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.