Early Bird Reunion in  Dayton, 1972

From CHIRP, 1973


Early in the year, the late "Ernie" Hall suggested that the 1972 Early Bird reunion be held at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, and he forwarded a letter which he had received from Brigadier General E.A. Rafalko, Commander, inviting us to participate in the celebration of the Silver Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. Before the date was set for the reunion, General Rafalko was succeeded as Commander by Colonel Irby B. Jarvis, Jr. who renewed the invitation and added that he was looking forward to hosting the Early Birds at a luncheon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
     On Wednesday, September 20, 1972 the Early Birds started gathering in the reunion headquarters at the Sheraton-Dayton Hotel in a special suite reserved as the "Early Bird Nest". One of the best moments of any reunion is the greeting of fellow members after another year away from each other, growing older in years but closer in memories. This was no exception.
     The Air Force Museum was dedicated September 3, 1971 by President Richard Nixon. Now, one year later, it's collection of aircraft is extensive. They are exhibited in two major halls and on a runway north of the main building. It also contains the E.W. Kettering collection of approximately 600 scale models of the world's aircraft, all scaled to 4 mm. to the foot.
     The west wing of the museum contains the planes that captured the interest of the Early Birds. Here is displayed a replica of the Wright Brothers' original Kitty Hawk Flyer, a Bleriot-type monoplane built and flown by Ernest C. Hall, many other aircraft from pioneer days and engines used in them. The American Broadcasting Company had their television cameras set up in this wing and taped many of the Early Birds comments as they viewed these exhibits.
     At 8:00 p.m. the Welcome Dinner was served in the Newcom-Dunbar Room of the Sheraton-Dayton Hotel. Our speaker on this occasion was Mark Sloan, the first Curator of the Air Force Museum.
     Following the talk Waldo D. Waterman presented moving pictures of several flights he made in the months preceeding the reunion in a replica of the "Vin Fiz", the plane in which Cal Rogers accomplished the first crossing of the continental United States.

Early Bird Reunion in  Dayton, 1972

  At 9:15 a.m. on Friday the Air Force busses left the hotel for a tour of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Here we were introduced to the mysteries of the 17th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic Air Command. One of the B52 Bombers and one of the Refueling Tankers had been made available for inspection by the Early Birds and trained personnel from the crews of these planes explained all of the intricate equipment and the procedure of refueling the bombers in the air. It was truly amazing to see how far military aviation has advanced.
     In the afternoon the Air Force busses took us out to that part of the field which was used by the Wright Brothers after their return from Kittty Hawk. Here many of the Early Birds were taught to fly by Orville and Wilbur. The names of those so fortunate are on a bronze tablet located at the Wright Memorial, which was our next stop. Here President Bonnalie place a wreath at the base of the monument as a token of the high esteem held for the Wright Brothers by the Early Birds.
     The morning of Saturday, September 23rd was taken up by the Board of Governors Meeting followed by the Membership Meeeting.
     Following luncheon, the busses were boarded for the trip to Carillon Park. It is an unusual series of museum buildings tucked among the sycamores, covering a 61-acre tract that was opened to the public in 1950. The points of interest to the Early Birds included the 1905 Wright Brothers' plane, a replica of their bicycle shop and other antiques of early days in Dayton. At 4:00 p.m. we returned to the hotel and began our good-byes for another year.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
January 1973, Number 79

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