• Governors Kohler Conference Room

    Posted on October 16th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments
    Conference room dedication reception

    Conference room dedication reception

    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.

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

    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.

    Governors Kohler Conference Room

    Governors Kohler Conference Room

    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.

  • Planes, trains, and automobiles

    Posted on June 21st, 2009 John Dorcey 2 comments

    When I agreed to attend today’s Wings and Wheels event at the Sheboygan County Airport (KSBM) to staff the Wisconsin Centennial of Flight exhibit, I felt a certain amount of angst. It wasn’t that I don’t like pancake breakfasts or fly-ins. My problem is one of change. You see, I have attended the Palmyra Father’s Day Fly-in almost every year for the last 30 years. It is where my Dad, my two sons, and I have shared a Father’s Day breakfast for as long as my sons have been off baby formula. But change is inevitable and so off to Sheboygan and the 19th annual Wings and Wheels.

    Breakfast is served, Wings and Wheels 2009

    We arrived at the Sheboygan County Airport (KSBM) just before 7:00 AM. My wife, Rose, and I laid out our WAHF materials and headed to the breakfast line. The smell of pancakes and sausage quickly overpowered my desire to stay on my diet (tomorrow is another day). The EAA Chapter 766 folks greeted us with smiles, hot coffee, cakes, and sausages cooked to perfection.

    The fly-in traffic started to fill the traffic pattern before we sat down to eat. The drive-in traffic was a close second. The food line began to fill up before we finished our first pancake and didn’t slack until after 11:00. Last year’s event totaled more than 1000 breakfasts. My unscientific count indicates a number even higher this year. Breakfast was served in the Aviation Heritage Center of Sheboygan County – a first-class facility.

    Sheboygan County (KSBM) ramp, Wings and Wheels 2009

    Outside the temperature wasn’t the only thing heating up. The arriving/departing aircraft and static displays drew crowds to the flightline. Antique and classic aircraft were most common after the typical Cessna, Piper, and Beech attendees. The military was represented by a trio of T-28s, a T-6, an L-39, and one or two others that slipped below my radar. One hangar east of the Aviation Heritage Center, the Sheboygan Area Radio Kontrol Society (SHARKS) had a massive display of scale aircraft.

    The next hangar to the east provided a huge (24 x 40 foot) HO-scale train layout by the Sheboygan Society of Scale Model Railroad Engineers Limited. This large, modular layout kept the engineers busy operating trains while answering the miriad of questions asked by young and old alike. The layout was redone in 2007 and reflects the pride and workmanship of the organization’s members.

    Car Show cutie, Wings and Wheels 2009

    Just as the airside of the event began to wind down the car show took off. Not just a car show mind you, this event included classic cars, antique cars, several hot rods, steam engines, fire trucks, farm tractors (steam, gas, and diesel), and a hand-crank Calliope. Aromas filled the air as the food vendors worked hard keeping everyone fed. The alfresco setting among the planes, trains, and automobiles made the day one to remember.

    A great day for a fly-in. The weather was perfect, the crowds appreciative, and the food – well it is hard to beat a fly-in pancake breakfast. Did I miss Palmyra? Well, yes, but my Dad and sons made the trip without me, keeping the tradition alive. Where will I go next year? I’m not sure but did I tell you about the radishes at Palmyra?