Category Archives: Features

Tim McSwain presented with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Tim McSwain
by Ray Gill, VAHS Vice President

On April 20, 2019, member Tim McSwain was presented with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at KJGG in Williamsburg.


The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61. This award is named after the Wright Brothers, the first US pilots, to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots”.


Tim received a distinctive certificate and lapel pin in a ceremony conducted by representatives of the FAA. His name and city and state of residence will be added to the “Roll of Honor” located at

Last WWII ‘Doolittle Raider’ dies at 103

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, the last surviving member of World War II’s Doolittle Raiders, died Tuesday in Texas at the age of 103.

The president of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association told The Air Force Times that Cole died in San Antonio on Tuesday morning with his son and daughter by his side.

Cole, originally from Dayton, Ohio, was mission commander Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the 1942 bombing attack less than five months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The bold raid on Japan is credited with providing the United States with a morale boost and helping turn the tide of the war in the Pacific.

“I think the main thing was that you had to go in with a positive attitude,” Cole said in September of the against-the-odds mission. “I really didn’t worry about it. It was our job, and we knew what to expect.”

In 2015, the Raiders, including Cole, were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for their “outstanding heroism, valor, skill and service to the United States.”

Cole parachuted to safety, and he and other Raiders were helped by Chinese partisans. But seven crewmembers died – three were killed during the mission; three others were captured and executed, and one died in captivity.

In 2015, Cole’s book about his service called “Dick Cole’s War: Doolittle Raider, Hump Pilot, Air Commando (American Military Experience)” was published. Proceeds from the book go to a scholarship fund in Doolittle’s name for students in the aviation field, according to Fox 13.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tweeted Tuesday: “Our Nation has lost a legend. Our thoughts are with the family of Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last of the Doolittle Raiders, who passed away at age 103. He was a true trailblazer, and his selfless legacy of service lives on in our Airmen of today and tomorrow.”

A memorial service is being scheduled at Joint Base San Antonio. Cole will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Courtesy Fox News.


Life Member Emeritus, Tom Woodburn’s account of his journey to bring home his “new” beauty in “A Waco comes Home” originally published in the National WACO Club’s Waco Pilot, New Year’s edition.

It was a spectacular late October Monday, near perfect for flying, and on that day I found myself at 7500 feet crossing the Alleghany Front southeast bound and at the controls of ZQC-6 #4422, NC16203. My friend Dan who was along for the adventure was keeping up with our progress on the Ipad running Foreflight. I was quite happy to be pushing my thumb across the sectional and using the ship’s compass and my watch to track our advance on Richmond. My way seemed right and proper and with the Appalachians framed by two wings and the Jacobs rumbling contentedly I decided all was now right with the world.

click here to read the full article OR click for full edition of the Waco Pilot

**Special thanks to the Waco Pilot and the National Waco Club for printing this article and allowing us to share it with our members.


National Waco Club

The official publication of the National Waco Club


1947 TAYLORCRAFT BC12-D: Moving to Roanoke

The VAHS helped facilitate the consignment of Delegate Frank Hargrove’s Taylorcraft to Roanoke Regional Airport. The aircraft (Del. Hargrove’s first airplane) will join the VAHS Waco when it is hung from the ceiling of the Roanoke terminal in April. VAHS Board members Ray Tyson and Van Crosby, along with Tony Penna from Hanover, helped Jay Ball and his ROA maintenance team load the airplane for what could be its final journey. Del. Hargrove has been a member of VAHS since1980. A “hanging” ceremony is planned and will be announced in the near future. All VAHS members are invited to attend.

Frank Hargrove is well known in Virginia for his 28 years in politics and his business expertise. As a young man, he served in the USAF and attended Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. We look forward to seeing him at the ceremony.

Headquarters Chatter (April 2019)

In pondering what to say in my second article as Chairman of the VAHS Board of Directors it crossed my mind as to why I joined and continue to belong to the VAHS. Thinking about the words that make up the name of our organization – yes, I’m a Virginian (Virginia); yes, I’ve been involved in aviation (Aeronautical) for approximately 60 years and an active pilot for over 50 of those years; yes, I enjoy the comradery of belonging to an organization of like minded folks (Society); but I think one of the main reasons I’m attracted to the VAHS is its tie to aviation history (Historical).

In my professional years in the military, as a university administrator and dean of a university aeronautics school I was involved many times in setting a sense of direction, in creating a vision and in leading an organization to grow and move forward. Thus, I’m reminded of the adage “If you don’t know where we’ve been you won’t know where you’re going.” Or, as some are wont to say, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As aviators, knowing and understanding our aviation roots will help us understand and better apprecoate all the advances and technology which exist today and how to best apply them. Most particularly we will have a far greater appreciation for the role aviation and airplanes have played in building today’s world and how it will affect the future.

Almost 15 years ago I transitioned to flying airplanes with “glass cockpits.” Cessna 172’s that had more advanced communication and navigation systems than some commercial airliners and current military aircraft. Having flown “basic needle, ball and airspeed” aircraft early in my flying career, although it was a challenge to make the change, the old knowledge combined with the new made me a better pilot.

The same is true for having good aeronautical sense and making sound aeronautical decisions. Putting and viewing situations in their current context is important but looking at them with a historical perspective provides even better, as we say in the flying world, SA or situational awareness.

For almost two years as the president of the Lynchburg Regional Airshow corporation (don’t let me fool you – it’s a bunch of volunteers who like to put on airshows) I’ve been involved in preparing for the 75th commemoration of the 1944 D-Day invasion. In my opinion, this was one of, if not the most monumental military operation in the history of warfare. The success of D-Day set the stage for the conquering of the Nazi regime and freeing Europe from the tyranny of Hitler and his henchmen. What I’ve come to appreciate most is an increased awareness of the significance of what occurred 75 years ago. If it had failed, we would be living in a different world and potentially a much different country. Understanding, knowing and appreciating the sacrifices that were made and the importance of the application of airpower are critical to military planners even today as we continue to guard the freedoms we enjoy. What we learned in aviation in the 1940’s set the stage for the future of commercial aviation, for training pilots and aircrews and for even recreational pilots. It is the basis for much of how we fly today and why we do it the way we do.

This is why I joined the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society and continue to tout its value to today’s generation – we should never forget how we got where we are and how we draw on history to carry us forward.

Come visit us at: The Pilot House, 3381 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
Mailing address: VAHS, Shannon Airport KEZF Campus, PO Box 7795, Fredericksburg, VA 22404-7795
Phone number: 540-376-3265 / Email: