• An Old and Yes, a Bold Pilot

    Posted on October 12th, 2013 John Dorcey 4 comments
    Central County Airport (68C)

    Central County Airport (68C), photo courtesy WisDOT Aero

    Yesterday was a great day for flying – the morning air was like glass, the fall colors were dramatic in the glittering sunlight, and there was a birthday celebration to attend.  Even better, a birthday party at an airport. This wasn’t just any birthday and Iola’s Central County Airport (68C) isn’t just any airport. You might assume that this little gem of a landing facility is in the central part of Wisconsin. Actually located east of the state’s geographic center, it is however in the center of Waupaca County.

    Each of the airport’s three turf runways provide a challenge for pilots. There are trees, wires or farm buildings providing distractions during the approach. Then there are the relatively short runways – average length is barely 2000 feet. Almost every Friday throughout the year, the Central County Flyers Association hosts a lunch that draws a crowd. Yesterday, it was an exceptional crowd. Early reports put the unconfirmed number of aircraft that flew in at just over 50, including a pretty Beech 18 from Manitowoc (KMTW). The auto parking lot was overflowing with an estimated 75 vehicles.

    You could assume that it was the food or the beautiful fall weather that attracted the crowd. While it is true those things helped, everyone was there to celebrate the 100th birthday of local pilot Paul Johns. Paul was born in Indiana on October 11, 1913, raised in Illinois, and spent his adult life in Wisconsin. Well he lived in Wisconsin when he wasn’t flying somewhere else in the world. Paul soloed a glider at the tender age of 15 in 1929. Two years later he soloed a Curtiss Pusher and another year later, at age 18, he held a limited commercial pilot certificate. Joining the Naval Reserve during the Depression, Paul acquired a radio repair certificate and his A&E aircraft mechanic certificate. He then began instructing naval cadets in the Link Trainer. He was hired by Pan Am Airlines in 1939 to develop their instrument training program.

    Air race legend Bill Brennand (left) and Paul Johns (right) elder statesmen of Wisconsin aviation

    Air race legend Bill Brennand (left) and Paul Johns (right) elder statesmen of Wisconsin aviation

    Paul achieved his ultimate goal when he was named a line pilot for the carrier, first flying DC-3s throughout the Caribbean and South America. Then, in 1944, Paul was transferred to the carrier’s Pacific fleet where he flew the PB2Y3 and the fabled Boeing 314 Clipper. Captain Johns completed 220 trans-Pacific flights. His growing family pulled him away from those long flights and Pan Am and he hired on as a corporate pilot in Racine, Wisconsin. He flew Beech 18s for J.I. Case and a DC-3 for Walker Engineering. Reaching retirement age Paul transferred into the Walker’s engineering department.

    Just part of the crowd celebrating Paul John's 100th Birthday at Iola's Central County Airport

    Just part of the crowd celebrating Paul John’s 100th Birthday at Iola’s Central County Airport

    He may have retired from corporate flying but he never lost his love of flying and maintaining aircraft. At the tender age of 75, Paul ordered plans and materials for a Kitfox homebuilt airplane. One year after construction began, the aircraft made its first flight. He flew the airplane for seven years before selling it. After 66 years of flying Paul hung up his goggles. Paul remains active in the electronics and computer fields. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009. He’s attended every annual event since.

    Paul still drives himself out to the Central County Airport every Friday for lunch. You will find him seated at the end of a picnic table where he shares his many flying stories with anyone who asks. The twinkle in his eye seems to get brighter as he moves along each story. His reliving those history making flights must keep him young. Happy Birthday Paul! Captain Johns, you are amazing, for at 100, you are indeed an old pilot and a bold pilot.

  • Sputnik IV impacts in Manitowoc 51 years ago today

    Posted on September 5th, 2013 Michael Goc No comments

    This article first appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Forward in Flight, a quarterly membership magazine published by the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.

    Sputnik IV in Manitowoc
    WAHF has a new photo entry in its archives. The image depicts WAHF board member and space bug Tom Thomas at the exact spot where a fragment of a Soviet Sputnik satellite crashed in 1962. Tom is kneeling just about in the center of North Eighth Street in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where a brass ring marks the point of impact.

    Tom Thomas at Sputnik IV impact site

    Tom Thomas at Sputnik IV impact site

    The Soviet Union launched Sputnik IV in May 1960; three years after the famous Sputnik. It shocked the American aerospace community with the realization that “we” had lost the first round of the space race to our Cold War adversaries. With a manned space flight in their plans, the Soviets had placed a dummy “cosmonaut” in Sputnik IV. They also hoped to bring the satellite back from space and retrieve the “cosmonaut” and scientific data intact. They began the re-entry process in June 1960 but the ship’s orientation mechanism failed and Sputnik instead entered an elliptical and temporary orbit around the earth.

    The Soviets were still receiving radio transmissions from Sputnik until it re-entered the atmosphere in the early morning hours of September 5, 1962. At about 4:30 a.m., central standard time, a fragment 8- by 3-inches came out of the sky and bored three inches into the pavement on Eighth Street. City police soon arrived on the scene and took custody of the metallic hunk. Smaller pieces of debris were later found on the roof of a nearby church. All were turned over to the FBI and pieces were later transferred to several research labs for analysis. Scientists at Harvard University discovered traces of the rare black crystal known as wustite and the usually unstable mineral akaganite. Both were formed when iron and oxygen in the satellite were subjected to the intense pressure and heat of re-entry. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory sent staff to Manitowoc to search for additional specimens.

    After completing its analysis, the United States offered to return the fragment to the Soviets but, exhibiting the puzzling combination of arrogance, secrecy, and fear common at the time, they refused. After a few months passed and the publicity died, the Soviets said they would take the fragment after all. Replicas were fabricated, and one is on display at the Rahr West Museum in Manitowoc.

    Sputnik IV plaque, Manitowoc, WI

    Sputnik IV plaque, Manitowoc, WI

    The crash of the satellite was a surprise in Manitowoc but a corps of amateur and professional astronomers knew it was coming and observers from as far away as Eagle River in the north to Milwaukee in the south saw it break up on re-entry and appear to scatter more than one chunk of debris on its way down.

    Inevitably, questions have been asked. Could more fragments of Sputnik IV have survived re-entry intact? Might they yet be found in some backwoods farm field, or wetland in northeast Wisconsin? Nobody knows.

    The truth is out there.

  • New inductees to join Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) has been recognizing Wisconsin’s aviation heroes for 27 years. In that time, 113 individuals have been inducted into the hall of fame. From those whose names are familiar to many, like Billy Mitchell, Steve Wittman, and Jim Lovell, to those known only by aviators, or those who know their story, such as A.P. Warner, John Kaminski, or Libby Parod. These men and women are Wisconsin’s aviation heroes all. This year, the 28th year, WAHF will induct five aviation notables. Make plans now to join in the celebration held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on Saturday, October 26, 2013. This year’s WAHF inductees  are Bill Adams, Jeff Baum, Arnold Ebneter, Walter J. Kohler, and Ron Scott.

    Bill Adams

    William “Bill” Adams, Watertown, WI

    Born in Watertown, Wisconsin, Bill Adams was working as a machinist in Milwaukee when he began flight training. After earning his Private, then Commercial Pilot Certificate, he began work as a crop duster. In 1948 he saw a Cole Brothers Air Show and everything changed. By 1952, Bill had become a fixture with the Cole Brothers show. Then in 1960 he struck out on his own forming Bill Adams Airshow. A savvy businessman, Bill was among the first to acquire a national sponsor and develop his own brand. In 1966 an equipment failure at low altitude resulted in a fatal crash, ending Bill’s life.

    Jeff Baum

    Jeff Baum, Watertown, WI

    Jeff Baum lectured in business at UW-Whitewater to underwrite his business startup – Watertown Aviation in 1978. Several years later the fledgling business would take off and become Wisconsin Aviation with facilities at Dodge County Airport, Dane County Regional Airport, and Watertown Municipal Airport. Another branch opened its doors in Milledgeville (near Atlanta), Georgia. The company also has an affiliate Wisconsin Aviation – Europe in Germany. Baum is recognized as a leader in state and national aviation organizations serving on the boards of several. Jeff is also active in his home community of Watertown. He also somehow finds time to fly having logged over 17,000 hours.

    Arnold Ebneter took his first airplane ride at the age of seven when a barnstormer landed near his Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, home in 1936. He began his flying lessons in 1943 while in high school in Portage, Wisconsin. Arnold continued his training earning his commercial, flight instructor and A&P mechanic certificates while a student at the University of Minnesota. Leaving Minnesota, Ebneter became an aviation cadet in the US Air Force. After earning his wings and a commission in 1953, he flew North American’s F-86 Sabre and later, their F-100, Super Sabre. The USAF then sent Arnold to Texas A&M to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Tours in Vietnam would provide him plenty of flying experience, logging 325 combat missions. After leaving the Air Force, Arnold worked for Boeing and on his personal life-long project, the E-1. Just last year, in that aircraft, Ebneter completed a record-setting flight of more than 2,300 miles in a C-1a class airplane.

    Gov Walter J. Kohler

    Gov Walter J. Kohler

    Walter J. Kohler was 25 years old when he took over the plumbing equipment company his father founded decades earlier. The Kohler Company expanded its product lines under young Walter, building gas-powered engines and generators. Together those two pieces of equipment became “Automatic Electric Plants” and powered the navigation system of lighted airway beacons. By 1932 there were more than 1,200 Kohler units lighting the US airways. Kohler also recognized the benefits of air travel for business and purchased a Ryan B-1 Bourgham aircraft. In 1928, while running for governor of Wisconsin, Kohler logged more than 7,200 flying miles, landing in 42 of the state’s 72 counties. He used the opportunity to urge local governments to work with businesses and expand their airport facilities. Winning the election, he became known as “The Flying Governor”. As governor, Kohler expanded the number of aviation aides in the Wisconsin National Guard.

    Ronn Scott

    Ron Scott, East Troy WI

    Ron Scott was born in Tomah, Wisconsin, spending hours of his youth designing and building model airplanes. In 1953, he enlisted in the US Air Force and served three years a crew chief/loadmaster on Douglas C-54 Skymaster and C-124 Globemaster aircraft. He left the Air Force in 1956, moved to the Milwaukee area, bought a 1941 Taylorcraft, took flying lessons at the Capitol Drive Airport and met Paul Poberezny. That meeting changed Scott’s life. Poberezny encouraged Ron to build an airplane, the idea of building it from fiberglass was all Ron’s idea. Old Ironsides is recognized as the first airplane to use fiberglass structurally in a stressed skin application. Ron has donated more than 50 years of his life to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) working on the communications systems, serving on the organization’s board of directors and various committees.

    Join us as we celebrate the lives, the careers, the accomplishments of these aviation heroes. The induction ceremony will be held in the Founder’s Wing of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh on Saturday, October 26, 2013. Additional event details are available here.  Online registration process, using your credit card, begins here. A press release with additional information on the inductees is also available.

  • Alexander Field Celebrates its 85th Anniversary with Link to its Past

    Posted on August 29th, 2013 Rose Dorcey No comments

    Ford Tri-Motor is central to the airport’s roots

    Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport (KISW) is celebrating its 85th anniversary this weekend, and an airplane like one that’s forever linked to the airport’s history will be there all weekend. EAA’s 1929 Ford Tri-Motor arrived in Wisconsin Rapids today. Airport Manager Howard Joling encourages community members to come out to celebrate the airport’s rich heritage.

    “It’s not just an airport anniversary, but for the whole community, the airport is something that started when the mills were in their infancy, and things were beginning to grow and take off,” said Joling, explaining the airport’s longstanding significance to the city. “When the airport started, Nekoosa Papers had their Ford Tri-Motor here, which they purchased in 1928, and used it as promotion for its company.”

    And while the Nekoosa Papers’ Tri-Motor didn’t survive the decades, it was destroyed by a tornado in Iowa long ago, EAA’s Tri-Motor Model 4-AT is very similar.

    EAA's Ford AT-4 Tri-Motor

    EAA’s Ford AT-4 Tri-Motor

    “Our aircraft was built in 1929,” explains Ed Rusch, of Coldwater, Michigan, captain of EAA’s Ford Tri-Motor. “There was a Ford Tri-Motor brought here by an industrialist who had operations in this area in 1928. It was an earlier version of this aircraft, but basically the same.”

    Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Company purchased the plane in 1928 for $48,000, according to Joling. The industrialist Rusch spoke of, John Alexander, then the paper company’s manager, purchased 330 acres to be used for a new airport. It’s been in operation since. At one time, it was served by Midstate Airlines. Today, it’s an important economic agent for the community, says Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink. Hear Mayor Vruwink’s comments here.

    Today’s arrival of EAA’s Ford, NC8407, was highly anticipated by area news representatives, who eagerly stepped on board for a 20-minute flight over Wisconsin Rapids. It was an opportunity to link to the city’s past, and imagine what the area looked like in the late ’20s, with its rivers, lakes, forests, and paper mills. Dozens of men and women gathered to take pictures and see the plane up close, and view the numerous historic airport photos on display.

    Ruth Johnson, Wisconsin Rapids pilot

    Ruth Johnson, Wisconsin Rapids pilot

    One woman stood out. Ruth Johnson, nee Blount, shared her personal history with the Wisconsin Rapids airport. “A gentleman named Jim Johnson had spray painted an old hangar at the airport in 1957,” Ruth recalled. “Several of us then formed a local Civil Air Patrol branch to practice searching for downed planes.”

    Ruth Blount was 19 years old in 1958. She and Jim became friends. “Jim bought an Ercoupe in 1958,” Ruth continued. “He told me I could take lessons in his plane. I did, and after seven hours, I soloed.” Ruth paused, then smiled and added, “Some of the guys had nine hours.” Ruth was told that she was the first woman who had soloed an airplane at the airport.

    Ruth and Jim got along well, and were married in 1961. They flew for many years together, creating many warm memories. “We would fly to Green Bay for a hamburger and a malt, and fly back without a flight plan,” she recalled. “Many happy hours were spent in the air.”

    Jim and Ruth Johnson made a home in Biron, a village just east of Wisconsin Rapids. When Jim died in 1990, Ruth got out of flying.

    “It just wasn’t fun anymore,” she said.

    But being back at the airport, running into old friends and making new ones with her effervescent smile, brought back good times for Ruth. “Oh, it’s good to be back at the airport,” she said. “You meet such nice people through aviation.”

    As if taking a ride in a rare, historic airplane to view the beautiful Wisconsin Rapids area isn’t reason enough to stop at the airport this weekend, Ruth may have just convinced you.

    Tri-Motor flights  are available from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday through Monday, for $75, or $50 for kids 17 and under. EAA Chapter 706, based at Alexander Field, is offering breakfast from 8 – 10:30 on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Lunch is by the American Legion throughout the weekend from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. A hangar dance, with ’20s and ’30s music by the Swaneee River Oriole Orchestra (Ruth’s son, Johnny, is a member) takes place Saturday night from 7 – 10. We hope to see you there!


  • Cumberland Airport Has New Name

    Posted on August 29th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    Four years ago, nearly to the day, we wrote regarding a suggestion to rename the Waukesha Airport. The suggestion came from the editorial staff of the Waukesha Freeman newspaper. Our article, What’s In a Name, discussed Wisconsin’s airports, their names, and how or why that name was chosen. We disagreed with the suggestion to change Waukesha’s and the change didn’t come about.

    Fast forward to late August 2013 when WAHF member/supporter Brad Volker, Rice Lake, shared an article from the Cumberland Advocate. The article details the histories of two airport benefactors whose work will be acknowledged as the City of Cumberland changes the airport’s name from Cumberland Municipal Airport (KUBE) to Toftness/Erickson Field. We thank the Cumberland Advocate for providing permission to reprint their article. We also recognize the article’s author John Ostrem, a member of the Cumberland Airport Commission.

    Commission to name Airfield after local aviators

    Toftness / Erickson Field
    Aviation pioneers Irving Nordeen “IN” Toftness and Willard “Bud” Erickson will have the Cumberland Airfield named in their honor at the Fly-In pancake breakfast held during the Rutabaga Festival, Sunday August 25 at 10:30 AM. Mayor Tom Mysicka will officiate at the ceremony honoring each of these pilots that started the Cumberland Airport in June of 1946. Today the Airport with its 4,000’ hard surface runway, arrival and departure building, 17 hangars with 21 aircraft represents a nearly $10 million replacement cost and serves 11,000 landings/takeoffs each year.


    Local chiropractor “IN” Toftness moved to Cumberland in 1932 fresh from Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa. He became interested in aviation taking flying lessons in 1939. His wife Louise followed earning her pilots license which was extremely unusual for a woman in those early years of aviation. They had no children and flying became their “only hobby“ according to Dr. Tom Toftness of Cumberland. IN and Louise flew their small planes to the four corners of the United States whenever they had time off from the clinical practice.


    Toftness saw the need for an airport and in 1946, together with CJ and Linda Burton purchased 40 acres of farm land at the current airport site to create their own field. The original airport had several small “T-Hangars,” where airplanes were kept and serviced. Records indicate mechanic Ray Peterson had several small training planes operating on the field. Peterson is the uncle of current Airport Manager Al Seierstad.


    Throughout his flying career IN Toftness owned five different Cessna airplanes and gave rides to Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and residents of Cumberland. Many tell of their first rides and citizens remember Toftness flying low over town late at night to signal people to take cars to the airport to light the runway.


    In addition to the original 40 acres of land, Toftness and Louise made a significant gift in excess of $200,000 for constructing a hard surface runway. Federal funds were available but without the generous gift from their Living Trust, the Cumberland Airport would have remained a grass cow pasture.


    Our second aviation pioneer is Willard “Bud” Erickson who also dedicated his life to the Cumberland Airport. Erickson was a highly decorated Navy fighter pilot with service in WWII and the Korean War. Following the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing, Erickson declined a deferment for farming and went to Navy Flight School to follow his dream of flight. Erickson flew 14,400 hours in Navy airplanes and achieved the rank of Lt. Commander. Erickson and wife Doris returned to Cumberland following the Korean War and Bud flew for the Department of Natural Resources as a fire watch spotter and enforced game laws.


    Erickson spent countless hours working with Federal officials to get navigation beacons and lights at the airport and could always be found on the mower and snow blower taking care of the runway. Erickson saw the need to build a longer hard-surface runway to accommodate larger planes so he and Doris generously traded land from their home farm with a local farmer to create the runway.


    The longer runway allowed the State of Wisconsin to designate Cumberland as the loading site for aircraft taking hearing impaired school-age children to a residential school in Delevan. State planes would load students every Sunday afternoon and return on Friday evenings throughout the school year.


    Over the years there have been many businesses at the airport including a travel agency, charter flight service, aircraft and instrument repair facilities, and Romeo Aviation Flight Training School. The airport is used by local businesses including 3M, Seneca Foods, engineering companies, SW Bell Communications, and when the weather is below minimums helicopters from the hospital use the radio beacons to land.


    Both Toftness and Erickson families had aviation as part of their heritage. Mark Erickson is a pilot, Max Erickson is a commercial pilot for UPS flying an AirBus 300 and several of the Toftness relatives are pilots and commercial pilots.


    We have come long way from the early years of Cumberland’s grass strip in a “cow pasture” to the high tech airport with GPS navigation, weather forecasting, and communications systems.


    IN Toftness, whose passion for aviation was matched by his world class respected chiropractic procedures and responsible for starting the airport. Lt Commander “Bud” Erickson, a frightfully young patriotic farm boy launched from aircraft carriers in two wars defending American freedoms, whose leadership and dedication to safety was responsible for so many improvements that we take for granted today. Mayor Mysicka said, “We are very lucky to have such an excellent airport as a community asset and we have these pioneers to thank. It is a great honor for our City to name our field after them.

    Changing an airport’s name to recognize the passion and dedication of two local aviators and sharing their history makes sense. It is a change we can support. Congratulations Cumberland on your “new” airport.

  • Skyroads

    Posted on July 12th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    Milwaukee native Lester Maitland added to the roar of the Roaring 20’s. Just a youngster when, in 1917, he entered the Air Service, he was a military flight instructor at age 19. Following the war, he flew in many speed competitions and military flight demonstrations. On October 14, 1922, he became the first US military pilot to fly faster than 200 MPH. Just a year later he flew at speeds barely shy of 250 MPH. Then in June 1927, Maitland, and navigator Albert Hegenberger, flew a Fokker C-2 from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. That record setting flight earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross and the MacKay Trophy for 1927.

    cover of the book Knights of the Air by Lieutenant Lester J. Maitland

    Knights of the Air by Lester J. Maitland

    While continuing his military career, Maitland added writing to his resume. His book, Knights of the Air, was published in 1928. In the preface, Maitland shares that his effort is to present a series of short stories… “a story of human beings, a compelling drama of men and events swift in action and full of unexpected turns.” He writes not as a 30-year old, first-time author unsure of his topic but as an acquaintance, a friend, a contemporary of those whose stories he shares.

    Skyroads, the comic, begins

    Skyroads, the comic, begins

    The next year, in 1929, he began a partnership with fellow Air Service instructor and artist Dick Calkins. They collaborated on Skyroads, a daily comic strip with Maitland providing the story line and Calkins the art work.  The comic strip was subtitled, For Passenger and Pilot.

    In the very first panel Maitland shared his thoughts on aviation and its affect on humankind. “Millions upon millions of people now living will share the exaltation of air travel either as passengers or pilots and to all these comrades of the air I dedicate this work.” Each daily installment provided the strip’s protagonists Ace Ames and Buster Evans, partners in the new aviation company “Skyroads Unlimited”, an opportunity to teach readers about aviation.

    Maitland left the team in 1933. There were many spinoffs throughout the life of Skyroads and its derivatives. There were flying clubs with ranks, wings and ‘orders’. There were comic books, feature books and even a radio program. A short time after Maitland’s departure, the strip began losing its appeal, eventually fewer newspapers carried the comic and the series ended in 1942.

    Maitland’s story doesn’t end there. He was serving as base commander of Clark Field in Manila, Philippine Islands during the attack on December 8, 1941. Later, he would serve as commander of the 386th bomb group, a B-26 unit based in Boxted, England. Maitland retired from the military in November, 1943.

  • Flying for a Cause

    Posted on June 26th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments
    Presentation of cash and food to Wausau's The Neighbors Place (TNP). (L/R) Tom Rau, Exec Dir, TNP, Bob Mohr, contest winner, Aidyn Laurynz, Director of Community Support and John Chmiel, Wausau Flying Service

    Presentation to The Neighbors Place (TNP). (L/R) Tom Rau (TNP), Bob Mohr, Aidyn Laurynz (TNP) and John Chmiel, Wausau Flying Service

    Pilots, and those studying to be pilots, fly for many different reasons. We fly to go somewhere, take someone somewhere, or take someone’s stuff somewhere. We fly for fun, for work and sometimes we fly just because we can. We also fly for training and proficiency. A dozen Wausau-area pilots took the training and proficiency reason for flying and added a cause. They flew to help a Wausau food pantry.

    Several pilots had gathered at the Wausau Downtown Airport (KAUW) and were talking about flying, as pilots are oft to do. The discussion drifted to flying proficiency and landing practice. Soon the discussion had become a brainstorming session on ways to combine fundraising and flying. Before long it was decided, a precision landing competition, “Landings for Lunches”, would be held. Competitors would pay a small entry fee and donate a food item for each spot landing attempt.

    Reaching out to local businesses, the pilots were able to multiply the collected funds and food stuffs. The following businesses sponsored the contest and contributed matching funds: Christian Family Medical Clinic, Kocourek Automotive Group, Philips 66, Wausau Flying Service, the City of Wausau, Security Realty, Mohr’s Automotive, First Impressions, Jones Cabinetry and Aircraft Maintenance of Wausau.

    Landings 4 Lunches contest winner Bob Mohr stands in front of his Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser

    Landings 4 Lunches contest winner Bob Mohr stands in front of his Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser

    The “Landings for Lunches” event was a precision landing competition, also known as spot landing contest. The pilot is challenged to have their main wheels touch down on, or as close as possible beyond a line across the runway. Landings short of the line, or more than 100 feet past the line, do not qualify. Wausau pilot Bob Mohr won the contest in his Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser. His landing was a scant 6 inches beyond the line.

    Held in May, more than $1000 in cash and food stuffs was presented to The Neighbors Place following the month-long contest. Plans are for another contest to be held next year. That means we pilots have a whole year to practice our landing skills before we too, can fly for a cause.

  • Money Problem

    Posted on May 8th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    A longtime friend dies and leaves you a generous gift. Sounds like a problem many of us would like to have, or upon reflection, would we? That is exactly what happened to Wausau, Wisconsin’s EAA Chapter 640. Looking at the big picture, the chapter had several genuine concerns. Some members were afraid that the money would detract from the group’s primary focus. Others were concerned about the what and who questions. What projects would be chosen and who would spend the time and effort at oversight? It became apparent that the gift brought with it obligations and responsibilities the chapter felt might be better handled by others. They then looked for help and found it with two like-minded organizations.

    Chapter members looked for someone who had experience in awarding scholarships. Most members were aware of the Wausau-based Archie Towle Aviation Endowment Fund and some knew of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) and its scholarship award program. Research and discussions among members continued until last month’s chapter meeting. After motions were made and some discussion, the votes were tallied and both organizations were recipients of a $10,000 gift. Donation checks were presented during a brief ceremony at the Wausau Downtown Airport (KAUW) yesterday afternoon.

    Bob Mohr, EAA Chapter 640 president, said in opening remarks, “We are proud to be helping young men and women through the establishment of a new scholarship fund with the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.” He shared how the chapter’s donation is a result of an estate gift left to the chapter by Bob Payzer, a Wausau native and friend of the chapter who passed away in 2010. Rose Dorcey, WAHF president, stated, “WAHF is pleased to have EAA Chapter 640 as a partner in furthering our scholarship program and appreciate their commitment to supporting aviation education.” Dorcey continued, “The Wausau area has a long history of aviation visionaries and we feel their spirit in the chapter’s donation.”

    The chapter’s donation, the largest single gift WAHF has received to date, will endow a new, named scholarship. The $500 award will be presented annually. Successful applicants for the new scholarship will be Wisconsin residents who are full-time aviation/aerospace students at US technical schools, colleges, or universities with strong academic performance, civic involvement, and extracurricular activities.

    Sid Cohen and Bob Mohr from EAA Chapter 640 join reps from Archie Towle Foundation, Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame and Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin

    Sid Cohen (left) and Bob Mohr from EAA Chapter 640 join Rose Marie Towle, Bob Wylie, Wynne Williams, Rose Dorcey, Jean Tehan and John Dorcey

    Rose Towle and Bob Wylie represented the Towle Aviation Endowment Fund. Rose related that initial funding for their scholarship came from her step-son, Brad Towle, in memory of his father Larry Towle as a tribute to his grandfather, Archie. The fund has provided more than $36,000 to 16 Wausau-area recipients. Bob Wylie, a member of the fund’s advisory committee stated, “The gift to the Towle Fund will increase the scholarship by about $500 each year. The cost of flight training is high, and through this generous gift, students will find some relief of the financial burden of their education.”

    The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, based in Wausau, is the administrator for both the Archie Towle Aviation Fund and WAHF’s scholarship program. Executive Director of the foundation, Jean Tehan, served as ceremony emcee. Other foundation staff participating were Program Manager Sue Nelson and Operations Director Tammy Szekress.


  • 2013 Wisconsin Aviation Conference

    Posted on April 29th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    Spring has taken forever to arrive in Wisconsin this year. In fact, many of our northern airports have a foot or more of that white stuff still on the ground. It was prophetic planning by the conference committee to locate this year’s event in Madison (south central WI). Midday temps in the mid-60s provided perfect weather for the pre-conference social events of sporting clays and a golf tourney.

    A welcome reception with nearly 40 exhibitors will draw attendees back to the Marriott Madison West Conference and Trade Center. Wild stories of fantastic tee shots and busted clays will undoubtedly fill the room. Dinner will be held at the nearby Capitol Brewery. The Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA) will be presenting their 2013 Blue Light Award, recognizing excellence in reporting Wisconsin aviation news and information.

    The conference reconvenes on Tuesday at 9:00 AM and continues through Wednesday lunch. More information is available at the WAMA website. Conference registrations are available at the door.

  • WAHF Expands Scholarship Program

    Posted on March 25th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) , as part of its mission, looks to promote aviation education for future generations. One way the organization achieves that mission is through the awarding of scholarships. The program began in 2002 when WAHF presented its first scholarship. Since then the program has literally taken off. Today the organization announced an expansion to the program.

    2012 WAHF Scholarship recipients

    2012 WAHF Scholarship recipients

    Wisconsin residents who are continuing students in a 2 or 4-year accredited aviation or aerospace program are eligible for either the Carl Guell or Jerome Ripp Memorial Scholarships. These awards are based on scholastic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities at school and within the community. The Theissen Field Scholarship is awarded to a student enrolled in an aviation program provided by any of Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges. This award places financial need above scholastic ability.

    Applications for any of the three awards are available through the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. Look for either the Jerome Theissen Aviation Financial Assistance Fund or Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame Scholarship from the list of awards. Applications must be completed and received by the foundation by April 15. Applicants are asked to attend WAHF’s induction ceremony held annually in Oshkosh, WI during October. Additional details are found in the organization’s press release. Donations to WAHF’s scholarship fund can be made through either the Community Foundation or WAHF.