Category Archives: Chairman’s Blog

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.

Headquarters Chatter

I recently had the opportunity to attend the promotion of a good friend to the rank of a four-star general in the U.S. Air Force.  Along with the festivities of the promotion he also assumed command of one of the Air Force’s newest commands – the Air Force Global Strike Command.  I found a ring of familiarity from having been a member of the Air Force’s storied Strategic Air Command for years, the command born out of World War II and the looming threat of the Soviet Union and bearing the responsibility for the nation’s nuclear arsenal and the employment of nuclear weapons in the event of a global war.  At the ceremony someone asked me, “what is Global Strike Command?”  I answered, “it is very much like the former Strategic Air Command,” the command that won the “Cold War!” At the same time a phrase I’d heard many times and supposedly attributed to Mark Twain came to mind, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”   In the case of the formation of this newest command it became clear it was critical that Air Force leadership draw upon the 40 plus years of Strategic Air Command history as the command was brought to operational status.

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society (VAHS) has a similar role – to accurately preserve Virginia aviation history so that when it “begins to rhyme” there is a repository to which we can turn to learn from the past and use as a basis to build upon.  And, of course, to provide a venue for today’s generation to learn about, appreciate and understand the role of aviation in the Commonwealth.  And hopefully to spark an interest in young people to pursue an interest or career in aviation.

The relocation of the Society headquarters to Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg along with the Virginia Hall of Fame has provided us with a grand opportunity to not repeat ourselves, but to “rhyme” in new, innovative and positive ways.

As the recently appointed Chairman of the VAHS I am committed to seizing this opportunity.  We are blessed with a rejuvenated Board of Directors, officers who are passionate about our mission and an environment at Shannon that is unprecedented in our history.   The partnership that has formed between Shannon, its owner, Luke Curtas and the entire airport Campus team is positive and extremely encouraging.

We have challenges.  We need to ensure we remain on a sound financial footing, we need to increase our membership and we need to build upon the opportunity we have at Shannon.  All of this is doable but, will take commitment and teamwork from the VAHS Board, the VAHS officers and the membership.

I look forward to my tenure and the exciting progress we will make as we build upon our past and create an even stronger VAHS.  As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the VAHS let’s fly in formation together and create a “rhythm,” akin to what the Strategic Air Command did for over 40 years, a rhythm that will last the VAHS another 40 years.

Dave Young



Chairman’s Blog – Old Pilots Log

Where will you find the stories of astronauts, fighter pilots, airline executives, airport developers, flight instructors, mechanics, engineers, rocket scientists and more than 120 other people: men and women from every race, creed, color, occupation or avocation: people who flew with Wright or Curtiss at the very dawn of modern aeronautics and people who have seen the Earth from orbit or have engineered landings on the Moon or Mars? Virginia’s Aviation Hall of Fame contains all of these and more. This year, we are celebrating the 40th year of operation of the VAHF and it seems like the appropriate time to focus on it.

The Hall was established to honor native, adopted or foster sons and daughters of Virginia who have made significant contributions to aviation and aerospace. This esteemed group displays incredible diversity in the aeronautic and aerospace world. The most important criteria for induction to the VAHF is accomplishment in an industry that profoundly changed the world in less than 100 years. The inductees may have been born in the Commonwealth, lived here or made their mark here.

Location is critical in real estate but matters less than the real value of what these extraordinary people contributed. Those contributions may have been spectacular, like a Moon landing or Mars explorer or they may have been quiet and “behind the scenes”, like establishment of a long-lived business, training and employing thousands. In the VAHF we find the people who survived incredible hardships in war, POW imprisonment, financial depressions and seemingly impossible technical, scientific or geographical obstacles. Others simply lived their lives doing what they loved and thereby encouraged or enabled scores of others to join the aviation world.

All are remembered and revered by those who were awed by them, learned from them, were protected by them, or boosted to their own fame by our inductees.

VAHF now is housed in the new Shannon Air Museum at Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is an integral part of the Shannon Airport Campus, which is growing rapidly into a major aviation destination. While the VAHF inductees’ stories are briefly told on the VAHS website (, the SAM contains artifacts, logbooks, airplanes and much more about these remarkable people and the worlds they lived in. Come and see it!

This will be my final Log entry as VAHS Board Chairman. It has been an eventful three years, some good and some bad, but that’s life. We lost the Richmond museum but gained a new ally in Luke Curtas and a great group of people at Shannon Airport. The new Board, led by General Dave Young and including several new members, has already “hit the ground running” with new ideas and projects to continue and expand the missions long supported by all of you in the VAHS. With your continued support, the future looks bright.

Our Contact Information:

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

Contact: Sue Baker, Office Manager/Administrator (540) 376-3265

Virginia Eagles, Official Newsletter of the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society (Quarterly)


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: