Meeting interesting People

Where to meet Interesting People

Museums are about the perfect place to meet like minded interesting people. My own local museum, Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver Washington, has bi-monthly meetings where they invite people to give presentations.

There are many small groups that have meetings on a regular schedule.

Association of Naval Aviation

Another group that is local to Oregon is one geared toward Naval Aviation. Lcdr George H. Bickford (Ret.) heads the this group. You do NOT have to have been part of the Navy or Marines to join - anyone who is interested in Naval Aviation can attend a meeting, or join it and help support it.

They have monthly meetings off of I-205 at the Johnson Creek Road (Exit 16) at The American Legion Post 105; 8329 Southeast 89th Avenue, Portland, OR 97266 ;(503) 771-4293.

The presentations have been varied from a B-17 pilot who was attacked by an ME-262 and survived (his three wing men did not), to a talk about the replacement for the P-3 Orion, FLIR systems optics on aircraft, Naval Cadet training - pretty much anything that is interesting relating to Naval aviation / regular aviation.

Call George Bickford (USN, Ret) at 503-656-6643 or e-mail bick @ teleport.com.

Mailing address: Flying Beaver Squadron; PO Box 432; Clackamas, Oregon 97015-0432 (ANA Application in PDF)

Young Marines

Since the Marines are a sub-group of the Navy, the Oregon Cascade Young Marines is another group - if you are at least 8 years old and have not graduated from High School - this group is where you can learn about the Marines, almost be one, though organized activities.

If you would like the Boy Scouts, Junior ROTC, or similar groups, then this group may be good for you too.

They recruit only twice a year - October and March.

Phone 503-523-5772 or e-mail at info @ ocym.us.

Southern Oregon Warbirds Association

If you live in southern Oregon you can meet x-aviation personnel at the Southern Oregon Warbirds Association (SOWA) http://www.southernoregonwarbirds.org.

Their meeting locations keep changing so you need to always check to see where they are meeting for both their luncheon and their dinner meeting. Elmer Giles at 541-957-9260 is the POC. Their dues are $10 a year.

Old Bold Pilot's Club

OBPC - Old Bold Pilot's ClubAnother similar group is the "Old Bold Pilots Club" which meets at noon till 2 Pm on the the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Village Inn at Bridgeport shooping center at The Village Inn Restaurant; 17070 SW 72nd Tigard right at right at Lower Boons Ferry Road and I-5 on the west side of I-5 at Exit 290.

Aviation Breakfast Club

This is the Walt Bohrer Chapter and they meet on the 2nd Sunday of each month (except Easter and Monther's Day) from 10 AM till 12 Noon at The American Legion Post 105; 8329 Southeast 89th Avenue, Portland, OR 97266 ;(503) 771-4293. This is off of I-205 at the Johnson Creek Road (Exit 16).

Jack Klien runs this.

You can get more info at aviationclub @ aol.com

Oregon Chapter Eighth Air Force Association - "The Mighty Eighth"

8th Air Force Emblem, Oregon Chapter There are many 8th Air Force Historical Chapters and Oregon 8thAFHS meets quarterly from 10:00 AM till 2 PM on the 1st Saturday in each full week of February, May, August, November at Beaverton Elks Lodge; 3500 S.W. 104th Avenue right off of Canyon Road.

 

 

Reunions are another great place to meet people.

National P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association Reunion

The very LAST P-47 Pilot reunion will take place in Seattle at the South Center Doubletree Suites Hotel May 5-8, 2005. See the P-47s web site at http://www.p47pilots.com

Some Presentations That I Have Attended

Don Malarkey 'Band of Brothers' Original

Don spoke at the 8th Air Force Historical Society meeting on November 13th, 2004. I then saw him at the Seattle Museum of Flight in 2011 then stopped at Cabella's - and he was there so I got to talk with him one on one for an hour.

P-39, Spitfire V and P-51 Pilot Colonel Ted Bullock

The November 2004 quarterly membership meeting at Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver Washington had Ted Bullock, a WW II thru Vietnam Era Fighter Pilot, give a short summary of his fighter career.

Colonel Ted Bullock WWII 3 Kill fighter Pilot presentation at Pearson Air Musuem in Vancouver WashingtonTed joined before Pearl Harbor because if you joined you automatically got a passing grade in all your college classes from the University of San Diego!

He went on to train in Ryans, AT-6s, and P-39 AirCobras then was sent to North Africa front where he was assigned to the 52nd Fighter Group, 4th Squadron, Flying British Spitfires in a reverse lend-lease arrangement.

He flew these until they transisitioned to North American P-51 Mustangs.

Bob Hoover was his tent mate before Hoover was shot down in 1943.

He went on to fly mainly missions escorting B-17s and B-24s over the Ploesti oil fields in 1943 and 1944 before finishing up his 50 missions. He scored three kills during the war, two 109s and 1 Italian 220 a/c flown by Rumania.

He was the C/O at Hickham field when they filmed the movie "Tora Tora Tora" in 1969. I found out that the scene where the P-40E a/c is shown trying to take off and then flies into the parked row of a/c was indeed an accident (he was watching from the tower) because the person controlling the a/c with a remote control system gave it full power and did not think about compensating for the torque of the engine. He went from idle to full and thus the a/c swerved left and into the parked a/c - and toward the stunt men in the scene. Thus, they truly were running for their life since that was not supposed to happen like it did!

Quarterly meetings at Pearson is open to all, you do not have to be a member to attend the meeting.

Tuskegee Airman Walter J. A. Palmer Sr.

Walter J. A. Palmer Sr. flew 158 combat missions over Europe during World War II. - - but some of his toughest battles occurred at home fighting bigotry at the home front.

At 81-Palmer still shares tales of wartime heroism and humiliation, peppered with humor.

"I believe it is important for people of all colors to know what we did during World War II to help defeat Nazism and fascism." Palmer served as a fighter pilot in the famed Tuskegee 99th Fighter Group from September 1942 to July 1945. Seeing combat as a ground support and air to air fighter pilot assigned to escort bombers from Italy to Northern Europe.

The black airmen assigned to escort bombers from Italy, over the Alps and into Germany itself at times, never lost one of their charges to enemy fire, and that reputation "resulted in quite a bit of adulation heaped upon us" from other crews with which they flew missions. "We knew we were breaking new ground in aviation, but we never had any idea it would turn out like it did," he said. At the time, he said, he was "a 22-year-old crazy kid" who thought he was invincible - - until a close friend's plane was shot down. "That made me think, if he can get it, maybe I can too."

Palmer moved to Indianapolis in the 1960s and has written a book, "Flying With Eagles."

He was at Pearson Aviation Museum when they held a reunion in 1995. Bill Holliman has spoken at Pearson also (see below).

Jeff McIlroy, who had 52 missions in the 483rd Bomb Group as a navigator told a story about the Tuskegee airmen.

On a mission to Vienna they encountered flak and his B-17was hit and damaged. Knocked out of formation, a straggler was always a target for German fighters. With two engines were knocked out and leaking fuel the crew threw out everything that wasn't bolted or welded down saving only the turret mounted and tail .50-caliber machine guns.

Another engine failure meant they could not maintain altitude to clear the mountains and they would become POW material. Nearing Italy the tail gunner hollered over the intercom that a bogie, an enemy fighter, was fast approaching.

The P-51 and the Messerschmitt Me-109 looked remarkably similar head-on, but the 99th Fighter Group "Red Tails", had adopted a policy of turning belly-up to the bombers to show the bomber crew that their airplane had square-tip wings while the bad guys' 109s had round tips. The fighter turned its belly to Jeff's plane just outside gun range. It was a big sigh of relief throughout the plane from all ten crew members.

As the fighter came closer the pilot said, "Woo-wee, white boys! You sure got a mess there in that airplane, but don't worry; I'll take you back." In a few minutes a squadron mate of the fighter pilot called him and told him to climb to a certain altitude because "I've got six 109s cornered up here!"

The pilot replied, "Get 'em yourself, black boy, you're drawing flight pay!"

He stayed with the injured bomber all the way back to base.

The B-17 was written off as un-repairable.

 

Pearson Aviation Museum Quarterly Meeting January 2004 Bud Embree

Bud Embree standing with his equipment, persoanl effects, and mementos from his combat tour in England during World War II.Mr. Bud Embree, he was a SSGT Ball Turret Gunner in B-17s: 351st Bomb Group (H) 511 Bomb Squadron, "The Ball Boys" in WWII. Bud served with and flew missions when Clark Gable did — in the 351st Bomb Group. He was seriously wounded on his second mission and was in a British hospital for 8 months. Through his wartime service connections with Clark Gable, he was sent back to the states to do war bond publicity. Bud was one of the first American airmen in England and may be the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross in 8th Air Force. Below are some pictures of Bud with his crew and with Betty Grable.

One comment he made about a scene that was filmed by Clark Cable during a mission was that when you see the FW190 coming toward the camera and the flashes on the nose and the wings that signify that the fighter was firing he knew by the angle that the German was not firing at Clark's plane, but the one directly below him. He thought he was still brave since at any point the German could have pulled up and the 20mm shells would have been coming at Clark- who was only shooting a 16mm camera.

Bud Embree and a WWII image of the cre in front of their B17 Bud Embree and Betty Grable on a war bond tour

 

January 2001 Meeting Stan Richardson

Stan Richardson, a P-38 pilot, talking about his career. He was part of the first US fighter squadron to fly over Berlin on March 4, 1944. Some of you may note that the first mission to Berlin is said to be March 5th, 1944. Well, they took off, the mission was canceled but no one told them! So they flew to Berlin, where a flak burst shot out his starboard engine. That meant that he could not keep up with the rest of his unit so he flew from Berlin back to his base alone, through clouds, on instruments. He was later told that his flight was the longest single engine flight in a P-38 at that time. He also held that dubious record for over a year.

One of the many interesting bits of information he talked on was the gunnery qualification. During WW-II, a fighter pilot only had to get 5% of the rounds on target to qualify! This was using the K-14 gun sight. When the radar model of the K-14 came out, which was used in Korea, the same pilot could expect to get 90% of the rounds on target!

A P-38 Allison engine would burn 1 gal/min at cruise.

The heating for the pilot was totally inadequate. You were always cold in a P-38 over Europe. Over Africa, South Pacific it was no problem. But at 50 below zero at 25,000' the 8 feet from the heat intake to the cockpit vent the air went from red-hot to 20 below. Basically worthless.

In January of 2005 Stan spoke at the 8th Air Force meeting about his Korean and post-Korean aircraft experiences.

October 1999 Meeting

This meeting featured two pilots from World War II - - Ken Jernstedt (the Dalles airport was just renamed in his honor on September 8th of 2001) who flew with the 2nd Squadron of the AVG, better known as "The Flying Tigers", and Bill Holliman who flew with in the "Tuskegee Airmen" in the North Afrika, Italian and ETO also during World War II.

Ken Jernstedt

Ken recounted the reasons why he went to China and why, after the AVG was disbanded and absorbed by the US Army Air Corps on July 4, 1942, he returned to the states.

Ken, on the right, receiving a museum quality model of the aircraft he flew in China.
Ken Jernstedt, on the right, accepting a museum quality model of the a/c he flew with the AVG from the Pearson Air Museum Staff.

The highlight, for me, was his description of how, after missing out on a fun a/c retrieval to Africa, he went on a missions and got 7 1/2 kills when strafing an enemy airfield. At $500 a plane confirmed he earned more in one mission than most people did in two years! Right afterwards he went up to chase some enemy bombers (Type 96s? Medium bombers) and shot down two of them. But, after earning all that money and having been ribbed by the rest of the group for getting all that pay - - he never put in the paperwork to claim them!

After he told his story to the Air Aces Association they were really surprised. Confirming it was more difficult since he had not put in an official report it was not in the official records. Through secondary sources it was confirmed and his final score for victories was upped by two. This gave him the magic total of 5 allowing him into the Air Aces Association as a full member. A lot of documentation though, like this site Annals of The Flying Tigers still show him with only three.

Bill Holliman

Bill, in addition to his verbal presentation, gave a slide show using his own photographs taken during the war years. What makes this remarkable is that it is the ONLY color
Bill Holliman talking about the slides during his presentation.
Bill Holliman talking about the slides during his presentation.
Kodachrome pictures taken of the Tuskegee Airmen aircraft in the US and overseas!

So unique that the Air Force asked him for copies so they could use it in their museum.

With the color slides, and his sharp memory, Bill recounted many exploits that the 99th Pursuit Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group had. One of the interesting facets of the unit is that it flew four different types of planes during the war: P-39, P-40, P-47 and P-51s! Most units only flew one or two types - - flying all four they had a tougher time having to learn each type of a/c on what it could do and not do. Constant relearning of an aircraft is very hard while under combat conditions. Why? You get an hour orientation flight, maybe a group practice flight, then you fly into combat. Not a high survival type environment when you do not know the good and points of an aircraft.

 

Tuskegee Airmen Web Site

Tuskegee AirmenThe Tuskegee Airmen have chapters some with their own web sites, this is the main web site. There used to be a chapter at Chicago's Meigs Field but is gone after the lake front airport was bulldozed by Mayor Daley on April 1, 2003 (fools day for a good fool) so where they meet now is unknown.

Not always are the speakers from the USA. A few meetings before they have a WWII Luftwaffe Me109 pilot talk about his experiences. He flew only ground support missions on the Eastern front from 1944 till March of 1945. He got got shot down, escaped back across the German lines in March of 1945. He reported back to his unit whereupon his commander told him to report to his hometown awaiting further orders - - which happened to be in Western Germany. Effectively getting him out of the war (there were no planes for him to fly anyway).

One of his revelations (to me anyway) was that during this part of the war there was an ongoing sabotage in a very subtle way. He stated that on a routine basis tank units would have delivered to them avgas and his unit would be delivered diesel fuel. This happened to other aviation units too. It was an ongoing problem during the last year of the war. For it to repeatedly to occur means it had to be deliberate by many people somewhere along the supply line.

All the men gave very interesting presentations concerning their exploits during the War. They also gave a good philosophical background on their way of thinking during this timeframe as to why they did what they did.

My Trips Overseas

In August of 1998 I took a three week holiday to Britain and Wales. While there I met also met interesting people.

At the Suttleworth Collection I met an x-RAF fighter pilot. This man started his combat career in 1943. Having survived he went on to become a talk show host and announcer. He was there preparing a background narration for a TV series on the Suttleworth collection. This aviation / car museum is around 80 miles NW of London.

Also while there I met a man who was a ground crewman in the RAF during the war. He was stationed from England, South Afrika, Madagascar, North Afrika and then finally back to England during his five years. Off of Madagascar he help maintain Lysanders on anti-submarine patrol! The Japanese had a refueling (!) base on the island during the early part and sunk shipping in the Indian ocean.

RAF AVRO Lancaster at East Kirby Museum in the United KingdomPictures of Avro Lancasters I also have met some real interesting people in English pubs. I happened to be in one south of Lincoln that was lined with bottles on the wall. While eating I heard two men talking and I discerned that one was a RAF Lancaster pilot and the other was EOD person. I naturally introduced myself to them and spent the next few hours talking with them.

The EOD - - Explosive Ordinance Disposal - - person cleared mine fields, obstacles and other enemy booby-traps on D-Day and through to the end of the war. (Even once getting his CO out of a minefield where the pilot had landed!)

The Lancaster pilot LEAD raids on Berlin as the "Master Bomber." This person was responsible for continuously dropping the flares on the target thus guiding the other 1000+ bombers to bomb and so forth. He would be the first to arrive over a target and the LAST to leave. They also were the high priority targets of the German Night Fighters. His crew shot down two night fighters during the war and even had an engine fire on one raid - - which they were lucky to put out 28 seconds after it started. The firewall behind the engine just in front of the fuel tank is rated for 30 seconds.

"We didn't think much of it at the time."

I also met two x-RAF pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain while at the Battle of Britain Museum in 1982. It was their first visit to the museum, and the above quote is how one of them answered my question as to what they thought of the battle while it was going on. I never even asked their names or for their autographs. They then wandered on.

Online Biographies

Online many people are now posting short bios. World War II era biographies come up every once in a while. One such that I came across was of Eugene T. Carson who was a Flight Engineer / gunner, in the 560th Bomb Sqn, 388th Bomb Grp, 8th AF/327th Sqn, 92nd Bomb Grp in the ETO.

Reason to Travel

One of the many great things I like about traveling is meeting people. You have to be open, take some chances, and be willing to try and talk to people you have never met till then.

Price William and Prince Harry on the way to Ascot in 1992.Prince William and Price Harry on the way to Ascot. On prior trip I met a tutor to the Prince of Wales and The Prince of York in Middle Wallop. I ended up spending two hours talking with him over lunch. He was a very interesting person told me of some interesting takes about those two!