How my Interest in Warbirds
and Airshows all started
The Photo below is what
got me started or restarted into warbirds and then eventually airshows.
The photo above is the
"centerfold" of the Selfridge Air National Guard Base 60th Anniversary
Open House and Air Show that was held on July 2-3 1977. I was not
there and at the time was not interested in airshows or warbirds.
However, I was at Selfridge for two weeks in September of 1977 as part
of my last summer camp with the Michigan Army National Guard.
Normally, and for the five previous summers I would go up and "frolic"
among the sand and pine trees at Camp Grayling, MI for my annual
training or "summer camp". However, on September 7-9, 1977 the
National Governors'' Conference was held at the Renaissance Center in
downtown Detroit, and then Michigan Governor William Milliken wanted
"his" MPs to help out. So my unit, the 46th MP Company out of Lansing,
and our sister unit out of Owasso, MI went to Selfridge instead of Camp
Grayling for summer camp. This change of venue would change my life.
The first of the
two weeks was assisting with the Conference and the second was the
officers and senior non-coms trying to
find something for all of us to do. Otherwise known as "make
work". If we had been at Grayling, we
would have been the base police force, or as our secondary MOS was
infantry, we would have gone out into the woods and played army for a
week. We could do neither at Selfridge. So one fateful day I
was given the assignment of guarding an empty building for the entire
day. I went down to the building, sat down in the chair at one
of the old gray desks the military used to have (and may still have), and
pulled out a Louis L'Amour western novel from my fatigue shirt and
settled in for a leisurely read. Towards the end of the day I had
finished my book and was looking for something else to keep me occupied
until the end of the shift. I distinctly remember pulling open the
center drawer of the desk and finding a copy of the 1977 Selfridge Air
Show Program. Thumbing through it I came to the centerfold shown above
with some of the Confederate Air Force (now Commemorative Air Force)
(CAF) aircraft pictured, and told myself, this was for me. Actually it just
brought to the surface interests I had in growing up as a child in WWII
aircraft and history, but which had been repressed as I grew older and had other
issues to contend with. Like trying to get through engineering school
while being mathematically challenged. Getting through engineering school
during the late tumultuous sixties was my first and only priority or
interest. Leafing further through the program I found more
exciting warbird photos and information on the Confederate Air Force, including a mailing address
for the group.
When I returned
home, I sent a letter to Rebel Field in Harlingen, TX and awaited a
reply. When it came I filled out the paper work, sent it in and
became a "Colonel" in the CAF. So I went from E- 4 in the the MING
to Colonel in the CAF all in the same month. This set off a long
chain of events which brought me to my present state of interest and
this website. Just joining the CAF would not have got me here by
itself as I would have soon lost interest if there was nothing to do locally.
Luckily for me, CAF Colonel Lew Shake in Indianapolis thought the same
thing, and sent me a letter the next spring indicating he was
interested in forming a local chapter (Squadron or Wing) of the CAF.
This resulted in the Indiana Wing of the CAF that still exists today.
In 1981 the IN Wing started doing air shows for fund raising. In the first one
I had a minor role but in the second I took over the procurement of the warbirds,
which I continued to do for the latter Indianapolis Airshow until it
ceased operation in 2013. And I didn't go out and start
attending 20 or so aviation events a year like I do today. I had a
family to raise and support and a job to go to. There were a lot
of steps in-between but the program below and the two sets of CAF Photos
and information set me on a new lifetime direction.
Below is the entire Program from the 1977
Selfridge Air National Guard Base Open House and Air Show.
I could find no price for this, so I am not
sure if it was complimentary. Also this is not the original
program I found and brought home. Somewhere along the line it was
lost or misplaced in all of important "stuff" I have saved. I
found this at the Old Guard hobby store on Van Dyke in Warren, MI north
of the GM Tech Center. I used to stop by the store on my business
trips to Detroit and Troy, MI. At the back of the store they had
used books which is where I found this second copy. Old Guard
closed in the past couple of years.
The CAF had an hour and a half for what was then called and still is
"The Air Power Demonstration". I wonder what the F-4 Navy TAC Demo