• Rare Air

    Posted on June 2nd, 2012 John Dorcey 1 comment

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, a recognition award for pilots, in 2003. The award recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill, and expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 years or more. It’s an appropriate title as it was established in the centennial year after the Wright brothers accomplishment of controlled heavier than air flight. In the nearly 10 years since, 38 Wisconsin pilots have been presented the award.

    A similar award for aircraft mechanics, the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, was developed in 2008 to recognize the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics. Since its inception, 22 Wisconsin mechanics have received the award. Charles Taylor was the Wright brothers’ mechanic and is often referred to as the third Wright brother.

    FAA rep Wes Hakari (left) presents award to Lee Perrizo

    It is rare when an aviator is recognized with both awards. Yesterday, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, that is exactly what happened when Lee F. Perrizo was presented with both the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award. Nearly 100 family, friends, and former co-workers joined Lee for the presentation at the Fond du Lac Skyport terminal. Michael Monroe and Wes Hakari, FAA representatives from the Milwaukee Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), made the formal award presentations. Jim Szajkovics, retired FAA Aviation Safety Inspector, shared humorous anecdotes of his interactions with Perrizo.

    Lee was his typical humble self in accepting the awards. He acknowledged the help and support of his wife, Cookie, their family, his employees, and customers. An ice cream social followed the presentation.

     

  • 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

  • Air race pilot Bill Brenannd profiled in new book

    Posted on November 30th, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    You’re in Cleveland, it is the end of August, 1947. You’re a 23-year old pilot from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. You’re competing in your first air race, in a borrowed airplane. Not just any race mind you, you are competing in the Goodyear Trophy Race. You are competing against some of the biggest names in aviation. Herman “Fish” Salmon is to your right, a little farther away is Tony LeVier. These Lockheed test pilots are flying aircraft designed and built by their co-workers.

    cover of book Bill Brennand: Air Racing and Other Aerial Adventures

    Cover of Bill Brennand book

    The white flag goes up and you along with the others start your engines. A green flag replaces the white one, just one minute to go. You ease the throttle forward and the engine responds, the aircraft strains against the brakes. Your ground crew, battling the wind behind the prop, hangs on to your tail, adding their effort to hold the airplane back. The flag drops, the crew releases their grip, and the race is on. Rounding the first pylon you are in the lead. You’ll maintain the lead for the entire race. You win, you win the race!

    Bill Brennand grew up on the family farm conveniently located next to the Oshkosh Airport. Like a lot of kids of the era he built stick and tissue model airplanes. A cold day in March, 1943, accompanied by several friends, Bill walked into the flight school operated by Steve Wittman. His life was about to change forever. The Brennand family still operates the farm adjacent to Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH). Bill still visits the airport. While his gait may have slowed, his eyes still sparkle when sharing highlights of his life story.

    Today Bill shares that story – he calls them aerial adventures – with you in the book, Bill Brennand: Air Racing and Other Aerial Adventures. Bill talks about his time with Steve Wittman, life as a corporate pilot, and his airport west of Neenah. You’ll learn about his 5-year restoration project of a Stinson tri-motor, his many fishing trips to Canada, and expeditions to Mexico and Central America. Finally, you’ll learn about Bill’s development of a swampy area along Lake Winnebago that became a seaplane base – you know it as the EAA AirVenture Seaplane Base.

    Bill told his story to writer Jim Cunningham. Jim captured both Bill’s words and his passion. Jim says, “This story is Bill’s, and he has called things as he’s seen them.” Order your copy by using this order form. You can visit the publisher, Airship International Press, at their web site or call Dave Smith at 309-827-8039.

  • November is Aviation History Month

    Posted on November 9th, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Jacques, experimented with filling paper and fabric bags with smoke and hot air during November, 1782. Their experiments continued, the balloons got bigger, and on June 4, 1783 they gave their first public demonstration. Their 28,000 cubic foot balloon, weighing about 500 pounds, lifted off from Annonay, France. The 10-minute flight covered a little over a mile. Jacques would be the first human to go aloft in a hot air balloon on October 15, 1783. The Montgolfier’s earliest experiments are recognized as the birth of aviation and are the reason we celebrate Aviation History Month in November. I want to share two stories with you today. One is an old story that is new to me, the other a more recent one.

    Hugh Robinson biography

    The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame has shared stories of Wisconsin’s First Great Year of Flight this fall. The year 1911 saw nine different aviators demonstrate various airplanes in 13 cities throughout the state. One of those pilots was Hugh Robinson. Robinson’s early background was very similar to many of aviation’s pioneers. He was mechanically inclined, owned a bicycle shop, designed and built engines and automobiles, and finally in 1907, built and flew a dirigible. The next year, while working as a chauffeur in Europe, he witnessed an aerial demonstration by Wilbur Wright.

    Upon returning home to St. Louis, Robinson designed and built a monoplane that he exhibited at the 1909 St. Louis Centennial Exhibition. He met Glenn Curtiss while there, they became fast friends, and before leaving Curtiss had offered Hugh a job. Robinson was a Curtiss exhibition pilot when he visited Wisconsin. He made stops in La Crosse and Prairie du Chein during the fall of 1911. Curtiss and Robinson collaborated on various projects until Curtiss’ death in 1930. Robinson died in 1963. Serious students of aviation history will want to read the book, Hugh Robinson, Pioneer Aviator, written by George L. Vergara.

    Lance Sijan story

    A native of Bay View, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburb, Lance Sijan was a star athlete during high school. He graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1965. Completing flight training, he was assigned to the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron/366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang AFB, Vietnam. Visiting Bangkok, Thailand, during R&R, Sijan returned to Da Nang in early November. His first mission back was 44 years ago today – November 9, 1967. He would not return.

    The story of Sijan’s fateful mission, the attempted rescue, his 46-day survival on the jungle floor, his capture and ultimate death in the Hanoi Hilton is one that every American should know. Sijan is known by his peers as a hero. He was a 26-year-old midwestern boy next door. He was doing his duty. He died, living the military code of conduct. I don’t have many heroes, but Lance Peter Sijan is one of them. Learn more about Sijan and his story in the book, Into the Mouth of the Cat, by Malcolm McConnell.

  • The Airplane Comes to La Crosse

    Posted on October 15th, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) and La Crosse County Historical Society will present “The Airplane Comes to La Crosse” on Sunday afternoon, October 30 at 2:00 p.m. The presentation will be in the main auditorium of the La Crosse Public Library, 8th and Main Streets.

    Hugh Robinson, Pioneer Pilot

    Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame board member Frederick Beseler will present a slide show detailing the flight of pioneer aviator Hugh Robinson. In October 1911,  Robinson took off from Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis on a quest to fly down the Mississippi River to New Orleans to collect a $20,000 prize.

    Along the way, Robinson stopped in La Crosse – the first time a powered aircraft visited the city. Robinson was a close associate of and demonstration pilot for famous motorcycle racer and airplane designer Glenn Curtiss. Beseler’s presentation will also describe Curtiss’ and Robinson’s many aviation accomplishments and the state of aviation technology in 1911.

    Hugh Robinson at La Crosse WI, 1911

    2011 marks the centennial anniversary of powered flight for thirteen Wisconsin cities. The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame is sponsoring a number of events in celebraton of the Centennial of Wisconsin’s First Great Year of Flight.

    The October 30 event is free and open to the public.

  • Milwaukee’s First Airport

    Posted on February 16th, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    This story could be from anywhere and anytime during our nearly 110-year aviation history. The mayor had decided that it was time for a new airport. The only question remaining was where to locate the facility. The mayor asked seven local businessmen, each with an interest in aviation, to meet in his office on Tuesday. A five-man committee resulted from that meeting. The committee’s charge was to investigate potential airport sites and secure the needed property.

    The meeting could have occurred anywhere and anytime. In this case, it was Milwaukee in 1919. Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Hoan held the meeting on April 29, 1919. Members of the airport site committee included W. E. McCarty, Milwaukee County Board, chairman; F. A. Vaughn, president Wisconsin Aero Club;  August H. Vogel, War Industries Board; Charles B. Whitnall, Milwaukee County Park Board; and Alfred W. Lawson, Lawson Aircraft Company.

    Historical Marker at site of Butler Airport (Rose Dorcey photo)

    The committee wasted no time in getting to work touring several potential sites the very next day. The committee’s work ended with Butler Airport beginning operations on July 3, 1919. The airport would suffer from identity crises over its life. The facility was located on Lisbon Road near the Village of New Butler. It was called both Lisbon Field and Butler Airport. The airport, owned by Milwaukee County, would serve the area’s aviation needs for seven years.

    Change came about as a result of the airmail service that began on June 7, 1926. The airmail route, CAM 9, ran between Chicago and Minneapolis with stops in Milwaukee and La Crosse. Soon complaints came from several directions. The airfield was located too far from the city, some said, while pilots complained about obstructions surrounding the field. The airmail contractor, Charles Dickenson, threatened to discontinue service to Milwaukee unless the situation was improved. The outcry by area businesses and the press had a powerful effect; reaction by Milwaukee County was swift.

    On August 11, 1926, just two months after airmail service began, the County Board unanimously adopted a resolution that the County Highway Commission expend the funds necessary to either improve the existing airport or purchase a new airport site.

    Hamilton Metalplane, Milwaukee County Airport, ca 1930

    Thomas F. Hamilton owned a successful aircraft and propeller manufacturing business in Milwaukee. In 1920, Hamilton had purchased the Hirschbuehl farm located on Layton Avenue on the city’s south side. He located his business there and built an airport on the site that would serve both his business and its customers.

    The Hamilton facility would top the list of potential sites according to an August 13, 1926 Milwaukee Sentinel article, “Hamilton airfield, near Cudahy, was looked upon as one of the most desirable of available properties…”

    The Milwaukee County Board, on October 5, 1926, approved an appropriation of $150,000 and directed the County Park Commission to purchase and equip the Hamilton Airport. Milwaukee County Airport came into existance on October 29, 1926, when the transaction was completed. The Butler Airport site was abandoned and became Currie Park, a part of the Milwaukee County Park System.

    On March 17, 1941 the Milwaukee County Airport was renamed General Mitchell Airport in honor of General William “Billy” Mitchell, famous Milwaukee aviator. The airport’s name was changed one last time, on June 19, 1986, to General Mitchell International Airport.

  • Flying the Bridge Across Lake Michigan

    Posted on January 24th, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    Imagine flying an open-cockpit airplane across Lake Michigan. It is January 1933 and you fly the “Bridge Across Lake Michigan” route for Kohler Aviation Corporation. The company flies the route four times daily, 12 months a year. The airline has been flying passengers and express between Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, Michigan, since September 1, 1929.

    Maitland Field seaplane ramp, ca 1930

    The wind swirling into the cockpit is cold and brings with it rain, sleet, and snow. While the air is cold, the lake’s surface is even colder. You know, that if needed, rescue craft would be hours away as you study the wind-whipped surface of the lake. The waves increased in size a few miles back and now white caps are torn from their tops by the ever-present wind. You shrink down into your winter flying clothes attempting to find warmth, silently praying for an uneventful lake crossing.

    Company founder, John B. Kohler, has been unsuccessful in winning a lucrative air mail contract for the over-lake route and points east. Things are tough for everyone working for the fledging carrier.

    Not every Kohler flight across Lake Michigan was successfully completed. Newspaper accounts provide details of three failed flights.

    Aircraft recovery, Milwaukee Harbor, August 28, 1932

    Sunday, August 28, 1932
    James Benedict, pilot and Patrick Gossett, co-pilot
    The aircraft taxied out the seaplane ramp at Maitland Field, taxied across the harbor to the entrance and began its takeoff run just before 7:30 a.m. Witnesses report the airplane “hopped” three to six times during its attempt to takeoff. Reports the aircraft took off downwind were investigated by company president John Kohler. His report of no wind conflicted with weather bureau reports of a 12-knot wind at the time of the accident.

    Pilot James Benedict describes the takeoff, “We got up about 20-feet when the airplane seemed to enter a ‘dead air’ area and would not gather forward speed.” Benedict reported that the left pontoon was smashed as the airplane struck the water. Kohler reported that the aircraft suffered more damage while under tow than during the accident.

    A total of seven people were aboard the Loening C-2C Air Yacht, all employees of Kohler Aviation. Only one passenger was injured; Edmund Laskowski suffered a minor scalp wound.

    Saturday, March 4, 1933
    Pilot Roy E. Pickering and copilot Ben Craycroft
    The westbound flight was observed passing over Grand Haven, Michigan, at 10:09 a.m. bound for Milwaukee. When Milwaukee reported the aircraft was long overdue, another Kohler Aviation aircraft departed Grand Rapids, Michigan, and began search efforts.

    The incident aircraft had suffered a broken throttle rod and landed on the choppy lake surface at 10:20. The crew, alone in the airplane, was only 10-miles off the Michigan coast. A strong northeast wind carried the airplane to a point about 6-miles offshore from Wind Point Lighthouse in Racine County, Wisconsin. The cross-lake journey had lasted more than seven hours. Coast Guard crews from Milwaukee and Racine responded, finding the aircraft listing slightly due to taking on water.

    Thursday, December 28, 1933
    Pilot Pat Gossett and copilot Ben Craycraft
    The afternoon flight from Milwaukee taxied out at 3:10 and was airborne for about 30 minutes when, according to pilot Pat Gossett, “…the motor quit. I don’t know what happened, valve trouble I guess.”

    Gossett and his co-pilot Ben Craycraft told their harrowing story to a newspaper reporter. “We were flying about 200 feet up. There’s not much use making altitude over the lake. The ceiling was low. I turned into the wind and landed. We knew we were in for it. It was getting dark. We both knew the ship would float and that the company would be out looking for us.”

    The company did begin looking soon after the flight was reported overdue. Pilots Roy Pickering and Archie Leighton had just completed their westbound flight when they took off looking for their co-workers. They returned to Milwaukee after 7:00 p.m. without sighting the downed airplane. Several other aircraft were prepared to resume the search the next morning.

    Gossett continued, “Waves were rolling high. We were sitting in the cabin for about 5 hours when the right pontoon snapped off. Then the right wing cracked. The ship started to list and we had to get out on the left wing to balance it. We dragged the mail out after us and hung on.”

    Pilot Pat Gossett and co-pilot Ben Craycraft were seasoned aviators, both serving in the military.  “Way down deep, I thought we’d never see land again. The waves were hitting the plane hard. We could hear it rip and crack. I knew it wouldn’t be long before it went down,” said Gossett. He added, “Then we saw a light.”

    The light the wet, tired, and frigid crew saw was the Coast Guard cutter Escanaba. It was just before midnight when the Escanaba crew pulled Gossett and Craycraft aboard.  The pilots had been on the water for more than eight hours. Coast Guard crews from all along the Wisconsin and Michigan shores had been searching for the downed airmen since receiving the report at 5:30 p.m. The Escanaba had steamed more than 53 miles from its home port of Grand Haven, Michigan, during the search.

    Gossett, when asked if he would fly again, responded, “I was seasick, cold, and tired. Scared? Never, I will be flying again tomorrow.”

  • Bridge Across Lake Michigan

    Posted on January 2nd, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    Frank and John B. Kohler of Grand Rapids, Michigan, envisioning an aerial “Bridge across Lake Michigan” founded Kohler Aviation Corporation on August 30, 1929. Passenger and freight service between Milwaukee and Grand Rapids began the next day. Travel time between the cities (90 miles straight line distance) was reduced from 14 hours by rail to 1 hour and 10 minutes by air. One-way fare was $18; a round-trip ticket cost $30.

    Kohler Aviation, Loening C-2C, Milwaukee ca 1930

    The airline owned five Loening C-2C Air Yacht amphibian aircraft. The Air Yacht carried six passengers in an enclosed cabin while the pilot flew from an open (two-seat) cockpit. Powered by the Wright Cyclone (525-hp) the aircraft cruised at 102mph. The aircraft had a gross weight of 6,250 pounds, a range of 500 miles, and cruised at 102 mph. Loening built 23 examples of this model.

    Just three months later, during November 1929, Kohler Aviation sold their routes to Northwest Airways. Kohler, under contract with Northwest, continued to provide the scheduled air service. Kohler was awarded air mail route CAM 32, as a Northwest Airways subcontractor, between Milwaukee and Detroit on March 1, 1933. The first air mail was flown the next day, departing Milwaukee at 7:30 am, with an intermediate stop at Muskegon. Scheduled arrival time in Detroit was 11:25 am. The first schedule included four daily flights—two in each direction.

    Headquarters, Kohler Aviation, Grand Rapids MI ca 1930

    President Franklin Roosevelt cancelled all air mail routes on February 19, 1934 and turned the air mail over to the military. Tragic results and ballooning costs caused the government to reconsider. On May 8, 1934, President Roosevelt and Postmaster General James Farley reinstituted private carriage of the mail. It was too late for Kohler Aviation Corporation.

    Their bid for the new Detroit – Milwaukee route was denied by Postmaster Farley. Kohler Aviation had been used by former TWA President Richard Robbins as a test case. Robbins, who was forced out of TWA for his involvement in the Spoils Conference of 1930, convinced Kohler they would benefit from his involvement. Robbins was named Vice-President of Kohler Aviation. It was then that the carrier’s application for their own contract was denied by the Post Office. Robbins then resigned from Kohler.

    Kohler Aviation declared bankruptcy in May 1934, and their assets were acquired by Pennsylvania Airlines in June 1934. Pennsylvania Airlines would be renamed Capitol Airlines in 1948 and later still merged with United Airlines. There was no relationship between Kohler Aviation Corporation and the Kohler Corporation of Kohler, Wisconsin.

    Images courtesy of Eddie Coates.

  • National Aviation Day

    Posted on August 19th, 2010 John Dorcey No comments

    Long-time aviation advocate Jennings Randolph (D-WV) constantly pushed for programs to advance air travel and airport development. He sponsored the 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act. A year later, he spoke at the National Aviation Forum on February 20, 1939. His remarks, entitled Aviation and American Welfare included, “We must be alert to take every advantage of the air, to fill the heavens with pilots and with planes, to provide the factories and the technicians which we need, to inform our people of the myriad purposes which aeronautics may serve, to encourage them to use and to enjoy the benefits of flight.”

    Jennings convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to proclaim August 19 National Aviation Day. The date coincides with Orville Wright’s birthday. National Aviation Day – is a day where aviation is to be celebrated. Our National Aviation Day celebration includes recognizing those Wisconsin aviators who have been awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award or the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award.

    Selected for the Master Pilot Award are:
    William Bancroft, Poynette (05/2008) WAHF member/supporter
    Gerald Beekman, Oconto (01/2005)
    William Buettner, West Bend (09/2009)
    Donald Burritt, La Crosse (01/2006)
    Gene Chase, Oshkosh (03/2005)
    George Cudahy, Anthony NM (10/2009) WAHF inductee
    Daniel Donovan, Brookfield (08/2007) WAHF member/supporter
    Walter Embke, Marshfield (10/2009)
    Glenn Gauger, Delavan (04/2005)
    David Harmon, Greendale (02/2008)
    James Igou, West Bend (12/2007)
    Vilas Krueger, Clintonville (02/2009)
    David Lau, Oconomowoc (07/2008)
    Donald Mosher, Neenah (02/2009) WAHF member/supporter
    Wallace Partlow, Jr., Hayward (02/2008)
    Charles Pollard, Tomah (10/2005) WAHF member/supporter
    Roland Schable, Janesville (09/2006)
    William Stoeckmann, Rock Springs (04/2006)
    Wilmer Tews, Cascade (09/2006)
    Gunter Voltz, Milwaukee (02/2008) WAHF inductee
    William Wenkman, Wisconsin Dells (06/2005) WAHF member/supporter
    Richard Wixom, Janesville (09/2005) WAHF inductee

    Master Mechanic recipients include:
    Gerhard Buettner, Oshkosh (unknown)
    Robert Converse, Hager City (unknown)
    Dean Crites, Waukesha (unknown) WAHF inductee
    Walter Embke, Marshfield (10/2009)
    William Frisbie, Hortonville (unknown)
    Raymond Goss, West Bend (unknown)
    Eugene Hackbarth, Milwaukee (unknown)
    Bernard Harrington, Appleton (unknown)
    Frank Holbus, Greendale (unknown)
    James Igou, West Bend (unknown)
    Glen Krohn, Brookfield (unknown)
    Donald Mosher, Oshkosh (unknown) WAHF member/supporter
    Donald Nelson, Knapp (unknown)
    Edward Pietrzak, Greendale (unknown)
    Richard Porter, Franklin (unknown)
    Roy Reabe, Waupun (unknown) WAHF inductee
    Bruce Rintlemann, Milwaukee (unknown)
    Nick Quint, Janesville (4/2010)

    Congratulations to these gentlemen who serve as a foundation for aviation as we know it.