• Lt. Bong, meet the Lockheed P-38

    Posted on May 12th, 2014 John Dorcey No comments
    Hamilton AAF main gate

    Hamilton AAF main gate
    Photo courtesy the California State Military Museum

    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.

    Dear Mom:
    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.

    Lockheed C-40, image courtesy National Museum of the USAF

    Lockheed C-40
    Image courtesy National Museum of the USAF

    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:


    Dear Mom:
    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.

    70th Anniverssary MOH logo

  • Opportunities for Flying and Hangar Flying Abound

    Posted on April 4th, 2014 John Dorcey 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
    Wisconsin Aviation Conference 2014 logoThe 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 ThomasTom 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.

  • Scholarship Program Grows Again; Applications Due Soon

    Posted on February 7th, 2014 John Dorcey 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.

    2012 WAHF Scholarship Recipients

    2012 WAHF Scholarship Recipients

    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.

    2013 Scholarship Recipients Heather Behrent and Rich Conrad

    2013 Scholarship Recipients Heather Behrent and Rich Conrad

    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, sue@cfoncw.org or 715-845-9555.

  • 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.