• Fritz Wolf: Badger State Ace

    Posted on January 28th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    The Wisconsin Veterans Museum unveiled a new World War II era exhibit, Fritz Wolf: Badger State Ace, during ceremonies yesterday afternoon, Friday, January 27. Fritz Wolf, a Shawano, Wisconsin, native and World War II naval aviator, flew with Claire Chennault and his fabled “Flying Tigers”. The exhibit includes numerous artifacts, photographs, and mementos from Wolf’s military service. A short video detailing a homecoming parade held upon his return from his AVG service in July 1942 completes the display. The exhibit will open to the public beginning Tuesday, January 31.

    Fritz Wolf exhibitThe new display is nestled among larger exhibits of the time period – Between the Wars, World War II, and Victory at Sea. This latter exhibit includes a large scale model of the USS Hornet (CV-8) outfitted with 16 North American B-25B aircraft of the April 1942 Doolittle Raid. Plans called for the B-25s to become an AVG bomber group in Chennault’s fledgling air force.

    Museum Director Michael Telzrow welcomed the score of visitors to the ceremony, sharing how the recently donated collection was obviously a labor of love for the Wolf family. He continued by saying, “It is a distinct honor to be selected as custodians of the rich and well-cared for collection.”  Wolf’s children, Catherine White, Linda Ryckeghem, and Richard Wolf, donated the collection to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum late last year. Telzrow then introduced the museum’s curator of history, Jeff Kollath. Kollath told of the Wolf materials’ depth and detail. He closed his comments stating, “The museum is most proud to exhibit the Wolf materials.”

    The Winter 2011 edition of The Bugle, quarterly publication of the museum, featured Fritz Wolf on its cover and included an article detailing his career. A reception for family and friends was held following the ceremony.

    Wisconsin Veterans Museum logoThe museum is unique in that it is a division of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. The Wisconsin legislature enacted law in 1901 requiring the state to establish a memorial dedicated to commemorating Wisconsin’s role in the Civil War and any other subsequent war. The museum meets the and exceeds the requirements of that law. Today, the museum’s exhibits include award-winning dioramas, full-scale replicas of Sopwith Camel and North American P-51 airplanes, a Huey UH-1 helicopter, and more. The current facility, located at 30 West Mifflin Street, on Madison’s Capitol Square, opened its doors June 6, 1993.The museum has 10,000 square feet of exhibit space with an additional 7,000 square feet of storage area. A gift shop, offices, lecture hall, meeting rooms, and a research area complete the museum’s facilities.

    Fritz Wolf was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) in 1989. Lance Sijan, a WAHF inductee in 2006, is also the subject of a Wisconsin Veterans Museum exhibit.

  • Bob Skuldt has Gone West

    Posted on December 21st, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    The fabric of aviation is interwoven with threads of aviators of all types. A common part of each of those threads, each of those aviators, is passion. That fabric lost a thread on Monday, December 19, 2011. Bob Skuldt, a very passionate aviator, has gone west.

    Douglas C-47, Wisconsin Air National Guard

    Douglas C-47, Wisconsin Air National Guard

    Bob’s passion for aviation was evident that day in 1928 when he skipped school and rode his bike to the Royal Airport on Madison’s south side. Everyone’s aviation hero, Charles Lindbergh, was scheduled to land there. Bob wanted, you might say Bob needed, to be there, to witness Lindbergh’s arrival. Afterward Bob said, “I told myself that is what I want to do.”

    Bob began his flight training after graduating from Madison’s Central High School. He had a partner join him shortly after beginning his training, a partner that would never leave his side. His wife Letty, then his girlfriend, loaned Bob the money he needed to buy his first airplane. The story goes that he never repaid her.

    After earning his flight instructor rating in July 1942, Skuldt taught glider students for the US Army in Janesville and basic flight training to potential US Navy pilots in Middleton. Bob was granted a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, US Army Air Corps, on November 18, 1943. He would spend the next 10 months ferrying aircraft to the European Theater. On September 22, 1944, Bob delivered a C-87 (cargo version of the B-24) to the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater. He remained in the CBI, flying 72 missions over the “Hump”.

    Bob Skuldt, Airport Director KMSN

    Bob Skuldt, Airport Director, Dane County Regional Airport

    Returning home to Madison he was one of the original officers of the post-war Wisconsin Air National Guard. He was hired, from a field of 26 candidates, as manager of the Madison, Wisconsin airport. Bob would hold that position for more than 34 years. Skuldt reportedly gave his operations crew time off for deer hunting one year. A Thanksgiving Day snowstorm found Bob and Letty driving plows to clear the airport’s runways.

    According to Dane County Administrator Clayton Dunn, “Bob was an excellent manager who worked well with his employees.” Dunn went on to say, “He was the consummate gentleman, not only professionally but also as a friend. He left a perfect legacy for this community.”

    Bob logged 7,300 hours flying 50 different types of aircraft during his flying career. He retired as a colonel from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1971. Bob served as airport director for the Madison/Dane County Regional Airport for nearly 35 years, retiring in 1981. He was a founding member of the Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA). He was the organization’s president in 1972. Skuldt was also a founding member of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).

    Skuldt served even in retirement. He served on the Dane County Board of Supervisors for eight years, served as Chairman of the Dane County Regional Airport Commission, and was a consultant to Republic Airlines. Bob received many awards and recognitions over the years. Letty was at Bob’s side when he was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006. Pete Drahn, WAMA Executive Director, said, “Bob… hired me in 1975 starting off my airport career. He was a military and private pilot, WWII combat veteran, husband, father, and good friend. As a member of the greatest generation, Bob will be sorely missed.”

    Bob is survived by his wife Letty and their son Gregory.

    FMI – http://host.madison.com/news/local/obituaries/skuldt-robert-b/article_ad7eb34e-2cb3-11e1-b796-0019bb2963f4.html