SAN DIEGO, 1975
|EARLY BIRDS AT BALBOA PARKLeft to Right --- Paul Garber, Dale Anderson (guest), Anthony Stadlman, Paul Wilber, Ralph Carter, "Matty" Laird, Leo Kimball, "Sinnie" Sinclair, Bob Warren, Melvin Hodgdon, George Clark, James Krull, Forrest Wysong, P. H. Spencer, Charlie Willard, Hamilton Lee, E. M. Allison (guest), Dave Young, Walt Addems, Joe Torrey, Erik Hildes Heim and Will Parker|
I speak for All Hands as I thank President-Secretary Forrest Wysong, Reunion Program Chairman Ralph Carter, and the Reunion
Committe for their excellent arrangements for our comfort, entertainment, and the enjoyable, instructive program. Forrest made three
round trips between his home in Los Angeles and San Diego to plan events and secure accommodations, while Ralph through his
professional contacts was able to obtain lenient rates and pleasant quarters at a first class hotel -- the El Cortez -- where he had formerly
been the manager.
"Buttons" and I arrived on Wednesday, in response to a luncheon invitation from Tom Sefton, long- time friend of aviation and a prominent banker of the city. Among the guests was Major Reuben Fleet, known to all of us as an eminent pilot, airplane designer, manufacturer, and philanthropist. I first met Major Fleet when he landed a Curtiss JN4-H mailplane on the Polo Grounds in Washington, May 15, 1918, to inaugurate the world's first air mail service to be maintained on a continuous schedule between fixed stations. From that 218-mile route have extended all of the airmail routes of the world. The Early Birds join with the entire flying fraternity in mourning the recent death of this very fine gentleman.
Saturday morning we bussed out to the Naval Air Station at North Island, an area rich in memories of Early Birds: Curtiss, Hallett, Callan, Towers, Waterman, Whiting, and many others whose names come to mind. Seaman Charles Bates, who was assigned to be our guide entered the bus as we came to the Base, and entertained us with descriptions of the principal buildings as well as his personal comments on Navy life. The carrier "Ranger" was moored dockside. As we drove there and looked at the great length and beam of this ship we were impressed by the extensive gear that constitutes a modern Naval vessel and the enormous organization that is required to keep it in service.
Having learned that a Stearman Navy Trainer had been flown from Torrance Airport to this Base for display as a contrast during celebration of our Navy's 200th anniversary, we bussed over to see it. There we met the owner, Commander Jack H. T. Prentice, and Captain Bill McKenzie, both U.S.N. Reserve, retired: and their beautiful airplane, restored to its original appearance by a combination of skill and love. They were proud to show it to us. Forrest and I climbed into the cockpits and the Birds gathered around to "ooh" and "ahh" and take our pictures.
The next morning at breakfast we chatted with dear friends and again expressed our appreciation for the generosity of the sponsors who had helped to finance our Reunion. They were: Mr. and Mrs. Randolph H. Baldwin, Roy P. Bridges, Douglas Aircraft Company division of McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, John C. Brizendine, President; Mrs. Ruth S. Fleischer, Viola Gentry, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Holderman, Mrs. John K. LaGrone, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, D. J. Houghton, Chairman; Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Messer, Mrs. Marvel Morehouse, Page Airways Inc., Gerald G. Wilmot, President; Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical, Bruce B. Jackson, Manager, Customer service; and Roy C. Votaw.