I thought I would write a blog with some catch up of events to start off the New Year:
If you have followed things in the bi-weekly Enewsletter On The Fly, we got through two votes by Dallas City Council with unanimous approvals towards our incentive packages. We have to perform to receive the funds, by moving Headquarters and raising funds, which will be matched. And we are starting on that right away. We have hired a new Chief Development Officer, Melissa Ogden, and she starts work this week. She lives in Dallas and has experience in capital campaigns. We had strong supporters in the City Council and even those with concerns voted for these incentives; and will see that we are good neighbors who will bring about economic benefits to the local area. As we start spooling up here, we will be employing local businesses and recruiting from the labor pool of the surrounding market.
We will take possession of the former Dallas Jet Center at Dallas Executive Airport this month and several of us staff will have offices there right away. So, if you are in or passing through Dallas, stop by and say “Hi” to me and the other staff members. This year we will have some aircraft hangared there, including the B-24 Liberator. We won't be open to the public per se; but we welcome people dropping by to learn more about us, or to join if interested! The remainder of the Headquarters Staff who have chosen to relocate, will do so this Fall.
I have made some last minute travel plans and will be at a few Units this month:
Jan 17 - CenTex Wing - Annual Banquet
January 18-19 CAF Airbase Arizona - Staff Assistance Visit (SAV) and meet the members
Jan 20 - SoCal Wing - Meet with Unit Staff and meet the members
So, if you are in the area for any of those dates, or are members of those units, please stop by to say “Hi” and catch up with me.
Just before Christmas, we held a press event to highlight our B-24 in concert with the opening of the movie, "Unbroken." If you haven't read the book, this movie is a good place to start. I have read the book and the movie does a really good job squeezing this huge story into 2 hours and 20 minutes. We brought over our B-24 Diamond Lil to Dallas Executive Airport (DEA) and flew in CAF COL Karnig Thomasian. Karnig is a WWII vet and former POW, who was held in a Japanese prison camp for 6 months. I met Karnig through a mutual friend and he came to the WWII Air Expo in New Orleans. He is a fabulous speaker and looks 20 years younger than his age of 90 years. The press showed up in droves to interview Karnig and see the airplane. It was a good way to show the community what the CAF is about. I recorded two stations that had stories. (See the clips)
In the November Dispatch, I wrote about the WWII Air Expo- New Orleans, held last October in collaboration with the National WWII Museum, which I referenced above. That Flight Lead article triggered some feedback and showed other examples of collaboration. One letter is below:
Dear Mr. Brown,
My name is Ben Jarvis, CAF member 20384. I live in Tulsa, OK and work at American Airlines as a structures mechanic on 757/767s. During the holiday base shut down I had a chance to catch up on some reading and the November issue of Dispatch was on the list of reads. As soon as I finished your piece on collaboration, I knew I had to write you and tell you my story.
Along with being a CAF life member, I am also a member of the Flagship Detroit Foundation. You may or may not know about Flagship Detroit, but it is the oldest flying DC3 in the world. She was the second DC3 bought by AA back in 1937. She comes to Tulsa quite a bit for maintenance and for the winter months where she can rest inside. She's here now until April getting the #2 engine overhauled, but that is getting ahead of the story. Let me take a step back....
Back in August, FSD came to Tulsa for two weeks for routine maintenance and cleaning. September 10, she left and went to Sioux Falls, SD for an air show. Well as we all know when working with 70 year old aircraft, things seem to happen! While in Sioux Falls, a cylinder went south and needed changing. All the volunteers here couldn't take time off to travel up there, so I did a little research. Turns out, FSD was at the same airport the Joe Foss Squadron meets at! I gave the Director of Maintenance, Jim Gentry, the name and number of the squadron leader, Rick Tupper, and told him he should give him a call. Old airplane guys stick together and I figured they would be glad to help out. Well they did help out- a lot! I don't have names since I couldn't get up there, but I wanted you to know they were instrumental in getting her going again. Unfortunately, that was the end of the air show season. The decision was made by the board members that an engine overhaul was necessary on the #2 engine.
We all know there are thousands of little parts that make up these planes, and some of them are getting pretty hard to find. While looking for engine mounts and having no luck, I decided to call up the Arizona Wing. I grew up in Tempe and became a member there when I was 18. I learned a lot from those old boys and I knew they had their stuff together even back in the 1980s/90s. I called them because FSD has Wright 1820's, not P&W 1830's, and thought there may be something available in Mesa. I have talked to Pete Loguda and Luke (didn't get his last name), and the info they've given is priceless! While talking to Luke, I found out that the rubber mounts we need were made by Dow-Elco and the company is still around. Then he gave me their phone number! I called them up and we were able to purchase new ones for almost half of what we could find from the parts hoarder guys!
So, that is why I wanted to write to you. I wanted you to know that the generosity of the CAF members is also helping to keep other antiques flying too. I have always been proud to call myself a CAF colonel. I thought that someone should know that the members of the Joe Foss Squadron and CAF Airbase Arizona are doing great things. Any time they come to Tulsa, we'll be here willing to get our hands dirty with them. It does indeed take a collaborative effort to keep 'em flying.
FSD pit crew (left to right): Jim Gentry, Bill Brown, Ben Jarvis, Dave Romere
I hope that everyone had a good holiday season...Spring and the air show season are just around the corner and I can't wait to see you and to keep the positive momentum rolling!