Thanks to the untiring efforts of our 1st VP, Jason Adams, the FASF now has its own local NM State Historical Marker firmly planted near our historic 1916 Airfield, which, as Columbus Mayor Bruce D’Salas’official business card proudly states: is “The Cradle of American Air Power.”
Let’s take a photographic look at the sequence of actual physical events that took place before the two-year long process of obtaining state approval for the Historic Marker was successfully completed.
The entire lengthy process took place under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Department of Culltural Affairs. The Department’s web pages describe the process involved: “The markers happen through a strong partnership among the Historic Preservation Division, the Cultural Properties Review Committee, New Mexico Department of Transportation – and the public.”
All of these agencies and groups must have been queried and counselled in order for such a Historical Marker to be approved, and then finally contructed for the site it represents. As you might imagine, Jasonhad a big task in hand to get this objective reallized, and it took no small amount of patience to weather the long process involved in the achievement. But, today, we now have this marker in place, with its own highway tourist/visitor pull-off parking area so that passing motorists can conveniently pull off state Highway 9, right in the town of Columbus itself, to safely read both sides of the sign’s historical inscription.
Remember: Just click on any photo below to see it in full-size and hi-resolution!
L to R: Miguel Garcia,of Deming, NM, and Baltazar Granados, who actually hails from Columbus, are with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT), and did the original site survey work for the new FASF Historical Marker.
Migueland Baltazarpose by their truck before commencing the survey work. The FASF billboard marking the 1916 airfield is behind them to the left.
Here is Baltazar measuring the dimensions for locating the new Marker Sign. Highway 9, in the forefront, has a steep drop-off shoulder closer to the Airfield, so these men had to find the nearest place where the shoulder was relatively flat, so that passing motorists might easily park their vehicles when they go over to read the Marker Sign. These men began this stie work almost exactly one (1) year ago!
Here we see the men from the P&M Sign Company Team working to erect the new sign, which was made by their firm under contract to the state of New Mexico. P&M makes most of these historical marker signs for New Mexico. They are located in picturesque Mountaiinair, NM. This work was completed by them this past September
Here are the actual text portions of the two-sided Marker, which clearly point out the historical information regarding the location’s importance. This sign is heavy-duty and completely weather proof.
The P&Mteam halfway through to completion. L to R: Larry Archuletaof Las Vegas, NM, Marcos Tavera ,Charles Padilla, and Andrew Lopez, all three from Mountainair, NM
Here is the front side of the sign, with page one of the story facing to the West.
And here, above, is the back side of the Marker, facing East towards El Paso, Texas. You can see by the construction of the Maker that this ediface is both sturdily made – and situated.
L to R: FASF celebrants of the new Sign’s Official Dedication: Columbus Mayor Bruce D’Salas,Airfield Director, Bob Wright; Long-time FASF member and just-retired Manager of the nearby Pancho Villa State Park, John Read; FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas; Bill Madden, Airfield Site Chairman; Fritz Wagoner, Airfield Survey & Artifact Team; and Historical Marker Committee Chairman, 1st VP of the FASF, Jason Adams, and his daughter, Chloe. All four of the FASF members on the right side of the sign are from Las Cruces, NM. At the left in photo, TheMayorand Bob Wrightare from Columbus, and John Read and Alma Villezcasare both from Deming, NM.
L to R: Background are Bill Armendariz – Editor in Chief of the Deming Headlight newspaper, Maria Jimenez of Casas Grandes, Mexico, and Alma Villezcas, FASF Treasurer; in foreground are (L to R) July McClure, FASF Aerodrome Editor and John Readretired Mgr. of Pancho Villa State Park.Before his retirement last month, Johnmade all the arrangements for the upcoming RAID DAY events at the local New Mexico State Park.
This past Friday, key members of the 2019 Raid Day Planning Committee met at the famous Palomas, Mexico “PINK STORE” (longtime commercial supporter of the FASF!) to discuss the upcoming annual RAID DAY event in Columbus. The below photos capture most of the participants.
The majority of the group are all long time active members of the FASF.
This year the memorial event, which commemorates the disastrous raid on the town of Columbus, NM, by Mexican Revolutionary General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a tragedy which took the lives of some 18 innocent Americans, will fall on a Saturday, March 9th.
Some 1500 of the Villistas (as Villa’s troops became known) attacked the sleeping village under cover of darkness that fateful day. In response to this attack, then US President Wilson ordered US Army General “Black Jack” Pershingto organize the “Punitive Expedition” as a means of capturing or destroying Villa in retaliation for the attack. It was this Expeditionary force that gave rise to the first US Military deployment in sustained combat circumstances of two new weapons: The Airplane and the Motorized ground vehicle.
Thus, the incident saw the launching of the World’s Greatest Air Power in the small rural community of Columbus, NM. There will be many events taking place on RAID DAY, from public historical presentations at both Pancho Villa State Park and at the Columbus Library.
FASF President, Ric Lambart, will conduct a slide and video presentation at the Library at 9:30 AM entitled “How Pancho Villa Saved the United States.” Three historian experts on the Raid will make their presentations starting at 1:00 PM at the Pancho Villa State Park Recreation Hall.
The traditional RAID DAY Cabalgata Binacional, where horsemen (and women) from deep in Mexico ride into Columbus to join with hundreds of American riders, coming down from the North, will begin to enter the Village Plaza at approximately 11:00 AM.
The Columbus Historical Society (CHS), under the leadership of local Historian, Richard Dean (whose grandfather was one of the civilians killed by the Villistas), will also hold its own traditional solemn Memorial Service at the Society’s Depot Museum at 10:00 AM.
The joining of the Mexican and American riders is an annual gesture of the peace and goodwill now in effect between the two nations. All throughout the town, there will be vendors supplying Mexican and American food. There will also be entertainment by local musicians, such as the FASF’s own July McClure, along with Mariachi bands, and traditional Mexican folkloric dancers. There will be much to see at this always well-attended event.
In background (L to R),, John Read discussing plans with July McClure and Headlight Editor,Bill Armendariz.
L to R above: John Read speaking with (standing) Raul Martinez, Cabalgata Parade Marshall and CEO of the Pancho Villa Development Corporation. The Pink Store waiter is speaking to Norma Gomez, RAID DAY and CABALGATA EVENT organizer and Columbus Chamber of Commerce Secretary. July McClure is enjoying her lunch and Bill Armendarizgets some event information from Norma.
The above photo of the planners was taken by Bill Armendariz. L to R: Ric Lambart, John Read, Raul Martinez, JulyMcClure, Norma Gomez, Alma’s visiting guest from her home down in Mexico, Sra. Maria Jimenez and Alma Villezcas in the foreground.
Today, only three days to go before retiring as Manager of New Mexico’sPancho Villa State Park (PVSP) in Columbus, one of the FASF’s earliest and most active members and enthusiastic supporters, John Read (at left), was honored at a surprise celebration, held at his beloved Park in Columbus, the very spot which once housed U.S. Army troops under General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing, during the famous Punitive Expedition of 1916 and 1917. High resolution still photographs and video follow story down below . . .
Camp Furlong 1916-17 Recreation Hall
Today’s celebratory event was actually held in the very same “Recreation Hall” (at right) in which U.S. Army infantry, cavalry, and Signal Corps Aviation troops held their various recreational activities over a century ago. The Army Fort and Garrison at Columbus became known as “Camp Furlong.”
Since arriving in Columbus, Mr. Read has maintained a continuous presence in all FASF activities, often helping the Foundation put on various presentations for the general public, and acting as one of its principle historical consultants.
General “Black Jack” Pershing
He supported and even hosted the very first public event put on by the FASF, when the United States Air Force (USAF) flew its then Deputy Historian, Dr. Roger Miller, out to Columbus to put on the group’s very first public History sell-out extravaganza.
It was New Mexico’s interesting employment opportunities and the excitement of the Southwest that initially drew the Readsfrom their home in Tampa, Florida to New Mexico. WhenJohnarrived at Columbus, in 2008, his first task was to become the Park’s new Heritage Educator. Prior to his arrival in Columbus, John first worked as a Park Ranger at the Roswell NM State park.
Although Read’s major during college was in the Sciences, and notwithstanding his years of teaching science in Florida, he nevertheless became a dedicated student of history, in particular the history of those events which surrounded Columbus during those years just prior to our entry into the “War to End All Wars,” better known today as WWI, in Europe.
Aside from his heavy workload at managing the New Mexico PVSP operation, John has still continued his love of Science, foraging into advanced theoretical physics concepts, such as Quantum Mechanics and String Theory, and he has also become in income producing YouTube presenter of New Mexico High Desert Exploration and Aventure Videos.
It was during that Punitive Expedition that the United States first engaged its fledgling, and as yet unproven Army First Aero Squadron, in sustained combat. And, of course, it was this very history-making development in Columbus, over a century ago, that led to the small Mexican border town’s becoming the “Birthplace of American Air Power,” and the “Rebirth Site of American Civil aviation,“ as well.
However, it was not just this history that captured Mr. Read’s interest, but the entire series of related historic events that arose out the Columbus engagement in that historic Punitive Expedition.
Let’s take a quick glance of some of John’smore notable contributions, which so greatly enhanced the PVSP’s status as a historical site and local landmark for visitors and history buffs:
He created 1st website for the Pancho Villa State Park Friends (Volunteer Docent) group
Expanded and helped re-organize for more effectiveness, the PVSP Friend’s Group
Obtained large donation of new historic Expedition Artifacts for display in the exhibit Hall
Got donations of numerous original 13th Cavalry Army Uniforms from the Expedition
Acquired large collection of impressively mounted new Photo Plaques re the Raid
Promoted + sold many FASF souvenirs to park visitors, to help PVSP Friends’ funding
Created and marketed numerous other Expedition and “Raid” gifts for tourists
Got for display a valuable US 48 star Flag used by the expedition in Mexico in 1917-17
Acquired from Pancho’s grandson (Mex. Atty) for display, aluminum death mask of Villa
Put on display an actual artillery shell found in Mexico from the Expedition’s action there
Got donation of Bill Rakocycollection (SW Historian/Artist & Writer) exhibit for display
Sold numerous new donors to make exhibit donations to the Park for its prized collection
Coordinated historical education “Staff Rides” (Field Trips) for USA Sgt. Majors Academy
Regularly coordinated USA Sergeant Majors Academy “Staff Rides” (Field Trips) thru PVSP
Did research: why PVSP was named after the Mexican Revolutionary who raided the US*
Greatly expanded the Park’s fostering and promoting of large Antique Car Show each year
Managed and orchestrated huge “Raid Centenniall” extravaganza in 2016, which featured:
A large group of 13th Cavalry Reenactors from all across the United States
Had Congressman/FASF member, Steve Pearce present US Capitol Flag to the FASF
Arranged Special FASF Presentation to the overflow crowd of Centennial visitors
Otherwise coordinated hundreds of enactors and others for successful Centennia
Here, for your enjoyment, are some of today’s photos . . . click to see full high-resolution view
Some of guests line up to get their event lunch
Guests begin to assemble in the Camp Furlong Recreation Hall to hear John’sretirement ceremony
L to R in foreground: Park volunteers, Dave and Marlene Ferguson, Josephine Gosiak, Shirley and Steve Schou, and with their backs to cameral, PVSP Friends’ VIPs, Jeane and Bud Canfield
L to R facing camera and standing: FASF Aerodrome Editor, July McClure, John Read, and seated, Maria Rangel, FASF member, Ted Williams(turned toward John and a park volunteer) and Bud Canfield, long time FASF Advisor.
L to R: July McClure, John Read, Maria Rangel, Ted Williams, Bud and Jeane Canfield.
L to R above: Guest of honor,John Read and his wife, Elly Read.
New Mexico State Park employees and staff, along with guests, listen to event MC and Park Regional Manager, Evaristo Giron, as he descried John Read’snumerous achievements during his tenure as the PVSP manager.
John and Elly Readlisten to Mr. Evaristo’s praise of John’s many accomplishments as Park Manager.
L to R: Evaristo Girontells crowd of some more of John’s achievements as Johnwaves one of his thank you cards with its many grateful anc congratulatory signatures.
FASF ALL!– – – and also PVSP Friends’ Group Officers: July McClure (Treasurer), Elly and John Read, Maria Rangel(Secretary), Todd Montes (President – & US Postmaster for Columbus), Bud and Jeane Canfield, early PVSP Friends’ Group officers and organizers.
Guest of honor, John Read, with his principal long-time support staff Park Rangers:, L to R:Junior Martinez and Martin Nunez.
John Read with long-time friend and one of FASF organizers and its Webmaster, Ric Lambart
A happy new retiree and his bride about to savor their hard earned new life without so much daily responsibilities.
John Read’s New Mexico State Park’s Recognition for Outstanding Service Commemorative Plaque.
CLICK HERE to see John Read’streatise on the strange story behind park’s Pancho Villaname.
Johntakes in more of the spectacular view to the South over El Paso, from the El Paso Club’s picture windows. The Daedalian Flight meets once a month to listen to educational presentations from local leaders. John did a great deal of flying as a young man with his Dentist father, who owned a Cessna 182 Skylane. Today, he regularly flies drones over SW New Mexico and shoots airborne videos, which can be seen on YouTube.
Mr. Readexplains some of the little known background history behind the involvement of Germany in the Mexican Revolution during the early part of the last Century.
Daedalian members, all also FASF members, listen to Read’s description of the Expedition and why Pancho Villa may have rationalized or justified his attack on his former ally, the United States.
Johnexplains some strange and largely unknow history about the infamous Pancho VillaRaid on Columbus, which gave rise to the birth of American Air Power, when the First Aero Squadron launched its operations into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa from Columbus.
Another view of John, as he explains how the Germans tried to convince Pancho Villa and the Mexicans to make war on the United States, in order to keep it too occupied to bother getting involved in WWI in Europe. Notice, to John’s left stganding by the window, one of the regular Mexican-American Club waiters, who was especially interested in learning things he’d never before heard about the Mexican Revolution – – – and Villa’s Raid on Columbus. He expressed his appreciation to John after the meeting.
John shows the Daedalians a copy of a “smoking gun” Telegram, sent by the Germans, to Mexico’s Revolutionary leadership.
At far left, FASF member and Daedalian, Charlie Overstreet (USAF), asks questions about the German involvement with the Mexicans during 1916 -1917 period. L to R after Charlie: Dave Ginn (US Army), Colonel Mario Campos (USAF) andColonel Bob Pitt (USAF).
At the end of his presentation, Colonel Bob Pitt (right) gives a token of appreciation to Mr. Read for taking the time to make the special presentation. To the left above is Flilght Captain, Roger Nichols, a former Air Force pilot. Colonel Pitt , also a USAF veteran, was wounded while flying a jet fighter in combat over Vietnam during that conflict.
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.
Colonel Don Patton, US Army Retired, who is one of the founders of the Dr. Harold C. Deutsch WWII History Round Table in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, dropped by to visit the First Aero Squadron 1916 Airfield here in Columbus, yesterday. After touring the FASF Headquarter’s Office, and the Airfield, Colonel Patton and Ric Lambart picked up another FASF long time member, John Read, Manager of the Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, and went to Palomas, Mexico to have lunch at the world renown Pink Store. The picture below, of Col. Patton, John Read and Ric Lambart was taken by another long time FASF member, Yvonne Romero (scroll down to the Pink Store), the creator – and owner/manager – of the Pink store.Any of the below photos can be seen in full-size by simply clicking on them.
L to R: Col. Don Patton, John Read, and Ric Lambart – Photo by Yvonne Romero
Col Pattonstanding by the wind-sock pole at the 1916 Airfield with Columbus in the background.
Dean is considered to be the foremost local historian on matters related to the infamous raid on Columbus in 1916 by Pancho Villaand Richard is also the President of the FASF’s sister organization, the Columbus Historical Society, which operates the well known “Depot Museum” in town. Mr. Dean’sgreat-grandfather was one of the victims of Villa’s marauders on March 9, 1916. Dean has appeared on both PBSspecials about the Raid and also on other national TV networks regarding the same infamous historical event.
Col. Patton standing on the E-W Airfield Runway. The view is to the East towards El Paso, Texas.
Colonel Patton fills our his FASF Membership Application.
Colonel Patton poses in front of the Pancho Villa State Park’s historic Curtiss JN-4 Jenny Airplane.
L to R: John Readexplaining some of the historical facts about the infamous raid of March 9th, 1916 by Pancho Villa, Col. Patton.
L to R: Col. Patton listens to more about the 1916 Raid from John Read.
L to R: Col. Patton listens to John Read explain how this 1914 photo of U.S. General Black Jack Pershing, with Pancho Villa has most often misidentified his Aide de Camp as Lt. Patton (later General George Pattonof WWII fame – who was involved with Pershing in the 1916 Punitive Expedition, but was not in that particular photo. The man so often misidentified as young Patton, was actually the General’s Aide de Camp, Lt. James Lawton Collins, who sometime after WWII also became a Major General himself.). Our new member is not related to General George S. Patton.
Colonel Patton had recently booked one of our long time Advisors, Dr. Roger Miller, former Deputy Historian for the United States Air Force, to speak to his WWII Round Table in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Millermade presentations about both the First Aero Squadron’sinvolvement in the 1916-17 Punitive Expedition, and also the Berlin Airlift. Both topics are specialties of Dr. Miller’s. The former USAF Historian has also authored some well known books on both those episodes of U.S. History.
Remember to turn up your volume to hear the above video!
The United States Air Force flew Dr. Roger G. Miller to Columbus, New Mexico, to deliver this 58 minute presentation in commemoration of the Birth of American Air Power. Dr. Miller’s fascinating slide show included many before unseen 95-year-old archival photographs taken in Columbus during the launching of America’s first sustained military aviation operation.
This Army aircraft engagement was part of the legendary “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico sent out of Columbus in retaliation for the nighttime March 9th, 1916 raid on the town by Mexico’s revolutionary General Francisco “Pancho” Villa and his troops. Before Villa’s three hour attack was over, he had lost almost a quarter of his some 400 men to the fierce American gunfire that ensued from the local Army garrison’s soldiers, but many buildings had been burned to the ground by the invaders and 18 U.S. soldiers and civilians had been slaughtered.
Not only was the retaliatory Army campaign considered the launching of what is now the world’s greatest Air Power, but many give the military engagement credit for instigating what also became the leading civil aviation power in the world. While the early Columbus aircraft deployment is best known for its military contribution, the subsequent entry of the United States into Europe’s World War I had a great deal to do with the postwar explosion of civil aviation in the states as well.
Why? Because the veritable Curtiss “Jenny” biplanes used out of the Columbus airfield were mass-produced by the United States and Canada for several years during WWI in order to train thousands of young American and Canadian men to be military pilots. The Great War was soon concluded in 1918, and because the thousands of Jennys were no longer needed, they were quickly sold by the government as surplus at the end of that deadly conflict.
Many young Army and Navy pilots, who were fortunate enough to come home intact from the bloody fields and skies above Europe, had fallen in love with the exciting experience of flying and they enthusiastically purchased the surplus biplanes for as little as $200. It was these sturdy “Jenny” aircraft that quickly became the backbone of U. S. civil aviation, as they were soon profitably carrying “Airmail” for the Federal Government. They were also flown all across the states from the Atlantic to the Pacific by the ex-military pilots in what has become known as the American “Barnstorming” era.
It was these same Barnstorming young pilots who gave thousands of Americans their first taste of flying aloft in their noisy open-cockpit machines, which in turn helped incite America’s love affair with powered flight. It was only a matter of a few more years before some of these young aviators were able to convince the government to subsidize their use of newer and larger aircraft to carry passengers between cities. Because there weren’t yet enough passengers willing to forgo their trips by the much safer railroads, the new “Airline” entrepreneurs cleverly also bid to carry the U.S. mail on their passenger planes. It was this federal subsidy to carry the airmail that enabled the fledgling airlines to turn a profit. Thus began what also soon became the world’s leading civil aviation “power.”
Dr. Miller’s presentation is a colorful and exciting introduction into that great historical military experiment which is considered to be the Birth of American Air Power. Although the Wright Brother’s are universally given credit for the first successful powered flight in 1903, the United States quickly fell behind the Europeans in aircraft innovation and development. In fact, while the veritable “Jenny” airplane made a fine flight training aircraft (over 8,000 of them were mass-produced), it proved no match for any of the military airplanes used in the Great War, resulting in the Curtiss Jenny biplane being restricted to non-combat pilot training in the United States and Canada. When our pilots arrived to battle the Germans in that bloody conflagration, they were compelled to fly either the significantly superior French or British flying machines.
Soon after the end of hostilities on the Continent, however, things quickly changed, with the lessons of the “war to end all wars” taken to heart, American aircraft manufacturers sprung up around the country in a fierce competition to produce better, safer – and faster – airplanes. The U. S. soon leapt ahead of the European nations in its capacity to produce genuinely safe modern airplanes – – – for both civilian and military purposes. And, with virtually no lapses, the United States has successfully maintained that position of world leadership in both aviation and its evolution into space flight.
This video would not have been possible without the great assistance and hours of effort put in by the following local Columbus FASF members: John Read, now Pancho Villa State Park Chief Ranger; Allen Rosenberg (a founding member of the FASF!) and Larry Miller, who worked together doing the videography; former FASF Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Bud Canfield and his wife, Jeane, who handled all the catering for the entire event, and Wayne and Debbi Evans, who handled all the vehicle parking duties. This presentation by Dr. Miller was the first public program staged by the FASF and it was a true sell out. The attendees soon filled the small auditorium and spilled out into the main Exhibit Hall. Last, but not least, of course, was the fascinating presention by our guest, Dr. Roger Miller, USAF Deputy Historian and the USAF, which made his visit possible.
THANKS AGAIN TO:
Roger, John, Allen, Larry, Bud and Jeane, and Wayne and Debbi!