2017 State of the Unit
A Message from the Wing Leader
As 2017 begins, new Air Group One staff has been seated and has started working on moving the unit forward. As the new Wing Leader I have a clear vision of where I would like to see the unit go in the future. Part of that vision to have better communication to the members and an element of that is to once again produce a quarterly AG1 newsletter. Some members seem to have just given up and don’t even come to our monthly BBQs anymore, and then don’t receive any information on what is happening at AG1.
We are planning to host two Tuskegee Airman and the local chapter at the February BBQ. Their appearance, of course, will be dependent on their health. Hopefully, Nelson Robinson and Capt. Claude Rowe will be feeling well that day. It is Saturday February 25th. The general meeting will start at 1100 and lunch will be immediately afterwards. Watch the AG1 website for additional details and invite your friends and family.
For 2017, I have set two main goals for the unit to focus on. First, to increase our paid membership and second, to increase our community footprint. Some of you have heard me talk of the vicious circle we are in… we need to have members… to be at the events to promote AG1 and its mission… and we need to be at the events… to recruit members!
Currently we have a small core group that gets involved in almost everything which includes not only the events… but also planning and organizing them, staffing them, setting up and taking them down, as well as the day to day operations of the unit and museum. This can lead to member burnout. I encourage everyone to get involved in AG1 events… and work to recruit new members. To accomplish our goals, we will need everyone’s help for AG1 to grow and become strong again.
I am working on forming a Promotional Committee which would be tasked with the planning of events to promote AG1 and to recruit new members. If you would like to help on the Promotional Committee, let any staff member know. For the unit to improve and grow, we need current members to get involved. It will be a slow process, but we can make it happen if we all work together with the same goal in our sights.
As for goal #2… I would like to get us more involved with community events such as car shows and street fairs. They may not be “aviation themed“ events, but people love WWII aircraft. I still talk to people that love the old warbirds, they have heard of the Commemorative Air Force, yet had no idea that AG1 is even here. By getting out to these events and talking to these folks, we are not only fulfilling our mission to educate, but these events lead to AG1 name recognition, paid rides, PX sales, artifact donations, and RECRUITING !!
I also plan to distribute more “Press Releases” of events and happenings in hopes to increase our name recognition and maybe even generate some press coverage. The Travel Network recently did a story on AG1 which should air sometime in March. City Beat Magazine also recently did a story on AG1 as well.
To present a professional organizational image of AG1, recognition and uniformity is critical. I have encouraged all staff to wear their AG1 shirts to all events. Staff is currently working on ordering additional C.A.F. uniform shirts, and developing a nice looking, comfortable polo shirt for AG1 members. We should have samples next month and decide on which to offer members. I ask that members wear their C.A.F. uniforms to all events to present a professional image and to be identifiable as AG1 members.
We are delighted that after a long delay, work has again begun on the L-5. The wings are currently at Flyboys Aeroworks being rehabilitated. There was some corrosion and misaligned parts that are being corrected. The gas tanks need to replaced, but work is progressing. After the wings are restored, work on the fuselage will begin. You can work on the L-5 to help restore it to flying condition. There is some work that does not require any special skills. There is a requirement that you are a current C.A.F. Colonel and AG1 member. Darrel Cook is the L-5 Restoration Manger and you may contact him for additional details.
We are also excited to have begun planning to revitalize out ASTEM program. This process will take some time and we are hoping to have it in place for the start of the 2017-2018 school year in September. Along with this, we are working on offering local schools a class field trip to our museum.
To supplement the ASTEM program and our goals to be out in the community more, AG1 is in final donation stages of having a trailer and most of a T-6 fuselage to restore and mount on the trailer. These will go out to ASTEM and community events. We have a potential sponsor as well and a good lead on finding parts. This will require a tremendous amount of work from volunteers to make that happen. The L-5 project has priority so work on the T-6 cannot begin until afterwards.
Plans are being finalized for what should be a great fundraiser for AG1. On May 19th AG1 is sponsoring a Golf Tournament as a fundraiser at Maderas Golf Club in Poway. Maderas is a highly-rated course and golfers will be able to play in our tournament a lower cost than they could just go there and play. There will be additional fun golf activities, a helicopter ball drop and a dinner afterwards. We have a professional tournament organizer onboard this year. So start spreading the word and get your foursomes together as it will be a fun day. Details are now on the AG1 website.
And…. then on May 20th, AG1 will be at the Annual America on Main Street event in El Cajon. Last year this event saw about 30,000 in attendance. The last two years have been very good for AG1. Plan to come out and spend some time talking to folks and promoting AG1. El Cajon’s Wednesdays Cruise Nights will be starting in MAY as well. AG1 has an open invitation to attend with the PX and we will try to get there as often as we can… look for updates on the website and come on out to help promote AG1 at this fun event.
I want to take a moment and remind members, both new and old, of why we are here. AG1 was started at Gillespie Field in 1981 as the “San Diego Squadron” and later formed as a then, “Confederate” Air Force wing, and renamed as Air Group One. We have been a proud part of the Gillespie Field community for 35 years. Those years have seen many members walk through AG1’s hangar, including the only original WWII hangar left on the field located over in the SW corner. Planes have come and gone which include a Cessna AT-17 “Bamboo Bomber”, A North America F-82 which is a twin Mustang… and a Grumman F4F Wildcat.
The C.A.F. has over 12,000 members and we are a proud part of that organization. We can all read the Commemorative Air Force mission and goals but its summed up in part as: “acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans”, but we all have a different motivation for being a part of AG1. Some of us just want to fly these tough old warbirds, some focus on the restoration and maintenance aspect, some have a nexus to WWII perhaps a parent or grandparent that served, and there may be some that just like WWII history and want to be around this stuff. Whatever the reason, AG1 has a place for everyone to become involved. Please do your best to promote AG1 and get others involved even if its just bring them to the monthly BBQ. If you know of scout troops that would like to attend the BBQs and tour the aircraft, please invite them and let a staff member know.
AG1 lost a longtime member and friend in December. Ewald (Rudy) Rudat was one of the founding members of the San Diego Squadron and AG1. He was a Luftwaffe Pilot during WWII and has a very interesting history, including competing on the USA Men’s Pistol Team, in the 1980 Olympics and later winning a Gold medal in the Senior Olympics. Look for an article about Rudy in the C.A.F Dispatch at a later date. At Februarys Staff meeting I am going to propose that we erect some type of “‘Gone West” wall in the hangar to remember AG1 members that have taken their final flight.
I hope to get info out quarterly with this message, but being that we currently have a limited number of members that want to jump in with activities, like producing a newsletter, this is the best I can do for now. If there is anyone that would like the excitement, high pay and benefits of becoming the editor and produce the AG1 newsletter, please let me know.
If you have ideas and are willing to help make our unit grow, let us know. Some staff members will be attending the C.A.F. Wing Staff Conference in Dallas TX on February 3rd and 4th, if there is some specific item that you want us to explore there… let us know.