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 . . .
On October 6, Colonel Mario Campos, (L) USAF Retired, past Flight Captain of the General Nichols Flight of the Daedalians in nearby El Paso, briefed his fellow aviators about the last 75-year history of small arms weapons and their legacy in the Air Force. After his PowerPoint-supported talk, his audience agreed they learned things they never knew, even when on active duty. Remember to simply click on any photo below to see it in full resolution and full size. 2 short videos (A brief 1:00 minute long highlight, and a 10-min. cut of his one-hour presentation, follow below the still photographs.
Col. Bob Pitt, right above, helps the Service Staff plan the upcoming luncheon. His wife, Julie is 2nd from Left.
L to R: Pete Brandon, Virg Hemphill, Jerry Dixon, and Roger Springstead, look over the Ft. Bliss Club’s menus.
L to R: Pete Brandonshows Virg Hemphill some photos on his phone.
Retired Naval Aviator, Roger Springstead, Flight 24’s Chaplain, intently listens to Virg Hemphill and Jerry Dixon.
L to R: Col. Melissa Fisherand her husband, Col. Alan Fisher, look over some photos of Col. Campos’.
Flight 24’s Captain, Col. Alan Fisher, opens the luncheon meeting.
L to R – foreground: Judy Campos chats with her husband, Col. Mario Campos. At the rear, in green and black, is Daedalian Army Aviator widow, Connie Sullivan.
The scheduled speaker for this Luncheon was canceled, so Colonel Mario Camposstepped in with his PowerPoint Presentation about the history of Air Force small arms, entitled, “75 years of USAF Small Arms.”
The following description of the presentation was written by Colonel Bob Pitt.
Mario began by pointing out that while the Air Force has a rich and well-documented history of its major weapon systems since its birth in 1947, little has been written on the small arms the Air Force has used during that period. He also pointed out that the Air Force has been instrumental in the acquisition of small arms that have had an impact on all the other services. He limited the discussion to personal arms and excluded crew-employed machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, handheld rockets, and so on.
He described the period of 1947-1956 which included the transition of the Army to Air Force small arms. He went over the history of the M1 Carbine and the Colt M1911A1 as the primary weapons adopted by the Army during this period. He also covered the M1 Garand, but primarily of its use as an Air Force competition and ceremonial weapon.
Mario then transitioned to the 1956-1990 period by highlighting some unique firearms like the .22 Hornet M4 and .22/.410 M6 Survival rifles. He then went on to give the history of the Air Force’s transition to the Smith and Wesson “Combat Masterpiece” .38 Special and the Snub-Nosed .38 Special as the Air Force’s primary handguns for Security Forces (Police) – and Aircrews.
Colonel Campos then described the Air Force’s role in acquiring one of the legendary battle rifles still in use today . . . the M16. He described how Gen Curtis LeMay was the first of the service chiefs to recognize the value of the weapon and, after being initially rebuffed, it was the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, who ordered all services to use the M-16.
Mario also went through the different Air Force versions including the Colt Model 604 (M-16) and the XM177E GAU-5 (M-16 Carbine). He also went over the Air Force’s continuing use of the Remington 870 Shotgun.
Finally, Mario transitioned to 1990 and beyond when the Air Force adopted the M-16A2, Beretta M9 pistol, M4 Carbine, M24 Sniper System, M11 pistol, and now the Sig Sauer M18 pistol and the HK 417 Designated Marksman Rifle. He ended the presentation with a description of the new Aircrew Survival Weapon, a foldable M4 Carbine that fits in aircrew survival seat kits.
Here, below, are a short video (1 minute) highlight of Colonel Campos’ hour-long presentation, and a 10-minute version. Please excuse the problem with the variation in the lighting in some sections.
“Full-screen” mode won’t work on the first video clip, but it will on the YouTube version.
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 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