• Recognizing Makers of Aviation History

    Posted on January 11th, 2013 John Dorcey 1 comment

    The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame’s (WAHF’s) mission includes recognizing individuals who have made Wisconsin aviation history. Every fall since 1986 the organization has conducted an induction ceremony as part of that recognition. So far WAHF has saluted the accomplishments of 112 individuals. Questions as to who can place names into consideration, how inductees are selected and the schedule of the process are often asked. The following will answer those questions and more.

    2012 WAHF inductees joined by past inductees

    2012 inductees joined by past inductees

    Making a nomination
    Only current WAHF members may nominate an individual for inclusion into the hall of fame. Nomination packages are accepted any time throughout the year. Nomination guidelines and a cover sheet for the nomination package are available on the WAHF website. Nominations should include as much pertinent data as is available. A more complete and detailed nomination package results in a more accurate scoring of the nominee. Photos, news clippings, videos and additional letters of support are all part of a comprehensive nomination. Nominations received before December 1 will be considered during the year it was received.

    A committee of WAHF member/supporters meet annually in December to consider nominations. Only information contained in the nomination package is considered. The committee uses a selection matrix that has been developed over the years. Using the matrix the committee is able to provide consistent, objective consideration of each nomination package. Additional information may be submitted to a nomination at any time. Once accepted, all nomination packages are retained and considered annually.

    The selection committee presents its list of inductees to the organization’s board during their January meeting. Following acceptance by the board and notification of the inductees, planning for the annual ceremony begins.

    Induction ceremony
    The ceremony is typically held in October of each year. Afternoon events include WAHF’s annual membership meeting, a meeting of the board of directors, and self-guided tours of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Museum. The evening’s ceremony begins with a social hour and silent auction fundraiser. Funds from which are used in educational outreach programs conducted by WAHF. Dinner is followed by the induction ceremony and program. Inductee introductions include a multimedia presentation.

    Induction ceremony dinner

    Induction ceremony dinner

    The 2013 inductees will be announced in a few weeks. More than 25 nomination packages await further consideration. They will be joined by new nominations between now and December 1. Who has made a difference in Wisconsin aviation history? Who among those folks will you nominate for induction into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame? We encourage you to begin the nomination process for that person today. The inductee pages on the WAHF website are a great place to begin.

  • Gallatins, Corbens and Baby Aces

    Posted on January 3rd, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    After publishing its first book, Forward in Flight, the History of Aviation in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) had a dilemma. Like many of us, the organization found it had too much stuff. That is, too much history to fit into one book. The solution was straight forward, publish an annual newsletter and share more of Wisconsin’s aviation history. While searching for early documents of the organization we became reacquainted with the five issues of Forward in Flight, the Newsletter of Aviation History in Wisconsin. Michael Goc wrote the following story for the Fall 2001 issue of the newsletter.

    Gallatin brothers Baby Ace under construction

    Gallatin brothers Baby Ace under construction

    Oscar and Harold Gallatin were students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in 1930 when the decided to build an airplane. They obtained plans for a Corben Baby Ace along with a set of landing gear struts from the factory in Madison and, according to Corben’s instructions, modified a Model A Ford motor to power their plane. With no workshop of their own, the young men used a shop at MSOE and the basement of the Sommerfield Methodist Church on North Case Street as assembly points. The Methodist pastor had decided that home-building was an act of love not labor, so the Galatian’s were not violating the Sabbath when they kept at it on Sunday afternoons and evenings. As a bonus, the boys could partake of the weekly Sunday dinner prepared by the ladies of the Epworth League, “at low cost.”


    After completing the tube framing and fabric covering, the Gallatins moved their Baby Ace to a hay loft on North Marshall Street to mount the wings and install the motor. When they completed assembling the plane, the brothers wanted to fire up the engine, but had no gasoline. Harold stuck the tip of the acetylene welder in the carburetor intake, Oscar propped the motor, “and it started on the second pull.” The brothers started flying the plane in 1932 at the Waukesha Airport. Harold later recalled that it was “the first and last Baby Ace built in Milwaukee until the EAA began in 1951.”


    The Gallatins built at least three airplanes in the 1930s and 40s, including an original design logically called the Gallatin. The low-wing, single-place, monoplane was powered by a two-cylinder Aeronca engine. On a test flight out of Waukesha, a wind spar bracket failed, and Oscar died when the plane crashed.


    Waukesha Airport, ca 1934

    Waukesha Airport, ca 1934

    After World War II Harold had a hangar where he kept building airplanes and became known for his use of the Wankel engine. He hung onto the plans for his 1930s Baby Ace and, a few years before the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) was organized, shared them with EAA founder Paul Poberezny. His well-publicized adaptation of the Corben Super Ace gave Poberezny and the EAA a boost in its early days. Gallatin himself signed on as EAA #20, an appropriate gesture for the man known as the “father of homebuilding in Milwaukee.”

    Source materials for this story include materials from the WAHF archives and the Harold Gallatin papers.

    Harold Gallatin served on EAA’s board of directors for three years. He died in Waukesha, Wisconsin on November 28, 2002. On hearing of his passing EAA President Tom Poberezny said, “Harold was a true representative of the grassroots aspect of the organization, he was there back in the beginning.”


  • Air Racer from Wisconsin Rapids

    Posted on November 24th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    One of the missions of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) is to share the stories of Wisconsin’s aviators. Ideas for these stories come from attendees of WAHF presentations, continuing research by WAHF members, archival donations, and sometimes reading a book. This is a case of the latter. I was paging through Forward in Flight, the history of aviation in Wisconsin and discovered a one-page article on the Wisconsin Ninety-Nines. While the article provided a general history of the Wisconsin chapter, it was the air racing theme that caught my attention. One paragraph named some of the state’s air race pilots including Lois Truchinski.

    “Over the years many other Wisconsin women participated in AWTAR,
    including Anne Roethke and Dorothy Parks of Madison,
    Lois Truchinski of Wisconsin Rapids and Dora Fritzke of Milwaukee…”

    excerpted from Forward in Flight, the history of aviation in Wisconsin

    Lois Truchinski (left) with copilot Pat Weir

    Lois Truchinski (left) with copilot Pat Weir

    Lois is from Wisconsin Rapids, my wife’s hometown. We were already in town for a wedding, and I was able to spend a little time researching files at the McMillan Memorial Library. After collecting some basic information about Lois, I contacted her and scheduled an interview for a few days later. We spent a delightful three hours with Lois as she described her life in aviation. Her life story, like most, is filled with opportunities and successes, challenges and failures, laughter and tears. It was the cross-country air racing that had piqued my interest and it is about that part of her story I remain most fascinated.

    Women pilots have competed in various air races since the 1929 transcontinental Women’s Air Derby. The annual race continued for 10 years until interrupted by World War II. The Ninety-Nines took a leadership role in the post-war races, which began in 1947. The race changed its name to the All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR) while embracing the Will Rogers’ “Powder Puff Derby” name as well. After 31 years and 30 races, the AWTAR ended with its last running in 1977. A race-minded group found financial-backing and the replacement Air Race Classic began with its first race in 1977. Eventually, funding through development of a non-profit organization brought a sense of longevity to the race, which continues today.

    1978 Angel Derby program cover

    1978 Angel Derby program cover

    Races are typically flown by two pilots who must meet minimum experience and certification requirements. The aircraft are also restricted in horsepower and equipment. Each airplane has a safety and compliance inspection prior to race departure.

    Lois raced four races, more transcontinental air races than any other Wisconsin pilot. She competed in the 1977 and 1978 Angel Derby – an international flight beginning in the United States and ending in Freeport, Bahamas. In 1979 and 1980, Lois and her copilot competed in the Air Race Classic. WAHF member/supporters can read the entire Lois Truchinski story in the upcoming Winter 2012 issue of Forward in Flight, our membership magazine. Becoming a WAHF member/supporter is easy and inexpensive, simply follow this link.

    Thank you to Susan Royce who provided the 1978 Angel Derby program cover and other race details.

  • North Central Airlines – who knew there were two of them?

    Posted on October 14th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    Wisconsin Central Airlines, a former division of Four Wheel Drive Company located in Clintonville, Wisconsin, would in 1952, change its name to North Central Airlines. But before that, six years before, a different North Central Airlines took off from Stevens Point. Who knew there were two North Central Airlines?

    The City of Stevens Point broke ground on its new airport September 12, 1941. After overcoming several challenges, the airport development project was completed and the airport was opened September 20, 1942. Several weeks prior to the airport’s opening, Albert E. Padags was hired to be the city’s first airport manager. Padags came to Stevens Point from Wisconsin Rapids where he had served in the same capacity. Padags also moved his aviation business, Padags Flying Service, to Stevens Point.

    A. E. Padags

    Albert E. Padags, General Manager
    North Central Airlines

    Aviation was soon booming at the new airport. Central State College (UW-Stevens Point) was approved as a Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) school in February, 1942. Due to the CPT contract, Padags Flying Service had nine flight instructors, in addition to Albert, on the payroll. The company also employed two secretaries and a single mechanic. Ten additional T-hangars were constructed on the airport in September, 1943.

    Aviation’s boom continued as the war ended and airline travel expanded. Four airlines approached the city of Stevens Point. Northwest Airlines was first with plans for a Milwaukee hub and service to Stevens Point. Other potential service providers were Duluth Airlines, Great Continent Air Service, and a local carrier. A.E. Padags envisioned an intrastate carrier based at Stevens Point. He named himself general manager, he called the new carrier North Central Airlines, the Indian Trail Route and then he acquired a Douglas DC-3.

    Route and schedule plans called for a morning departure from Wausau to Madison via Stevens Point, then continuing on to Milwaukee. An afternoon departure out of Milwaukee would head north to Sturgeon Bay, continue on to Land O’Lakes, and then return to Wausau. This was certainly an aggressive route structure with a seemingly oversized aircraft.

    Two public relations flights were made in late May, 1946. The first was a five-hour scenic trip over north and northeast Wisconsin. The second flight took 13 Stevens Point dignitaries to Milwaukee where they lunched with John Bohn, Milwaukee’s mayor, and Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lawrence Timmerman.

    The local airline never did carry a paying passenger. The airline and its North Central Airlines name went away for unknown reasons. Wisconsin Central Airlines provided airline service to Stevens Point beginning in 1948. It would, after relocating to Minneapolis in 1952, change its name to North Central Airlines, the Route of the Northliners. Just as A. E. Padags had envisioned, North Central Airlines would serve Stevens Point with DC-3s, except, it was the second North Central Airlines that provided the service.

  • Lawson Demo Flight Departed 93 Years Ago

    Posted on August 27th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    The following article was originally printed in the Fall 2007 issue of Forward in Flight magazine. The magazine is published quarterly by the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF). Membership in the organization including magazine subscription is available for $20 annually. Alfred Lawson was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame on October 24, 1992.

    Alfred Lawson

    Alfred Lawson

    It was August 27, 1919 when Alfred Lawson, assisted by a crew of four, departed the New Butler, Wisconsin, flying field in his airliner. This was the second flight of the “House on Wings.” Their destination was Ashburn Field in Chicago. The 100-mile trip would become the first leg of a demonstration tour lasting more than two months. Lawson wrote of the journey in the publication, A Two Thousand Mile Trip in the First Airliner. The 12-page journal includes images taken during the trip and other posed publicity photos.In addition to Lawson, the crew consisted of Charles Cox, assistant pilot; Vincent Buranelli, Lawson factory superintendent; Carl Schory, engine mechanic and Andrew Surini, mechanic. Lawson explained his plans for the flight crew, “I had decided that I would act as captain and navigator of the airliner and that my assistant would do most of the steering…”

    Lawson was secretive about his plans for the trip, even keeping the crew in the dark. “Even the crew did not know that I intended to take the airliner to Chicago and Andrew Surini arrived there in his shirt sleeves and overalls while Carl Schory had left most of his raiment in his automobile, which remained standing upon the flying field at Milwaukee.”

    The trip would resume on Sunday morning, August 31, 1919. Lawson continues his report, “After spending a day or two in Chicago, inspecting the different fittings of the airliner …I decided to make a two hundred and fifty mile flight from Chicago to Toledo.” In addition to the crew, three Chicago newspaper reporters and Ralph Diggins were passengers on this leg. Diggins was a well-known aviator of the day and owned Checkerboard Field.

    1919 Lawson Airline

    Exterior view of the 1919 Lawson Airline

    The crew and passengers would rest overnight in Toledo and continue their odyssey on Monday, September 1. The passenger list changed somewhat. Ralph Diggins would return to Chicago, while two additional newspaper reporters joined the history-making flight. The airliner departed Toledo at 5:30 PM, Lawson described their arrival at Cleveland, “It was 6:50 o’clock P.M. when we landed, and although daylight was disappearing, a monster crowd was at the flying field to cheer us. The people there looked with surprise and pleasure at the mammoth visitor from Milwaukee.”Lawson would spend two days with Glenn Martin at Martin’s facilities in Cleveland. While there, the aircraft was inspected for the next leg of the journey. Alfred spoke very highly of Martin and his employees. After spending time in Cleveland, Lawson made some changes to the passenger list before departing for Buffalo. The two Toledo reporters left the flight while adding three Cleveland reporters. The total number of people aboard had reached eleven. Lawson described this portion of the trip for us. “Nothing of any importance took place in the trip from Cleveland to Buffalo to warrant special mention; the weather was good and the airliner flew along with hardly a movement of any kind.

    The flight departed Buffalo for Syracuse on September 4 and is notable for three facts. First, and possibly foremost in Alfred’s view, a woman joined the group of passengers. Second, the opportunity to race a New York Central train ended with the airliner winning handily. Third, the flight ended poorly. Lawson described it thus: “It looked like we would come out of a bad landing all right when, just before coming to a standstill, we ran into a ditch and the airliner went up onto its nose and remained in that position, with its tail sticking up at an angle of about 45 degrees.”

    The aircraft damage, while minor in nature according to Lawson, caused a week’s delay in the flight. Lawson picks up his tale, “On September 13th, with nine people aboard, we left Syracuse at 7:50 o’clock A.M. and arrived at Mitchell Field, Long Island, New York, at 10:33 A.M., making a remarkable run of 313 miles in 2 hours and 43 minutes.”

    Lawson and crew would spend six days in New York. While there, Lawson invited each newspaper to send a representative “to take a joy ride in it.” On September 15, Lawson took five reporters, a motion picture operator, two photographers and several aviation experts on a 30-minute flight. Among the passengers was Augustus Post who was serving as Secretary of the Aero Club of America. According to Lawson, “Thousands of people went out to Mitchell Field to look at the airliner, and among them some prominent aircraft men who manifested great delight at the sight of the air monster and its surprising performance.”

    The journey continued on September 19, when the crew of five took off bound for Bolling Field, Washington DC. Lawson described the flight, “The weather was hazy and cloudy, but as the land and water marks along the route were good, I found no difficulty in keeping the airliner in a true course, but it kept both Cox and me busy dodging in and around clouds between Baltimore and Washington.” There were nine passengers on this leg including Flying magazine editor Evan J. David.

    In his journal Lawson told of the many dignitaries he met with while in Washington. He said, “I believe I shook hands with all the United States Senators in Washington at that time, one of whom, Senator Warren G. Harding, afterwards was elected President of the United States.” He continued, “I was introduced to so many prominent men in Washington during the few days that the airliner remained there that it would be out of the question to name them all…”

    The flight would continue on September 25 when it departed Washington for Dayton, Ohio. This leg would prove to be disastrous for Lawson, his crew, and passengers. Lawson explained, “Everything went smoothly until we got beyond Cumberland and then we struck some of the roughest weather I have ever experienced. We let the airliner climb up to 17,000 feet, trying to find better conditions, but it was just as rough at that altitude as at a lower one. We could have climbed much higher but as the gas supply was diminishing and as I knew that in that headwind we could never reach Dayton without refueling, I decided to land at a farm near Collinsville, where Cox said he thought he saw a good field. But on trying to make the field aimed at, the airliner was struck by a top wind of tremendous force, which brought us to the earth suddenly in an adjoining cornfield…”

    The aircraft was only damaged slightly but the landing field and all nearby were unsuitable for a safe takeoff. Lawson elected to dismantle the airliner and ship it to Dayton. It would be nearly a month before the airliner was again airworthy. On Friday, October 24, the trip continued again with Indianapolis its next destination.

    Interior view of the 1919 Lawson Airline

    Interior view of the 1919 Lawson Airline

    Weather delayed the planned departure for Chicago until November 6. Lawson described this leg, “The weather was foggy and it was a good thing that I was familiar with the topography of Chicago or we may never have reached Ashburn Field, for we were almost over Lake Michigan before it became visible.”Lawson recorded, “It was zero weather the day we flew from Chicago to Milwaukee, but the 15 passengers didn’t seem to mind it at all as we journeyed along above and to the left of Lake Michigan at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Most of the passengers kept themselves warm by walking up and down the aisles as I had not installed the heating apparatus in the first airliner that I put into the second one.”

    The last lines of the journal reported, “We were met at the field by a large crowd of enthusiastic people and thus ended safely the 2,000 mile demonstration trip of the first airliner.” We do not know when Lawson wrote, A Two Thousand Mile Trip in the First Airliner. We do know that Lawson wrote the journal as part travelogue, part flight report and part marketing commentary. This long flight of his airliner displayed to the country, and the world, Lawson’s greatest aviation achievement.

  • Pietenpol Reunion

    Posted on July 21st, 2012 John Dorcey No comments
    Airplane ride in a Piet

    Airplane ride in a Piet

    Pietenpol fans from across the nation flocked to Brodhead, Wisconsin, this weekend for their 37th Annual Reunion. The 4-day event began Thursday, July 19. Today’s activities included forums, educational discussions among builder/pilots, airplane rides, and later a homestyle dinner. The reunion is hosted by EAA Chapter 431 while the Brodhead Pietenpol Association (BPA) produces the event. The Pietenpol Air Camper is more popular today than any time in its 83-year history. We saw 14 examples of the design while we toured the airport today. Several others were flying low and slow over the Wisconsin countryside. Bernard Pietenpol would have been happy with the setting and the gathering.

    Impromptu discussions abound

    Impromptu discussions abound

    The reunion is more like aviation gatherings of times past. Everything moves at a slower pace. There are no loud speakers, no Gators to evade, and nature provides the only wildlife. Impromptu discussions abound with topics as varied as those attending. Participants pull up a lawn chair under a shade tree and join in as appropriate. Food service provides good food at reasonable prices. It is easy to understand why both the airport’s auto parking lot and camping area were full.

    If you are interested in learning more about the Pietentpol Air Camper or would like to experience aviation the way it used to be put the 2013 Pietenpol Reunion on your calendar. It is planned for the weekend before EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

  • New Aviation Organization

    Posted on June 24th, 2012 John Dorcey 1 comment

    LtCol Steve Watkins of the Wisconsin Army National Guard attended a conference a while back where the presentation of an iBOT mobility system to a wounded Army veteran struck a chord. Returning to Wisconsin, he shared his idea of forming a chapter of the organization that made that presentation possible. He talked with others and soon the idea of forming a local chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America  (AAAA) had taken hold.

    Yesterday, Saturday, June 23, that idea became a reality. The newest chapter of AAAA, the Badger Chapter, was officially formed at an event held in Madison, Wisconsin. The business meeting included election of officers and adoption of the chapter’s name. The new chapter is unique among the organization’s 72 chapters located in 37 states and 4 overseas locations. Termed a “virtual chapter”, the Badger group will hold its meetings throughout Wisconsin and will broadcast meetings live over the Internet. AAAA was formed in 1957 and today has over 18,000 members.

    LTG Daniel Petrosky (Ret)

    The business meeting’s opening remarks were provided by LTG Daniel Petrosky (Ret) current president of AAAA. Petrosky’s 36-year Army career included assignments as Commanding General of the US Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker; Chief of Staff, US European Command; and Commander, Eighth US Army in Korea. General Petrosky explained the organization’s mission – to support the United States Army Aviation soldier and family – and shared some of the methods used to accomplish that mission. He told how AAAA sponsors, funds, and administers the Army Aviation Hall of Fame and other recognition awards and how it supports Army Aviation and local AAAA chapters. The organization began a scholarship program in 1963 and has provided over $4.5 million dollars to date. They are justifiably proud of the fact that 100% of donated funds are used for scholarships.

    The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame’s John Dorcey provided a presentation on Wisconsin aviation history. That presentation was followed by chapter officer induction. Officers of the Badger Chapter include LTC Stephen E. Watkins, President; LTC Martin J. Pond, Senior Vice President;  MAJ Matthew J. Strub, Vice President of Legislative Affairs; MAJ Max Brosig, Vice President of Awards Programs; CW2 Jason William Burke, Vice President of Programs; CW4 Brad Stepp, Treasurer; and 1LT Joshua Allan Felber, Secretary.

    Saint Michael medal

    Awards were then presented by AAAA President Petrosky and Badger Chapter President Steve Watkins. Established in 1990 the Order of Saint Michael recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Aviation in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates, and peers. Receiving The Order of Saint Michael Awards were CW4 Brad Stepp, SSG (Ret) David Hosking, and SSG (Ret) Roger D. Johnson.

    Lady of Loreto medal

    Established in 2004 the Order of Our Lady of Loreto recognizes individuals who are worthy of special recognition for outstanding support to the Army Aviation Family and Army Aviation Community. According to tradition, the home in which the Virgin Mary was born was miraculously moved by angels in 1295 from its original site in Nazareth to its present site in Loreto, Italy. Since 1920 Our Lady of Loreto has been recognized as the patron saint of aviators. This award celebrates the sacrifice, support, security, and caring provided by those at home and in the larger Army Aviation Community that make it possible for Army Aviation soldiers to accomplish their missions despite changes in circumstances, location, and separation from loved ones. Recipients of the Lady of Loreto Award were Mrs. Angela Becker-Bradley and Mrs. Michelle Dahlie.

    Membership in the Badger Chapter/AAAA is open to anyone desiring to support Army Aviation. Visit the organization’s membership area of their website for details on benefits and application materials. Every facet of aviation is under pressure from various quarters. Fewer aviators and fewer aviation supporters create a tough environment in which to fly. It is important, nay it is vital, to support aviation – all aviation – in any way possible. We encourage you to find like-minded aviation organizations and support them in any way you can.

  • 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.


  • Civil Air Patrol seeks Congressional Gold Medal

    Posted on April 9th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the most recent cosponsor of senate bill S.418. He signed the bill on March 26, 2012. So far five Wisconsin representatives have cosponsored the house version, H.R.719. The bills, if passed, will award the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II veterans of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Representative Bob Fisner (D-CA) introduced the bill on February 15, 2011. He has since been joined by 163 cosponsors. The Senate bill was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on February 28, 2011. Johnson brings the total senate cosponsors to 82.

    You might wonder what the Civil Air Patrol did to be considered for this prestigious award. The Coastal Patrol, as the CAP was originally known, was created by presidential executive order on December 1, 1941 as part of the Office of Civilian Defense. Antisubmarine operations using civilian volunteer pilots, flying their personal aircraft, began in March, 1942. The program lasted for 18 months. The civilian patrol experiment was an overwhelming success.

    During the 18 months of combat operations the Coastal Patrol sank two enemy submarines and attacked another 57. That success came with a cost. The Coastal Patrol lost 90 aircraft at sea, 26 crew members were killed, and seven were seriously injured. Fairchild Model 24s and Stinson 10As were two of the more common aircraft used but many other types were pressed into service. As the program developed, aircraft were armed with 50 and 100-pound bombs and 325-pound depth charges. The program began operations from three bases eventually growing to 21 facilities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

    WAHF inductee Logan A. “Jack” Vilas was active in the Coastal Patrol and founded an unofficial club for Coastal Patrol personnel. Coastal Patrol pilots who, during a mission, made a forced landing on the water were made members of the Duck Club. By the end of the 18 month program, 114 pilots survived a forced water landing. Pilots from 16 of the 21 Coastal Patrol bases were club members.

    The Coastal Patrol flew other than antisubmarine missions – target towing, search and rescue, border patrol, disaster relief, and emergency transport. During the war 60,000 adult members had volunteered to serve their country through the Coastal Patrol. A total of 824 Air Medals were awarded by executive order of the president for service as flight crew on antisubmarine missions for the Coastal Patrol. By the end of the conflict nearly 750,000 flight hours had been logged, while 150 aircraft were lost, and 64 members killed. Like the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) these aviators had been promised veteran’s benefits. Benefits never materialized for either group. The WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010.

    You can assist the CAP Congressional Gold Medal recognition effort in two ways. First, contact your senator and representative and ask them to support S.418 or H.R.719. Second, help locate CAP veterans. If you, or someone you know, served in the CAP between December 7, 1941 and August 15, 1945 and was 18 years old, or older, during that time you or they will be eligible for the award. Upload their information into the World War II Congressional Gold Medal database, or send it to Holley Dunigan.

    FMI: http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/guarding.html

  • History comes alive

    Posted on March 31st, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    There are many opportuntities for you to experience Wisconsin’s history come alive this spring. The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame will be participating in some of these events and attending others. We hope to see you there.

    West Allis Historical Society

    April 16
    History of Mitchell International Airport
    West Allis Historical Society
    West Allis
    The West Allis Historical Society will host a presentation by long-time Mitchell Gallery of Flight director Chuck Boie. Boie, a retired corporate illustrator from Milwaukee, is an expert on the airport’s history. The Mitchell Gallery of Flight is a museum located within the airport’s terminal. The presentation includes numerous images, many of which are not available elsewhere.

    The West Allis Historical Society is located at 8405 West National Avenue.  The program begins at 7 p.m. is free and open to the public.


    May 3
    Wisconsin Veterans Museum (WVM) Gala
    Monona Terrace
    The Wisconsin Veterans Museum’s (WVM) Foundation will hold its annual fund raiser on Thursday, May 3. The event, held at the Monona Terrace, will include a reception, dinner, and booksigning. The evening’s keynote address features historian and writer Hugh Ambrose. Ambrose, author of The Pacific, served as historical consultant for the HBO miniseries of the the same name. Ambrose will share his journey in writing the book and work on the video series.

    Tickets are available online or by phone at 608-264-6086. All proceeds from the event support the development of educational programs and exhibits at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.


    May 4
    Operation Greatest Generation
    Railroad Museum
    Green Bay
    A day-long celebration and recognition for the Wisconsin men and women who shaped the course of history during World War II. Actvities include WWII vehicle exhibit, WWII re-enactors, tours of General Eisenhower’s European command train, and the 132nd Army Band. Featured guest speakers include Hugh Ambrose, author of The Pacific, and James Magellas, WWII veteran and author of All the Way to Berlin.

    Operation Greatest Generation runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to all veterans, their guests and the public. The National Railroad Museum is located at 2285 South Broadway in Green Bay. An RSVP is strongly encouraged. For more information and to RSVP, visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum website or call 608-266-1009. Additonal information and directions to the National Railroad Museum are avilable at their website.


    2012 Wisconsin Aviation Conference logoMay 7-9
    Wisconsin Aviation Conference
    Chula Vista Resort
    Wisconsin Dells
    The 57th annual conference, the one conference where all of Wisconsin aviation meets, is scheduled for May 7-9. There will be 12 educational sessions including the following topics: NextGen, marketing techniques, attracting and retaining FBOs, aviation insurance, and airport economic impact statements. Beyond the educational opportunities, there will be association meetings, award ceremonies, and networking opportunities.

    The conference is sponsored by the Wisconsin Airport Management Association, Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association, Wisconsin Business Aviation Association, aviation consultants and suppliers. The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame is one of more than 40 exhibitors. Additional information is available at www.wiama.org or by calling 715-358-2802.