. Here, below, are the photos of today’s event – and of each member sharing some of their unique personal history.
Today’s luncheon was also one to which the member’s wives and/or guests were invited. Because Flight Captain, Colonel Mario Campos, was out of state, Vice Captain, Ric Lambartpresided. He shared a group of photos which were taken over the weekend during the regular annual “Dining Out” celebration held at New Mexico State University (NMSU) by the local Air Force ROTC Detachment 505. Many years ago, flight Provost Marshall, Alan Fisher, had actually commanded that same AFROTC unit.
Both Mario and Ric had been invited to attend AFROTC event. Colonel Campos, once an AFROTC cadet himself, was the featured speaker. He shared what the cadets might expect during their own upcoming USAF assignments based on his own experiences.
(All of the below photos may be seen full-size and in High Resolution, by clicking on them)
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreetand Julie Pitt.
L to R: Col. Norm Riceand Roger Nichols.
L to R: Mary Barnes arrives with Flight Chaplain, Roger Springstead.
L to R: Bob Pitt, Virg Hemphill, Pete Brandon, Mary Barnesand Roger Springstead.Col. Norm Rice‘s is seated in the foreground.
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreet, Mary Barnes,and Julie Pitt
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreet, Melissa Fisher and Mary Barnes, speaking withJulie Pitt (back of head to camera)
L to R: Flight Adjutant, Colonel Bob Pitt, engrossed in conversation with past Flilght Captain, Roger Nichols
L to R: Alan Fisher speaking with Virg Hemphill.Ulla Rice is in the foreground
L to R: Roger Springsteadand Ric Lambartgive a thumbs up to photographer, Jerry Dixon
L to R: Virg Hemphill, Mary Barnes, Pete Brandon, Alan and Melissa Fisher, Norm and Ulla Rice, with Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet just off camera to the right.
L to R: Jerry Dixon describes his USMC pilot experience as Virg Hemphill and Roger Springstead look on.
L to R: Virg Hemphilllistens as Roger Springstead shares his Naval Aviator career, while his friend, Mary Barneslistens
L to R: Mary Barnes listens as Pete Brandondescribes his extensive USAF and Northrup-Grumman careers
L to R: Virg Hemphill talks about his USAF Fighter Pilot and Airline experiences as Roger Springstead and Mary Barneslisten
Alan Fisher shares his own USAF experiences along with his current active engagements as a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol
L to R: Melissa Fishertalks about her own USAF career as both a RN and her later teaching years
L to R: Colonel Norm Rice relates his own Fighter Pilot experiences in the Air Force – and how he and his wife, Ulla,met, when he was stationed in Great Britain
Larry Spradlintells of his own USAF aviator experiences
L to R: Charlie Overstreetdescribes some humorous experiences as both an Air Force Pilot and also during his later 2nd career, piloting for the DEA, as his wife Mayre Sue enjoys the memories. Julie Pitt is at the right.
L to R: Julie Pittlistens and her husband, Colonel Bob Pitt, tells of his experiences over Viet Nam, flying both the F-101 and F-4 fighters, whileRoger Nicholstake it all in
Ric Lambart describes some of the photos taken at this past weekend’s AFROTC “Dining-Out” event at NMSU
L to R: Ric Lambart, Roger Nichols, and Bob Pittpose, after Roger was presented with a special going-away gift from the Flight
Any of the following photographs may be seen in full high resolution by simply clicking on them.
Bob Dockendorf describes the history of the WEAM
Bob described the museum’s history and how it was started by fellow El Pasoans, John and Betty MacGuire, both of whom were avid aviators, 32 years ago.
L to R: Roger Springstead, Charlie Overstreet, and Col. Bob Pitt.
Earlier this year Bob was elected to the El Paso Aviation Hall of fame in recognition of his many years of outstanding service to the local aviation community since taking command of the WEAM.
L to R at right: Bob Dockendorf, Col. Mario Campos, Larry Spradlin, Virg Hemphill, Roger Nichols, and USAF ROTC Cadet and Daedalian Flight Training Scholarship Awardee, Ammber Valverde.
His historical operation had 17,000 visitors this past year, guests who came to enjoy and learn from the museum’s exhibit of some 36 WWII, Korean and Vietnam era “war birds,” many of which are still in flying condition.
L to R: Alan Fisher, Roger Springstead, Charlie Overstreet, Bob Pitt, Scott Drake, Bob Dockendorf, Mario Campos (Flight Captain), Larry Spradlin, Virg Hemphill, and Roger Nichols, past Flight Captain.
In addition to the display of these vintage aircraft, this native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, oversees a colorful collection of over 50 antique automobiles and motorcycles. Bob has been an enthusiastic car collector for many years, and has also been both a student of aviation and history since he was a young man growing up in the Midwest.
Dave Ginn, who just returned from a quick tour to Iraq, describes his experience.
The WEAM also boasts an intriguing climate-controlled library consisting of thousands of books, periodicals, photographs and other documents, mostly related to aviation, automobiles and history.
Flight Captain, Colonel Mario Campos conducting flight business. To his right, above (left to you) is his guest, former Army aviator and test pilot, Scott Drake.
The War Eagles keeps its admission prices low in order to expose the greatest number of people its educational exhibits and materials. Students are admitted free of charge and veterans, seniors and military personnel are welcomed with a discounted admission price.
Dave Ginn and Alan Fisherlisten to Mr. Dockendorf
While the museum was initially the singular philanthropic enterprise of its founders, the MacGuires,Bobhas recently begun to transition the institution from a privately funded non-profit educational enterprise, to one of a more self-supporting and public nature. Although John MacGuirepassed away in 2001, his wife Bettymaintains almost daily contact with the Executive Director of her beloved museum.
Colonel Norm Rice enjoys his desert while his wife, Ulla, looks on.
The assembled Daedalians, all members of the FASF, and who all also know Bob well, expressed their enthusiastic appreciaton for his presentation. his fourth to this Daedalian Flight since becoming the museum’s CEO.
L to R: Dave Ginnand Alan Fisher
Mr. Dockendorf additionally explained his initiative for a new organization, The Rio Grande Aviation Council. The new group will be devoted to area aviation interests and development, and which will be composed of leaders from area aviation interests such as the CAP, EAA, Daedalians, The Quiet Birdmen, Amigo Airsho – – – and, yes, even the FASF.
L to R: Mario Campos and Jerry Dixon, and (sitting) Virg Hemphill and Roger Nichols
L to R: Virg Hemphill, Roger Nichols, and Ammber Valverde
Roger NicholsandAmmber Valverde
L to R: Scott Drake,Larry Spradlin, and Bob Dockendorf
Ammber Valverde and Virg Hemphill
L to R: Ammber Valverde, Jerry Dixon, Virg Hemphill and Roger Nichols
Ammber Valverde and Alan Fisher
L to R: Scott Drake, Roger Nichols, Virg Hemphill, Larry Spradlin, and Colonel Mario Campos
Major Natalie Franc, a native of Glenhrothes, Scotland, is the current commanding officer of the El Paso, TX Civil Air Patrol (CAP) “Composite” Squadron. As distinguished from a regular squadron, a Composite Squadron includes a CAP Cadet Corps, along with its Senior Members.
Natalie began her career with the CAP when living in Hawaii after having been in the Royal Air Force (RAF), in which she enlisted when 18 years old, after having first served, since she was 13, in the Air Training Corps of Great Britain. In the RAF she was assigned to Intelligence, where she used her skills as a linguist with a fluency in the Russian Language.
When on active duty with the RAF she met and married her husband, Michael, who was also in the Intelligence branch of the U. S. Army. When he was transferred back to the U.S. in 2002, she moved there with him. Before finally settling in El Paso, Texas, Natalie had lived in Maryland, Hawaii, Arizona, and Germany. As a civilian, in addition to her work with the CAP, she has worked in various capacities in Emergency Services and has been a volunteer with Army Family Programs and has also been an Armed Forces Caseworker. Natalie now runs her own business in El Paso.
The Major showed a custom prepared Power Point slide show to the Daedalian Flight members, who are also members of the FASF. The following photographs of this event are all in high-resolution, and can be seen full-size by simply clicking on them as they appear below.
L to R: Major Natalie Franc, Colonels Mario Campos and Bob Pitt.
L to R: FASF Aviation News Scout, Virgil Hemphill, Colonels Norman Rice (back to camera) and Alan Fisher. Colonel Fisher is also an active volunteer pilot for the Las Cruces, NM Squadron of the CAP.
L to R: Mark Pfluger, Active Duty Army Rotary Wing Pilot from Ft. Bliss’ Biggs Army Airfield, and his mentor, Flight Captain, Roger Nichols.
L to R: Maj. Franc, Col. Camposand his wife, Judy, Julie and Col. Bob Pitt, Retired USAF Colonels, Melissa and Alan Fisher, Virg Hemphill and Roger Springstead (USNR Ret.) Anselmo Rocha, Assistant to Col. Norman and Mrs. Ulla Rice, Jerry Dixon (USMC), Dave Ginn, Charlie Overstreet, Jim Brandon, Col. Pete Brandon’s visiting brother, and just out of camera range to Pete’s left is his guest, Skip Orrell.
Major Franc adjusts computer projector . . . as she explains that the CAP has the largest single-engined fleet of Cessna Aircraft in the world. The powered aircraft total is about 560, and she reported that the CAP also owns 47 glider-sailplanes, which are used to train Cadet members, along with several Hot Air Balloons, which select Cadets are also taught to operate and fly.
The Major explains the National CAP organization’s composition . . . which inlcudes the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
In this set of slides, Major Franc gives some examples of the CAP role in Search and Rescue Operatrions (“SAR” Ops).
L to R: Melissa and Alan Fisherand Virg Hemphill listen to Maj. Francexplaining her El Paso TX CAP operation . . .
Here the CAP Commander explains the role of the CAP in disaster Relief Operations, noting her own squadron’s heavy involvement in Hurricane Harvey, which struck East Texas, in particular, the Houston area.
In this slide the Major explains that the CAP mission also includes other roles in addition to Search and Rescue and Disater Relief . . . pointing out that her squadron plays an important role in Border and National Air Space Security.
Here Nataliedescribes the numerouis mission qualifications in which CAP members work throughout the Squadrons.
And here she shows the Daedalians and their guests how the CAP stays in constant radio contact with its mission personnel and aircraft during operations . . .
Major Franc sums up her presentation and takes questions from the audience . . .
L to R: Major Francand Flight Captain Roger Nicholsstudy one of the slides shown during the presentation.
L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, Major Natalie Franc, Flight Captain Roger Nichols, and Colonel Campos, who invited the Major to make the presentation . . .
L to R: Flght Captain Nicholsand newly inducted Daedalian, Dave Ginn, and Colonel Bob Pitt.
Ever wonder why, unlike all other U. S. Navy Officers, Naval aviators always wear brown, rather than the normal black shoes? Well, FASF Aviation News Scout, and former U.S. Marine Corps Pilot, Jerry Dixon, (at Left) once again discovered another intriguing piece of U. S. Navy historical trivia.
The piece Jerrydiscovered was found on a U.S. Navy Aviation Blog site, appropriately enough called “The Brown Shoes Project!” This story, which is indirectly, also a peek into U.S. Naval aviation itself, was written by retired USN Pilot, LCDR William Estesin his letter to Pat Francis:
“Naval aviation officially began 08 May 1911 with the first order of a “Flying Machine” from the Wright Brothers. (See the photo immediately below, of the U.S. Navy’s version of the Wright Flyer – Model B) This purchase also included aeronautical training of naval personnel who would become the first naval flight instructors who would be the founders in spearheading Naval aviation as we know it today.
Please keep in mind that our First Aero Squadron was also based here at Rockwell Field shortly before it moved back East to Texas, and then on to Columbus, NM, for its role in the Punitive Expedition. The initial cadre of First Aero Squadron Pilots had been stationed at Rockwell field, as well.
Early photo of the U.S. Navy’s Model B of the Wright Flyer.
To train these future naval aviators in the new Wright Brother’s flying machine, Rockwell Army Airfield was commissioned to be the first U.S. Military Flying School.
Above is a 1914 aerial photograph of San Diego’s Rockwell Army Airfield, the nation’s first full-time Flight School. Although it is now called simply, North Island Naval Air Station, by its current sole occupant, the U.S. Navy. You should notice that there are no runways in evidence. This is because runways, as such, had not yet even been invented!
The new airfield was located on the northernmost island (see photo above) of the island chain in San Diego, California. It was decided that it would be jointly shared with the Navy as the most suitable airfield site in the local area, an area chosen because the flying weather was some of the most consistently good flying weather to be found anywhere in the U.S.
In October 1935, the entire Rockwell Field facility was transferred to the Navy by presidential executive order of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The last Army units departed in 1939. Later, the Army Corps of Engineers was commissioned to dredge the channel immediately to its East, and to also fill in the island’s low areas, leveling the island chain’s surface. accordingly, the name “North Island” emerged as Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California. See a current photo just below to see how it now appears.
2017: U.S. Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California. This photo is taken looking to the South. The Bay, which was dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers, is to the left above. The current U.S. Navy Submarine Station San Diego, is immediately out of this picture’s bottom, across the channel’s inlet to the Pacific Ocean, the the right above.
Memorial Commemorative Plaque at Rockwell/North Island NAS, San Diego, CA
First Aero Squadronpersonnel with their Burgess Model H No. 26 at North Island in 1915
Now, quoting Commander Estes: “Six commission officers were selected from the surface fleet as the first student Naval aviation aviator trainees to be taught by these naval flight instructors.
These pioneer naval aviator trainees coming from the surface fleet wore uniform low quarter, square-toed, black rough out leather shoes which served best on the coal-burning ships, which commonly produced great quantities of black soot from the ship’s stacks.
Arriving for duty at the North Island Air Field for training flights, the six students experienced a foreign environment of brown dust on the soft surface air field. They found themselves being constantly required to remove the dust from their black shoes, which was irritating enough to cause them to look for a better alternative to this shoe cleaning nuisance.
In the midst of their training, while often times funding their own petrol expenses, the six discussed alternatives to their problem, deciding that brown shoes might serve best to solve their problem with seniors who were putting what they felt was too much into uniform appearances. With that, all six decided that brown high top shoes with brown leggings was their solution. On a Saturday morning, the six located a cobbler shop on 32nd Street in San Diego, California whom they commissioned to produce same at a time and price they could live with.
Upon taking custody of their prize a short time later, the test of practical use of their new Brown Shoes and acceptance from their senior cadre members became a function of time.
Within a few days, the practicality of the Shoes of Brown proved to be an acceptable solution to the student aviators. The six then met to discuss how to bring about change of the uniform regulation to include the Brown Shoes and high top leggings as distinctive part of the aviators permanent uniform.
With some discussion on how to approach their proposal, they concluded that a petition to bring about change for a distinctive aviators uniform would best serve their plight.
A few days later, they met to compose a petition which would later be approved and endorsed by their seniors and forwarded to the Navy Bureau for consideration.
On 13 November 1913, the Navy Bureau signed approval to the uniform regulations to include The Shoes of Brown with Brown high top leggings as part of the permanent uniform for Naval Aerial Aviators.
U.S. Navy officers with Black Shoes.
This change carried itself through World War II to 1944 while logistically, the brown shoes were not in production due to priority war efforts. However, in stock supply would be issued and the wearing of same was still authorized. At the end of the war in 1945, production of brown shoes was again continued and issued until July 1976.
Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., USN, was a two term CNO from 01 Jul 1970 to 01 Jul 1974. An Admiral from the surface navy (Black Shoe) had a desire for significant change within the Navy and its policies. With that, one of his initiatives was to end an era of Naval Aviation with the removal of the Brown Shoes from the Navy.
With the stage set, at midnight on July 1, 1976, the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations), by instruction to Naval Uniform Department of NMPC (Naval Military Personnel Command), ended an era in tradition of naval aviation distinction and pride. “A Naval Aviation tradition came to an end when Brown Shoes were stricken from the Officer’s and Chief’s uniforms. The tradition distinguished the Brown Shoe Navy of the Aviators from the Black Shoes of the Surface Officers.”
U. S. Naval Aviator, a Commander, in Khaki Uniform – but with an aviator’s traditikonal Brown Shoes
In September 1979, I was assigned to TRARON Ten as a T-2B/C “Buckeye” flight instructor (The Dirty 100) at NAS (Naval Air Station) Pensacola, Florida. With my keen interest in history, I began initiatives to resurrect The Shoes of Brown as part of the permanent uniform for Naval Aviation in the same spirit as those in lead who first set the initiative.
With several cross-country flights to the Naval Archives at NMPC in Washington DC, I researched for the original aviators petition in an effort to author, in kind, the same which would be reborn at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, the Cradle of Naval Aviation.
Receptive and in support of the Brown Shoes initiatives, Captain Jude J. Lahr, USN, Commodore, Training Air Wing 6, gave the “Thumbs Up with a Sierra Hotel” for same.
With that, I drafted a petition which was headed by and reads: “RESURRECTION OF THE BROWN SHOES – WHEREAS, In the course of history of Naval Aviation, the “SHOES OF BROWN”, first adopted in November 1913, have held a position of revered, cherished esteem in the hearts of all those associated with Naval Air, second only to the “WINGS OF GOLD”, and – WHEREAS, in the course of human events it becomes necessary to recognize an overwhelming desire to return the esprit of heritage amongst the cadre of AIRDALES (The affectionate name Navy personnel use to describe their Pilots and aviation support crews), now – THEREFORE, let the feelings be known that we the undersigned, all duly designated NAVAL AVIATORS, NAVAL FLIGHT OFFICERS, FLIGHT SURGEONS and FLIGHT PHYSIOLOGIST, do hereby affix our signatures and designators to this petition calling for the immediate change to the Naval Uniform Regulations which would allow the “SHOES OF BROWN” to once again take their rightful position below the “WINGS OF GOLD.“
The first and most fitting to sign was Captain Jude J. Lahr, USN followed by senior CNET cadre members to include Captain Robert L. Rasmussen, USN, parent Commanding Officers (NASP, NASC, NAMI, NAMRL) and other command seniors, mid-grades and juniors alike and was unanimously received and signed as presented.
Numerous requests from commands throughout the United States, foreign ashore activities and carriers on the line requested the petition be sent them for signing via telephone, message and post mail.
Upon completion of my shore tour, I was then assigned to USS MIDWAY (CV-41). I continued initiatives with the Brown Shoes petition after receiving a “SH” approval from Commanding Officer, Captain Charles R. McGrail, Jr., USN. After an overwhelming receptive Carrier Air Wing 5 and ships company cadre, Captain McGrail later signed out the petition in Red with “forwarded Most Strongly Recommending Approval” to the CNO/NMPC on commands letterhead stationery with a personal note.
LCDR William Estes, USN Retired Aviator and Resident of Salzburg, Austria, “Flew West” on October 12, 2013. A memorial was held in his honor at Pensacola NAS, FL.
Following my 2.5 year Midway tour, I returned to Training Air Wing 6 as a T-2C Buckeye flight instructor with TRARON Ten. On the morning of 12 Sep 85, while airborne on a APM/Spin Hop with a student, I received a UHF radio call from the squadron duty officer (SDO) to “BUSTER” return to base with no explanation. On return to squadron spaces to meet with the SDO, the Skipper escorted me to his office where he moments later received a telephone call from SECNAV, The Honorable John F. Lehman, Jr. (a Tailhooker himself) who congratulated me as being the spearhead in Resurrecting the Brown Shoes back to the “AIRDALES” (affectionate name given by the Navy to its aviation crew members) of U. S. Naval Aviation. SECNAV (Secretary of the Navy) Lehmaninformed me that he was going to announce that month, the return of the Brown Shoes at the 1985 TAILHOOK Convention and that he wanted to personally authorize me to be The First to wear the “Coveted Shoes of Brown” before his announcement.”
Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, Roger Nichols, and Vice Captain, Ric Lambart, both long time active FASF members, once again had the privilege of presenting Leadership Awards to graduates of the Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon programs at Halloman Air Force Base (HAFB) near Alamagordo, NM, earlier this month.
Other Daedalian Flight members, all from El Paso, Texas, also attended the gala event, at which the principle guest speaker, Four Star General James M. Holmes, himself once a USAF Fighter Pilot, gave an inspiring address to the graduates, their instructors, parents and friends.
Other Daedalians at the event also included Colonel Mario Campos and his wife, Judy,Colonel Bob Pitt and wife, Julie, Virg Hemphill and wife, Jenine, Charlie Overstreetand wife, Mayre Sue, and Jerry Dixon. Virtually all the Daeedalian Society members from the El Paso Flight are also long time FASF members.
For the first time, HAFB combined two fighter squadrons into one graduation ceremony, which was held in one of the Base’s large aircraft hangars. Approximately 400 graduates and guests attended the ceremony, which included the 311th and 314 Fighter Squadrons.
Here are the photos taken during the event – see any photo in hi-resolution by clicking on it:
Captain Coke Nolan, at left, one of the two MC’s for the event talking with Daedalian Flight Captain, Roger Nichols . .
L to R above: Jenine and Virg Hemphill,Mayre Sue and Charlie Overstreet.
L to R: Jerry Dixon, MJ Tucker of HAFB, who handled the graduation details, greeting Colonel Mario Campos, while Colonel Bob Pitt looks on.
L to R: FASF Aviation News Scouts and Daedalians, Virg Hemphill and Retired USMC Aviator, Jerry Dixon.
View of the stage and the two MC’s busily running through their smooth routine before the audience.
L to R: Judy Campos, Julie Pitt, Roger Nichols, Bob Pitt, Ric Lambart, Charlie Overstreet and Mario Campos.
Again, View of the stage and the two squadron MC’s animatedly running through their amusing routines before the audience.
One of the two Daedalian Tables with, L to R: Ret. USAF Fighter Pilot, Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, Roger Nichols, Marioand Judy Campos, Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet.
The other Daedalian Table, with ((Clockwise from front Left: Jerry Dixon, Jenine and Virg Hemphill, Julie and Bob Pitt, newly retired fighter Pilot and his still active duty USAF Flight Nurse wife, and another Flight Nurse.
Graduates and guests begining to fill their plates for dinner.
L to R: Colonel Jeff “Tank” Patton congratuting the 311th Squadron’s winner of the “River Rat” award, and co-presenter, retired USAF Col. Cowboy Crowell.
L to R: Roger Nichols presents Daedalian Leadership Award to Capt. Foley Elliot, F-16 graduate from the 311th FS.
L to R: Ric Lambart congratulates the 314th Fighter Squadron’s Lt. “Banjo” Rutledge on his Leadership Award.
Daedalians all, Lto R: Bob Pitt, Jerry Dixon, Roger Nichols, Capt. Foley Elliot and Lt. Banjo Rutledge, Daedalian Awardees, with Ric Lambart, Charlie Overstreet, Mario Campos, and Virg Hemphill.
Daedalian, Colonel “Cowboy” Crowell describes the hiostory of the “River Rat” award, which has its roots back during the Vietnam conflilct.