This weekend’s FASF-Daedalian Graduation Event at Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, NM
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At yesterday’s regular monthly meeting at the El Paso Club in downtown El Paso, Texas, Daedalian Flight 24 (more affectionately known as the General “Nick” Nichol’s Flight – named after Roger’s WWII Ace Dad), listened intently as their immediate past Flight Captain, Roger Nichols, shared a power point – video briefing about the historic American Linebacker II heavy-bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese.
The time was December 1972, when the Nixon Administration’s Henry Kissinger, representing the U.S. interests at the Paris Peace Accords, had just failed to reach a peace agreement with the North Vietamese’s Le Duc Tho in Paris, France. Kissinger had just over-optimistically announced to the press that “Peace is at hand.”
With the Accords in shambles, the U.S. mounted a massive bombing campaign over the North Vietamese capital of Hanoi. It was code-named “Linebacker II.” Fellow Daedalian Fllight and long-standing FASF member, Charlie Overstreet, had been one of the pilots who took part in that huge aerial assault on North Vietnam, The majority of Flight 24’s aviators flew during that distant Southeast Asian war.
For those of you who might be interested, here is the short (12:13) segment I of the longer documentary of that “Linebacker II” campaign, which was produced by the son of General Glenn R. Sullivan, who commanded the 17th Air Division out of U-Tapao Air Base in Thailand at the time. Here is a link to a number of other films made of that same campaign.
The presentation by Roger was both educational, and also nostalgic for those in the Flight who had fought in the skies above Southeast Asia, and who had lost some of their closest friends and fellow aviators in that now historic conflict. The meeting had an element of sadness, also, because Roger will soon be moving to Oklahoma to be closer to his children and grand-children. Fortunately, Roger’s many interests in El Paso (where he was born), including the Daedalians, will bring him back on regular visits.
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Honored guest speaker at this month’s Daedalian meeting in downtown El Paso, Texas, was Bob Dockendorf, long time member of the FASF and Executive Director of the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at nearby Doña Ana County International Jetport.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While the museum was initially the singular philanthropic enterprise of its founders, the MacGuires, Bob has 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 MacGuire passed away in 2001, his wife Betty maintains almost daily contact with the Executive Director of her beloved museum.
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.
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.
The above WWII Army Air Corps’ Pilot Training Film is courtesy of Zero’s Drive in Videos, and it is 35:41 in length. Remember to click on the full-screen view button of the video in the lower right hand corner of the film’s start up screen, if you’d enjoy seeing the larger screen version displayed.
The Flying Tiger’s shark mouthed P-40 is one of the most iconic aircraft of WWII. Here, above, you can watch the film used to actually train P-40 pilots. It was produced by P-40 manufacturer Curtiss-Wright (remember Curtiss? They produced the First Aero’s Jenny in 1916 & 17), and it is in rare WWII color. One of our long-standing active members, Roger Nichols’s (the current Flight Captain of the Order of Daedalians Flight 24, of El Paso, Texas) own father, Major General Frank Nichols, was stationed at Pearl Harbor on the day it was attacked by the Japanese Imperial Air Forces on December 7, 1941. The then young Lieutenant took off to fight the overwhelming enemy forces in his P-40 Warhawk, which he continued to fly on other missions in the South Pacific War Theater, before transferring to other types of aircraft, such as the P-38 Lightening. Claire Chenault’s Flying Tiger’s (see above photo of Flying Tiger version with its unique paint job) deadly weapon in China was the P-40. It was the Army Air Corp’s main front-line fighter at the outbreak of the War. Not as agile as a Japanese Zero, the P-40 nevertheless made up for that with speed, especially in a dive – – – and firepower. This rugged Curtiss-Wright built plane served the Allies around the world, from the deserts of North Africa to the jungles of SE Asia.
The aircraft featured in the above manufacturer’s film is a P-40F or L, both models of which were powered by Packard built British Rolls Royce Merlins for better high altitude performance. Other P-40 versions were powered by American Allison engines. P-40s supplied to Commonwealth countries were known as “Kittyhawks.”The other variant of the Curtiss Fighter was known as the Tomahawk.
The above WWII training film was reproduced by Zeno, Zeno’s Warbird Video Drive-In.
Check out their P-40 DVD with two more videos & the iconic airplane’s actual pilot’s manual. You can visit their aviation DVD storet for one of the World’s broadest selections of World War II & other vintage jet aircraft aviation videos, too.