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2017 Convention
Report from 14th Annual AEHS Convention
Tucson, Arizona (October 3 - 6, 2017)
by Tom Fey
Program

 

A most successful 14th annual AEHS Convention was held October 2 to 6 in Tucson, Arizona. Forty nine attendees, which included ten wives, enjoyed four days of camaraderie, touring, aeronautical treasure hunting, and boisterous discourse thanks to the hard work of out hosts, Tim and Kathy McDaid, and our laryngitis-stricken president, Kim McCutcheon.

The Pima Air & Space Museum is astounding for its size and diversity with almost 300 aircraft, dozens of engines, and innumerable artifacts to assimilate and enjoy. What other collection has a Boeing B-52, AVRO Shackleton, Martin PBM Mariner, North American F-107A, Vickers Viscount, and Convair B-36 on site, with a Lockheed EC-121T being painted inside the cavernous restoration shop and a Me-109F-4 being painted inside a booth? Although the aircraft are not restored to complete historical and potentially-airworthy standards like the Smithsonian NASM or NMUSAF at Dayton, the quality of their restorations is excellent and their commitment to preservation inspiring. Yes it was “warm” (99°F) and sunny, but our membership was wisely prepared and paced appropriately. The all-day airshow of F-16s and A-10s departing from, and returning to, the adjacent Davis-Monthan Air Force Base from training missions was an added bonus.

A bus tour around the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Restoration Group (AMARG) on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base allowed us to view the nearly 4,000 cocooned aircraft that wait in store for re-use in whole or as parts by the USAF or our allies. While there are a few aircraft of 1950s vintage (F-4, B-52) as well as some experimental and historically-notable airframes on site, it is the rows of C-130, early F-16, and newly retired Lockheed C-5A aircraft that stick in my memory. We are indeed a wealthy country.

Twenty miles south of Tucson is the USAF Titan II Missile Museum (site 571-7). Deactivated in 1982, the site is unremarkable from the outside at ground level, but spotless, complicated, and sobering underground. We were able to walk through the various chambers of the nuclear anthill where extremely knowledgeable docents gave a fantastic tour with detailed information on strategic, security, technical, and procedural matters. The entire underground facility is suspended, sprung, and dampened to survive an atomic blast as close as one mile away. Mutually Assured Destruction is an expensive and tragic reality of the human condition, but it has worked for my six decades, and every American should visit this National Historic Landmark.

The presentations on Friday October 6 were of high quality with diversity in their subject matter and presentation style. Paul Christiansen presented a very complete technical and corporate history of the Westinghouse J46 engine, followed by Sports Class builder, racer, and champion Jeff Lavelle, who shared his experiences on how to make a kit-built Glassair III go 409 mph around the Reno pylons. Arizona native Doug Culy kindly stepped in at short notice to discuss the inverted V-12 Junkers Jumo 213 engine, and John Leonard presented an overview of special projects designed and built by the Allison Engineering Company. Bud Wheeler of Allison Competition Engines gave a wonderful post-banquet presentation on rebuilding and improving the Allison V-1710, including the technical, bureaucratic, and financial complexities inherent in the design and approval of new parts to support these WWII-era piston engines.

The ladies program was guided with facility and enthusiasm by Kathy McDaid, with rave reviews by all. Friends were made with hopes of future encounters.

The opportunity to spend time, share knowledge, relive history, view artifacts, and ask questions among an open community with shared interests is the real foundation of the AEHS Conventions. For the fourteenth time in row, it did not disappoint.

 

Convention Sights

Convention Headquarters, Desert, Reception, and Sessions
by Ted Koch

 

Reception, Sessions and Banquet
by Gia Koontz

 

Aircraft and Engine Images, Session Presentations in the Members’ Section