Posted on May 17th, 2014 No comments
In the nearly 12 months since Dick Bong had been away from home he had written home about twice a week. He had written additional letters to his siblings, friends and other Bong relatives. In his letter of May 17, 1942 he provides more of his impressions of the P-38 Lightning and we get a glimpse of the 21-year-old’s ties with home.
Well I now have 7 hours in the P-38. It certainly is quite an airplane. It’s the fastest I have ever flown and is the easiest plane to fly that I have yet flown. However, it is nothing to get careless with. One boy was killed out here yesterday.
Dick continued his letter with comments about cookies in a care package…”I guess I told you that (the) cookies arrived and were promptly did away with in the proper manner.” Other comments regarded relatives living in California and acquaintances from home entering the military. Like most in the service, Bong wanted to ensure everyone had his correct mailing address. “Be sure when you write to me”, he wrote, “you address the letters to the 49th Pursuit Squadron here at the field.” He continued with a question that implies he missed his parents.
How about that deal of coming out here? … Dad ought to be able to get away for two weeks right after the seeding is done. Let me know about it anyway. I have no expenses here to amount to anything so I could send you a $100 now and another hundred the first of the month. After that, I won’t have any use for money at all, I suppose. I’ll have to send my radio home before I leave too, I suppose.
I guess that is all for now.
It will be 29 days before Dick’s next letter home. An unusual event with a valid reason. Maybe it was the P-38’s speed, maybe it was the ease with which Bong found it flew, maybe it was his youthful exuberance. What ever the cause, a few weeks after writing this letter young 2nd Lieutenant Bong found himself in hot water. So much so that he would soon be standing at attention in front of the 4th Air Force Commander, Major General George C. Kenney. It would prove to be a meeting that would extend far beyond the office walls.
The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Richard Bong being awarded the Medal of Honor on December 12, 1944. Touring Wisconsin with the Bong Anniversary Tour is just part of this educational effort. Learn more about the tour, where you can experience the story through a multimedia presentation, and other Bong information at the website.
Posted on May 12th, 2014 No comments
It was 74 years ago today, May 12, 1942, that 2nd Lt Richard Bong first flew the Lockheed P-38 Lighting. In the book, Dear Mom – So We Have a War, his letters home set the stage for the big day in this young pilot’s life.
2nd Lt. R.I. Bong
49th Sqdn, 14th Group
Hamilton Field, Cal.
Well, I’m here and settled in my new barracks. This is an old post and it is pretty complete and also pretty nice. I got my assignment today. I’m assigned to the 49th Pursuit Squadron of the 14th Pursuit Group stationed here at Hamilton. We start training tomorrow. Start out in ships like the airlines and then get shipped into P-38s. That is all they have here and so that is all we can fly.
Richard Ira Bong entered the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) on May 29, 1941 at Wausau, Wisconsin. He had earned his Private Pilot Certificate through the Civilian Pilot Training program (CPTP) conducted at Superior State Teachers College (UW-Superior) in Superior, Wisconsin.
Flight Cadet Bong went immediately to the Rankin Aeronautical Academy in Tulare, California, for primary training and became a member of Class 42A. He soloed the Stearman PT-17 “Kaydet” less than a month later on June 25, 1941. Next was basic training at Gardner Army Air Field (AAF), arriving on August 20. Here Cadet Bong flew the Vultee BT-13A “Valiant” and soloed this airplane on September 3, 1941. He then went to Luke AAF for advanced training in the North American AT-6A “Texan” arriving on November 4. Graduating from flight school on January 9, 1942 Bong received his wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.
2nd Lt Bong stayed at Luke as an instructor, building his skills as a pilot and adding one more aircraft type, the P-36, and flight time to his logbook. He arrived at Hamilton with 501 hours of military flight time, all of it in single engine aircraft. The “ships like the airlines” Dick wrote about in his letter home (above) was the Lockheed C-40, or its civilian designation, the Model 12 Electra. He received one hour of instruction in this type, his only twin engine time, and later that same day made his first flight in the P-38. This first flight would last 40 minutes.
Here is Dick’s next letter home:
Well I flew a C-40, (a ship like the one that flies on the airways and comes into Duluth or Superior every day), and a P-38. WOOEY!! What an airplane. That’s all I can say, but that is enough. You know what they look like from the pictures.
He continued a few paragraphs later,
Our training program is supposed to finish on the 13th and we leave the states shortly afterward, I guess. I don’t know where to, but it will be a long ways from home.
It won’t turn out quite like that, but that is another story.
The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) kicked off its Bong Anniversary Tour at the Wisconsin Aviation Conference in Wausau on May 5-7, 2014. Learn more about the tour kickoff or all of the tour details.
Posted on May 7th, 2014 No comments
The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) announced a state-wide celebration recognizing Richard Ira Bong at the Wisconsin Aviation Conference in Wausau today. In addition to the announcement, the organization showcased its Bong/Medal of Honor exhibit and distributed event materials. Keynote speaker for this evening’s banquet is WAHF board member John Dorcey who will provide an overview of Bong’s life. Major Richard Bong received the Congressional Medal of Honor, December 12, 1944, at Tacloban Airfield, Philippine Islands.
In collaboration with the Richard I. Bong Veteran’s Historical Center, Superior, Wisconsin, the celebration of Bong’s achievements will include presentations across the state by WAHF speakers throughout the year. His accomplishments will be conveyed by a multimedia presentation, four-panel exhibit, limited edition Bong trading cards, and a model of the Lockheed P-38 aircraft he flew.
WAHF speakers are available to travel throughout Wisconsin, giving presentations that highlight Bong’s background and the events that led to him being selected as a Medal of Honor recipient. Representatives from service clubs, historical societies, EAA chapters, flying clubs, or any interested parties are encouraged to contact WAHF about scheduling a presentation. To request a speaker, call Rose Dorcey at 920-385-1483 or send her an email. Read the WAHF press release.
Posted on April 4th, 2014 No comments
While winter weather continues in Wisconsin – snow is forecast for the northern half of the state, spring is definitely in the air. More and more activities, either about flying or involving flying, are appearing on the calendar. Over the next few weeks you have numerous opportunities to hear some interesting flying stories, attend two fly-in breakfasts (one with educational seminars), participate in a spot landing contest where proceeds go to charity and attend the 59th annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference. The only question is which events will you take advantage of?
S.J. Wittman Birthday Fly-in Breakfast
Saturday, April 12
Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH), Oshkosh
The Steve Wittman Chapter (Chapter 252) of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will be holding its annual S.J. Wittman birthday breakfast celebration. The event is held in the airport’s terminal building located at 525 West 20th Avenue. For those flying in you’ll park at the terminal ramp on the NE corner of the airport.
In addition to the a eggs, sausage and all you can eat pancake breakfast, a special focus on the Wittman Tailwind aircraft will be conducted. A Young Eagles event will be held in conjunction with the event. Women in Aviation, Oshkosh Chapter will be selling cupcakes as a scholarship fundraiser. The event runs from 7:30 until 11:00 a.m. Steve Wittman was born April 5, 1904; the event celebrates the famous air racer’s 110th birthday. For more information contact Dennis Moehn at 920-810-1046.
Oshkosh Chapter, Women in Aviation
Tuesday, April 15
EAA AirVenture Museum, Oshkosh
Sergeant John Jones of the Wisconsin State Patrol will explain aircraft types used and modifications to make them suitable for law enforcement purposes. He’ll cover training requirements, how the specialized technology in the aircraft operates, as well as communication and coordination systems with ground support troopers. John’s presentation includes numerous stories and photos of real world events highlighting the range of activities in which flying troopers are involved. The program begins at 7:00 PM and is open to the public. The Women in Aviation, Oshkosh Chapter meets monthly and membership is open to all pilots and aviation supporters.
Fox Valley Technical College
Saturday, April 26
Spanbauer Aviation Center, Oshkosh
FVTC’s Aviation Center’s Seventh Annual French Toast Breakfast Fly-in includes breakfast and two educational seminars. Breakfast begins at 8:00 a.m. and runs until noon. The French toast breakfast with yummy sides is an amazing $5. Local flight instructors Tim Lemke and Keith Myers will each present a safety seminar. Tim will address “The Art of Trim Control” and Keith’s presentation is “FARs Every Pilot Should Know.” The FVTC Spanbauer Aviation Center is located at 3601 Oregon Street in Oshkosh. The school’s ramp is on the east end of Delta taxiway.
59th Annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference
Monday – Wednesday, May 5 – 7
Patriot Center, Rothschild
The 2014 Wisconsin Aviation Conference begins with two networking events, golf and sporting clays, during the day. A welcome reception and dinner on Monday evening provides attendees a chance to meet and catch up with friends and associates. Tuesday morning the conference program begins with topics designed to be of interest to everyone in the aviation community. Sessions and presenters include: industry updates by the FAA and Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics, Wildlife Hazard Management, Strategic Planning, the Wisconsin Aerospace Consortium, NEXTGEN, General Aviation Hangar Construction Trends, and more. Visit www.wiama.org for more information.
EAA Speakers Series
Thursday, May 15
EAA AirVenture Museum, Oshkosh
Tom Thomas will present “Landing a C-97 at Dodgeville” as the final presenter in this year’s Speaker Series. Many of you have seen the C-97 parked outside the Don Q Inn on Hwy. 23 in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Tom will share his story of the role he played in landing that huge airplane on the short runway that once graced the Don Quinn property. Tom will discuss this experience, which took place in 1977, with explanations of preflight and runway preparations, aircraft operations, and other facts about the flight. The program begins at 7:00 PM, is open to the public and is free of charge. FMI: 920-426-6108.
Landings for Lunches
Entire month of May
Wausau Downtown Airport (KAUW)
A charity flying challenge, giving airplane pilots an opportunity to compete in a spot landing contest. Proceeds from the 2nd annual event benefit The Neighbors’ Place. During the entire month of May, pilots will attempt to land with their main wheels on or as close as possible to a box marked on the runway. Pilots will donate one dollar and a non-perishable food item (or an additional dollar) each time they compete. Donations will be split between prize money and contributions to The Neighbors’ Place. Contact John at Wausau Flying Service for more information, 715-845-3400 or visit www.WausauFlyingService.com.
Plenty of opportunities for you to “get back in the air” this spring. Bring a friend to any, or better yet all, of these events.
Posted on March 20th, 2014 No comments
Are you a full-time aviation/aerospace student from Wisconsin? Would you benefit from a scholarship? If so, we have great news for you, but you must hurry!
The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) and its foundation partner Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin recently announced an extension of its scholarship application deadline. You now have until March 31, 2014 to complete the online application package. Visit the foundation’s website and scroll down to Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame Scholarships. There you will find links to the scholarship’s guidelines as well as the online application. Past recipients are eligible for repeat awards.
WAHF has been providing scholarships to aviation students since 2001. Last year WAHF expanded its program to include full-time aviation and aerospace students attending either two or four year programs anywhere in the country. That program expansion added a Wisconsin residency requirement. Today, the organization provides nearly $3,000 annually through five individual awards in support of aviation/aerospace education.
Contact Sue Nelson, the Community Foundation’s program manager, with any questions. Sue can be reached at 715-845-9555 or by email.
Posted on February 7th, 2014 No comments
The WAHF Scholarship Program began in 2002 with a single $1,000 annual award. A second award, the Thiessen Field Scholarship was added in 2005 and, in 2007, the Jerome Ripp Memorial Scholarship increased the program’s awards to three. The Thiessen and Ripp Scholarships each provide an annual $500 award. During October 26, 2013 ceremonies, the organization presented its 26th, 27th and 28th scholarships. The program, during its short 12-year history, has provided $20,000 in awards to 28 students, representing four different schools. In addition to making those awards, WAHF announced that two additional scholarships would begin in 2014.
The Jeff Baum Scholarship is a $250 award, established by the AvFuel Corporation, which recognizes Baum for his outstanding commitment, leadership and passion for everything aviation. The Baum Scholarship is directed toward those pursuing a career in aviation business management. The $500 Robert Payzer Memorial/EAA Chapter 640 Scholarship began when the Wausau area chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association elected to recognize former member Robert Payzer. Students in any aviation/aerospace discipline will be considered for the Payzer scholarship.
The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame recently changed its scholarship program to include Wisconsin students enrolled in aviation/aerospace courses of study at colleges and universities located outside the state. The change applies to all of its scholarships, except the Thiessen Field Scholarship, which goes only to students in aviation programs at a Wisconsin technical college.
The application deadline for all scholarships is March 3, 2014. Additional information and application materials can be found at www.CFONCW.org. Questions regarding Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame scholarship criteria or application process can be directed to Sue Nelson at the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin office, firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-845-9555.
Posted on January 1st, 2014 No comments
While studying aviation’s roots you can’t help but discover how aviation history, and the stories of those who made it, are intertwined with one another. Aviation, a small world today, was an even smaller world then. It seems, everyone in aviation knew everyone else. Today, we talk of six degrees of separation, among early aviators we dare say it was closer to one degree. Aviation pioneers shared knowledge, parts, successes and failures. They worked for, or with, one another. They competed against each other. In some cases they buried one another. An article in the current issue of Forward in Flight (membership magazine of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame) provides a perfect example of these overlapping stories.
In September, 1927, Milwaukee’s Knaup Brothers – Ray, Ed and Jim, incorporated Midwest Airways and began operations at the newly formed Milwaukee County Airport. The three brothers provided air charter, pilot services, aircraft maintenance and aviation fuel. They also sold airplanes, becoming distributors for Ryan Aircraft. The brothers placed an order for an astounding 12 Mahoney-Ryan Brougham aircraft late that year. Airplane deliveries began in the spring of 1928. One of the first deliveries of the popular Brougham aircraft went to William J. Newman from Chicago, Illinois. Newman was building a lakefront resort and residential development on his soon to be finished manmade lake at Delton, Wisconsin. He used the aircraft in promotional tours and other marketing efforts. We will return to Lake Delton soon.
Another aircraft delivery, this one made by Midwest Airways pilot Elmer Leighton, left San Diego, California, during the last days of May, 1928. Leighton arrived at Kohler, Wisconsin, on June 4. Owner of this airplane was Walter J. Kohler, Sr., president of the Kohler Company. The airplane was a Ryan model B-1, Brougham, serial number 108, and held registration number NC-5220. The aircraft was powered by a 220 horsepower Wright J-5 Whirlwind engine.
Six days later the airplane was westbound as Kohler, his son Walter Jr., and Kohler Advertising Director L. L. Smith flew to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the Republican National Convention. Upon returning from Kansas City, Kohler learned that he had been nominated as Republican candidate for Wisconsin Governor. Kohler flew to Green Bay to appear before delegates of the statewide convention. Kohler used his airplane extensively in his campaign for governor, landing in 46 counties and covering 7,200 miles. Walter J. Kohler, Sr was an aviation advocate as Governor. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.
The Kohler Airport spawned many pioneer aviators, two of them becoming Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame inductees. Anton Brotz worked in the Kohler engineering department and did experimental work in high-altitude flight. Melvin Thompson was an early pilot for the Kohler, maintained company aircraft and served as the Kohler Airport Manager.
The Kohler Mahoney-Ryan airplane was purchased by Mel Thompson in 1937 who used it for charter work. He sold it to Merle Zuehlke, manager of Milwaukee’s Curtiss-Wright Airport, now Timmerman Airport (KMWC). Zuehlke used the airplane in parachute testing during World War II. Zuehlke sold the airplane sometime in late 1944 or early 1945 to Jack W. “Mac” McBoyle of Lake Delton. Mac owned two other Broughams at the time. He purchased NC-7209 from air race legend Roscoe Turner in either 1943 or 1944. This aircraft was sold in 1946. The second aircraft, NC-4940, was purchased from Johnny Livingston, another air racer. The Kohler aircraft, NC-5220, had been stored outside at McBoyle’s Lake Delton Airport. Worse for wear, it was sold for parts in 1948.
This is just one example of how people in aviation history and their stories overlap. The magazine, Forward in Flight, is published quarterly by the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF). WAHF’s annual membership fee is $20 and includes a subscription to Forward in Flight. Online membership to WAHF is available here.
Posted on December 19th, 2013 No comments
The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF), based appropriately in Dayton, Ohio, announced its “Enshrinee Class of 2014″ during a Wright Brothers Anniversary dinner on December 17. Three of next year’s enshrinees have direct ties to Wisconsin and one is an inductee of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF). The six individuals who will be inducted next year are: Bertrand B. Acosta, Alan and Dale Klapmeier, BGen James McDivitt, Emily Howell Warner and Sylvester “Steve” Wittman.
Alan and Dale Klapmeier were born in Illinois but have spent most of their lives in Wisconsin. They grew up, learned to fly and went to college here. Their early aircraft design and construction work, with friend Jeff Viken, took place at the Baraboo-Dells Airport, in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Their first design, the VK-30, was a five-seat, kit airplane with a piston-engine and pusher prop. A turbo-prop powered version, the ST-50, first flew on December 7, 1994. Moving to Duluth, Minnesota, Cirrus Design stopped working on those early designs to concentrate on their SR20 airplane. Certified by the FAA in 1998, deliveries of the SR20 began in July 1999. Today, Dale Klapmeier is the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft located in Duluth. Located just over the Richard Bong Memorial Bridge in Superior, Wisconsin, is Kestrel Aircraft, where Alan Klapmeier is CEO. The brothers continue to leave an idelible mark on aviation. Our congratulations to Alan and Dale Klapmeier.
Steve Wittman was born in Byron, Wisconsin, (3 miles south of Fond du Lac) in 1904. A childhood illness cost the young, want-to-be aviator most of his vision in one eye. He soloed in 1924 and flew an airplane of his design that he built the same year. He operated a flying service in Fond du Lac for two years beginning in 1925. About this same time, Steve discovered air racing, competing in his first race at Milwaukee in 1926. He competed in air races throughout the country for an amazing 53 years. In 1931, the owners of the Oshkosh airport invited him to manage the airport. He managed the airport, that today bears his name, for 28 years. He also operated Wittman Flying Service until 1957. Steve was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame as a member of its first class of inductees, in 1986.
These gentlemen will join nine other Wisconsin aviation notables, each of whom are enshrinees in both the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. This august group includes: Richard “Dick” Bong, James Lovell, Billy Mitchell, Mark Mitscher, Paul Poberezny, Robert Reeve, Deke Slayton, Nathan Twining and Hoyt Vandenberg. There are more than 35 state-based aviation halls of fame. We hope the NAHF selection committee looks to these “local” organizations and who they have enshrined as possible candidates for NAHF enshrinement.
Posted on October 18th, 2013 No comments
The future of aviation is alive and well. We see it every summer during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Exhibits of new aircraft designs, some consisting of new materials, others powered by new engines, all brighten our future. I spent every day of AirVenture 2013 volunteering with an exhibitor in the new Education and Interactive Zone. Located northwest of the control tower, the area was created to highlight aviation education programs and provided numerous interactive exhibits. The indoor College Park facility was constantly abuzz with activity. It was exciting to meet literally hundreds of students, teachers, and professors. Yes, the future of aviation, the future of aviation scholarship, is getting brighter everyday.
The future of aviation scholarship is bright here, at WAHF, too. The WAHF scholarship program began in 2002 with a single $1000 annual award. Through the generosity of Jerome Thiessen, and friends and family of Jerome Ripp, two additional awards were added to the program. Late last year the program was revised and expanded to include Wisconsin students attending schools outside of Wisconsin. Today, Wisconsin residents who are continuing students in an aviation/aerospace program at any 2- or 4-year school in the country are eligible for these scholarships. Earlier this year, EAA Chapter 640 in Wausau, Wisconsin, provided funds to endow a fourth WAHF scholarship award. That scholarship will begin next year. The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin (CFoNCW), located in Wausau, administers WAHF’s scholarship program.
This year, the WAHF scholarship program is presenting its 12th annual awards. To date the program has awarded $20,000 to 28 aviation students from Wisconsin. The 2013 recipients will be recognized at the organization’s annual induction ceremony and banquet on Saturday, October 26 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Carl Guell Memorial Scholarship
Alex Adduci has been selected as the 2013 Carl Guell Memorial scholarship recipient. Alex, from Eagle, Wisconsin, is an aeronautical engineering major at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Before attending college, Alex learned to fly, soloing at 16 and earning his private pilot certificate and instrument rating at 17. Alex added a commercial pilot certificate at 18, about the time he was finishing high school. Alex has participated in a number of extracurricular activities and community service projects. Currently he is serving an internship with Gulfstream in Savannah, Georgia.
“I would not be the person I am today without the wonderful support of those vested in the history and adventure of general aviation in Wisconsin,” said Alex, upon receiving word of his selection. “This scholarship that the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame has so generously offered comes as a wonderful surprise, but also makes me so very glad that we have such a dedicated group of people supporting and keeping general aviation at its finest. Thank you WAHF,” Alex added. “You have my deepest gratitude.”
Thiessen Field Scholarship
Rich Conrad, of Kiel, Wisconsin, will receive the $500 Thiessen Field award. Rich has been a private pilot for 5 years. After being laid off from a yacht manufacturer 2 years ago, he decided to pursue a career as an aircraft maintenance technician. He is an Airframe and Powerplant/Aircraft Avionics student at Fox Valley Technical College in Oshkosh.
“I have recently completed my two-year Airframe and Powerplant training course at FVTC and earned my FAA mechanic certificate with Airframe and Powerplant ratings,” said Rich. “This scholarship is a great help and wonderful gift to continuing my education in the aviation field. I hope to continue on in aviation to help others realize how exciting and enjoyable this field is; the variety, age, and technology of aircraft is endless. Thank you for your support of aviation right here in Wisconsin!”
Rich plans to continue his education, pursuing an associate degree in avionics. In addition to becoming a commercial pilot, Rich’s goal is to manage a repair facility and potentially become a flight instructor.
Jerome Ripp Memorial Scholarship
Heather Behrent, Appleton, is the recipient of the $500 Jerome Ripp Memorial scholarship. Heather is also an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics/Aircraft Avionics student at FVTC in Oshkosh. “I believe I will enjoy being in an environment where detail and quality are of utmost importance,” Heather explained when asked why she chose this field. “I express my sincere gratitude to all of the individuals involved in selecting me for this scholarship. Without foundations such as the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame, I would not be able to fulfill my dream of finishing the Airframe and Powerplant program at Fox Valley Technical College. This scholarship has given me the wonderful opportunity of being able to be a successful leader in my field of study.”
News regarding WAHF’s scholarship program will be made at the October 26 event. Establishing an award as part of the WAHF scholarship program is welcomed. You can begin the process by sending an email. Donations to the scholarship program are easily accomplished using your credit card at the CFoNCW’s secure website. One tenet of WAHF’s mission is the support of aviation education, and through our scholarship program, WAHF is “preserving the past and fostering the future of flight.”
Posted on October 16th, 2013 No comments
It was a gloomy fall day in much of Wisconsin yesterday with low hanging clouds and intermittent rain. Not so in Sheboygan where a group of aviation minded folks gathered at the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin (AHCW). By midafternoon, as if by plan, the rain stopped and the cloud bases rose and the sun was shining, if only above the overcast. About 125 people had come to dedicate the facility’s Governors Kohler Conference Room.
The Kohler family has been engaged in aviation for generations, beginning with Walter J. Kohler, then continuing with his son Walter J. Kohler, Jr. and grandson Terry J. Kohler. Each generation has used and championed for aviation. That effort continues today through support of the AHCW. John Helminiak, Executive Director, serving as emcee of the event, asked those present to remember four words, four common threads, among each of the Kohlers – Duty, Honor, Passion and Integrity. Reflecting as the program ended, it was obvious those traits were indeed prevalent in each Kohler generation.
The dedication ceremony included a presentation by Governor Scott Walker who spoke of the passion for public service that both Governors Kohler had in full measure. He then related how Terry Kohler, and his wife Mary, share that same that passion for public service while using aviation through their efforts with the International Whooping Crane Foundation and the Trumpeter Swan Recovery project.
Wisconsin and Sheboygan County each has a rich aviation history and the heritage center provides an excellent venue to share that history while providing a place for education, research and outreach. The conference room dedication is among the final entries of the heritage center’s first decade. Founded in 2004, the heritage center has grown to a first-class facility housing history displays, an aviation library, a flight school and meeting facilities. The future of AHCW looks bright as plans for a building expansion and additional aircraft displays begin to take shape and while needed funds are collected.
Many of those present at the dedication will meet again in Oshkosh, on Saturday, October 26, as Walter J. Kohler Sr. is inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. Walter Sr. was the first politician to use an aircraft while campaigning. While campaigning for governor in 1928 he used his Ryan Brougham airplane to crisscross the state. During one two-week period, Kohler flew more than 7,800 miles. During the campaign, and later as governor, he pushed for more airports, better airports and an increased aviation emphasis in Wisconsin’s national guard.