• They keep going and going

    Posted on February 5th, 2010 John Dorcey No comments

    Members of Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 60 Beloit/Janesville bring to mind the Energizer Bunny. They keep going and going and going. Yesterday, ten of them met at the Beloit Historical Society’s Lincoln Center to install a one-quarter scale model of the Warner-Curtiss aircraft. This effort is the culmination of more than 12 months of work and dedication to Wisconsin’s Centennial of Flight. A more accurate reference to these gentlemen is – they keep doing and doing and doing.

    Final adjustment BHS display

    Arthur Pratt Warner was already a successful engineer and businessman from Beloit, Wisconsin, when he attended the Auto Club of America’s 1906 event in New York. An aviation exhibit turned curiosity into passion. Warner became the first individual to buy an airplane and the sixth person to fly in this country in 1909. The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) sponsored the Wisconsin Centennial of Flight celebration. The celebration’s centerpiece was the quarter-scale model of Warner’s airplane constructed for WAHF by EAA Chapter 60.

    The centennial culminated in Beloit on November 4, 2009. The day’s events concluded with the model being placed into long-term loan with the Beloit Historical Society (BHS). The exhibit has been under construction since that time. WAHF representatives Tom Thomas and Wynne Williams were on hand to lend moral support to Chapter 60 members. A news crew from Janesville radio station WCLO (1230 AM) were also on hand and filed this report.

    Warner-Curtiss exhibit, BHS

    Review earlier blog posts to learn about the Warner-Curtiss model, the craftsmen who built it, some of the locations the centennial exhibit visited, and the concluding ceremony at Beloit’s Morgan Elementary School. Visit EAA Chapter 60’s website for their story on building the Warner-Curtiss model. Thanks guys! Your skills, dedication, and generosity know no bounds – you just keep on doing and doing.

  • Celebrating a Century of Flight in Wisconsin

    Posted on November 1st, 2009 John Dorcey 1 comment

    While firsts happen every day, becoming the first to fly an airplane in a state, while making your first solo on that same flight, is noteworthy. Being the first person to buy an airplane and the 11th person to fly in this country makes the story even more remarkable.  All that happened on November 4, 1909 in Beloit, Wisconsin.

    Those aviation firsts are just some of the many firsts that Arthur Pratt Warner  experienced during his long and storied life. Those firsts, the man, and the 100-years of Wisconsin aviation history since are what the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) will be celebrating in Beloit during the next few days.

    Centennial of Flight exhibit and Warner-Curtiss model

    Commemoration of Warner’s flight begins at 9:00 AM at the Morgan Elementary School, 1811 Lee Lane (adjacent to Highway 81), on Beloit’s east side. The school sits on the original Morgan farm, site of Warner’s first flights. Weather allowing, festivities include a reenactment of Warner’s flight and a flyover by Wisconsin Air National Guard aircraft. A one-quarter scale replica of Warner’s aircraft and a Centennial of Flight display will be available for public viewing in the school’s gymnasium until 1:00 PM.

    Wednesday festivities continue at the Beloit Historical Society’s Lincoln Center, 845 Hackett Street, at 5:00 PM. Wisconsin historian and WAHF board member Michael Goc will present “A. P. Warner, an Appreciation.” WAHF will then present the Warner-Curtiss model, on long-term loan, to the Beloit Historical Society. Recognition of EAA Chapter 60 Beloit-Janesville, builders of the model, will follow. Refreshments available following the presentations.

    Smithsonian Senior Curator, Dr. Tom Crouch, will present “Aviation in 1909 and Wisconsin’s AP Warner” on Saturday, November 7. The presentation will take place in Eaton Chapel on the Beloit College campus beginning at 3:00 PM. A reception will follow the presentation.

    There is no charge for these events and the public is encouraged to participate.

  • 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?

  • Thunder on the Lakeshore

    Posted on June 7th, 2009 John Dorcey 1 comment

    Today my husband, John, and I staffed the Wisconsin Centennial of Flight exhibit at the Thunder on the Lakeshore air show in Manitowoc. The friendly members of EAA Chapter 383, located in Hangar 22 at the Manitowoc County Airport (MTW), welcomed WAHF with open arms so that thousands of air show visitors could learn the story of the first airplane that flew in Wisconsin, and see a quarter-scale model of that airplane.

    While John and I were there, we ran into Andrew Ovans, our 2007 Carl Guell Memorial Scholarship recipient, who has volunteered at the Thunder on the Lakeshore event for three years. Andrew stopped by to check out the exhibit, and we learned that he’s graduated from Fox Valley Technical College and is now looking for employment as a pilot or aviation maintenance technician. We also asked Andrew what he thinks about the Warner-Curtiss model. Like many others who have seen the model throughout the state, Andrew’s words were full of admiration for the EAA Chapter 60 members and the fine work they did on the model.

    Neal Darnell and his jet truck Flash Fire

    WAHF Board Members Tom Thomas and Michael Goc staffed the exhibit on Friday night and Saturday. John and I were glad to grant them a reprieve so we could meet and talk with the fine folks at Manitowoc and see a great air show (in spite of unseasonably cool weather). Perhaps the cool weather led to more men, women, and children seeing the model, for they were looking for a place to get out of the cold wind and found Hangar 22 the place to be. Not to mention, the pancakes and sausage they served at their breakfast fundraiser were delicious!

    By mid-afternoon, John and I began partial disassembly of the aircraft and loaded it back into its shipping container. With help from several EAA Chapter 383 members we got it loaded onto the trailer and transported it safely to Oshkosh. It will be on display in the terminal at Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) until June 19. Be sure to stop in to see it if you haven’t already. Better yet, come by on Tuesday evening, June 16, when I’ll be giving a presentation about Wisconsin’s first flight. The presentation is titled “The First Thing I Knew, I Was Flying”, you’ll find interesting how surprising the first flight was…to our state’s first pilot. The presentation begins at 6:00.

    —Rose Dorcey

  • Blue Angels and kid’s dreams

    Posted on May 30th, 2009 John Dorcey No comments

    It wasn’t only jet noise that filled the air around the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (JVL) today. Kids at Southern Wisconsin 2009 AirFEST had their dreams take flight too. After too many airshows to count, I tend to watch the crowds more than the flying demonstrations. Specifically, I watch the faces of young people, listen to their questions, and smile to myself as I watch them pull their parents along from one exhibit to the next.

    Air shows are made up of aircraft, food, static displays, exhibits, flight demonstrations, and people. It is reassuring to see the awe and excitement in the faces of youngsters as they move along the flightline. Each aircraft capturing and holding their attention until a glimpse of the next and its pull draws them near. Their questions have been asked by generations before – How fast? How high? Can I?

    The Warner-Curtiss model and Centenial exhibit attracted questions at FlightFEST

    The Blackhawk Technical College’s Aviation Center, located near air show center, attracted its share of visitors and questions. The school has been turning out aircraft maintenance technicians since the late 1940s. This year, the school hosted the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame and its Warner-Curtiss replica. WAHF members had the opportunity to answer lots of questions not only about the history of flight but the future of it as well. EAA Chapter 60 members staffed the exhibit and provided information about the replica’s building process.

    Static displays will always take a back seat to a flight demonstration. This is especially true when the demonstration is being flown by the US Navy Blue Angels. The Blues did their flying as only they can. It was just as exciting this time as it was the first time I saw them in the mid-1960s. My dreams about aviation took flight that time. I know the dreams of many others took flight this time as the Blue Angels put their F/A-18s through their paces.

    From what I saw, the future of aviation is in good hands.

  • Wisconsin Public Television and the Warner-Curtiss

    Posted on May 11th, 2009 John Dorcey No comments

    The Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) network will share the story of A.P. Warner and his Warner-Curtiss airplane. In Wisconsin reporter Andy Soth travels to Beloit where he meets the builders of the 1/4-scale replica of the airplane. Members of EAA Chapter 60 spent five months constructing the aircraft.

    The program airs on Thursday, May 14 beginning at 7:00 p.m. An encore presentation will air on Sunday, May 17 at 4:00 p.m. There are six WPT transmitters throughout Wisconsin – Madison (ch 21), Green Bay (ch 38), Wausau (ch 20), La Crosse (ch 31), Menominee/Eau Claire (ch 28), and Park Falls (ch 36).

    View a clip of the program at the WPT website. A transcript of the program will be available at the website after the program airs on Thursday. A press release describing this In Wisconsin episode is  available.

    The aircraft replica is currently on display in the Wisconsin State Capitol. It will return to Beloit on Thursday, May 14. EAA Chapter 60’s Spring Fling Pancake Breakfast and Auto Show takes place on Saturday morning from 7 to 11. Further details are available at the chapter’s website.

  • Warner-Curtiss aircraft lands at Wisconsin Capitol

    Posted on May 9th, 2009 John Dorcey 1 comment

    The 1/4 scale replica of the Warner-Curtiss aircraft arrived at the Wisconsin State Capitol yesterday, Friday, May 8, 2009. The aircraft and its accompanying educational exhibit is located on the second floor. The aircraft will remain on display through Friday, May 15th when it will depart for Beloit, Wisconsin, in time for EAA Chapter 60’s pancake fly-in breakfast on Saturday, May 16.

    Warner-Curtiss exhibit, Wisconsin State Capitol

    A hearing on Assembly Joint Resolution 37, proclaiming Wisconsin’s Centennial of Flight, will be held on Wednesday, May 13. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am. Anyone interested in supporting the resolution is encouraged to register at Assemblyman Gary Hebl’s office, Room 120 North, in the capitol.

    The Warner-Curtiss aircraft will continue to travel around the state as part of WAHF’s Wisconsin Centennial of Flight celebration. Visit the WAHF website  for a complete list of exhibit locations and dates.

  • Warner-Curtiss unveiled

    Posted on May 5th, 2009 John Dorcey No comments

    A. P. Warner first flew his airplane on November 4, 1909. The airplane was lost in a hangar fire sometime around 1914. Between those dates, thousands viewed the airplane, a majority of them saw it fly.

    Warner-Curtiss exhibit, Wisconsin Aviation Conference

    On Tuesday, May 5, 2009, the airplane became visible once again. This time the Warner-Curtiss is smaller (1/4 scale) and it will never fly, but the hundreds who viewed it that day were as filled with awe as those who saw the original. The Wisconsin Aviation Conference, May 4-6 in Eau Claire, provided the perfect venue for the first public appearance of the model. Nearly 300 aviation professionals were in attendance and most all of them stopped to look at, study, and appreciate the craftsmanship in construction.

    Rose Dorcey, WAHF president, told the A. P. Warner story during the event’s banquet. She also shared details of WAHF’s Wisconsin Centennial of Flight celebration and how to participate. Visit the WAHF website to learn where you can join in the celebration.

  • Warner-Curtiss update

    Posted on April 23rd, 2009 Tom Thomas 2 comments

    These parts have come together to form an aircraft

    Yesterday, Wednesday, April 22, I was able to visit a construction session of EAA Chapter 60 at the Beloit Airport and see the status of the Warner-Curtiss quarter-scale model. This airplane was the first purchased by an individual in the US and the first to fly in Wisconsin. With the help of many expert hands, it’s really coming together.

    Work on wing structure continues

    It’s been a long time coming, but steady progress and steady hands have brought it together. The quality of workmanship is outstanding. In talking to chapter members, there have been challenges where they had to interpret the plans as to how Glenn Curtiss wanted things to work out. They stuck with it and progress continued.

    The aircraft is now 95% complete and will be ready for its first display at the Wisconsin Aviation Conference in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, May 5 and 6. If you are in the area, stop by and take a look at it and bring your camera.

    The Beloit Daily News has written two articles, one on February 13 and the second today, April 23, about A. P. Warner, his airplane, and the Wisconsin Centennial of Flight.

  • Building pace accelerates

    Posted on March 28th, 2009 John Dorcey No comments

    The four wing panels of the Warner-Curtiss were assembled at last Wednesday evening’s work party. The assembly took longer than first anticipated, taking about 2 1/2 hours. According to Al Draeger, project co-lead, “The size of the parts we are working with makes them difficult to handle. We need baby fingers to hang onto them.”

    Wing panels await assembly

    Next week’s effort will be on Tuesday and start at 2:00 PM. Keeping the builders focused on the project – dinner will be provided at the work site. A planned 7-hour work session should result in much being accomplished.

    The change from the normal Wednesday build night is due a schedule conflict. Chapter members will be attending an aviation safety seminar on Wednesday evening. Typical pilots, they want to keep up on the latest aviation safety information.

    Parts continue to be built at chapter member’s home workshops. The work pace will continue to accelerate as the completion deadline nears. EAA Chapter 60 meets at the Beloit Airport.