Written by Dennis Norman
A biennial World War I gathering
Photos by Jay Smith, Page Park, Charlie Sauter, and Eric Specht
As seen in the January 2016 issue of Model Aviation.
October 1-2, 2016, marked the 10th gathering of the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, which celebrates the early years of aviation. As in the past, the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous was held on the grounds of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Following months of meetings, telephone calls, preparations, registrations, and planning, David C. Thomas, Special Events Coordinator for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, brilliantly orchestrated the event.
Billy Thompson brought this impressive 1/2-scale Sopwith Camel. The model has a 14-foot wingspan.
Thursday, September 29, was the arrival day for aircraft and show participants. Full-scale aircraft that were able to fly began landing between 1 and 2 p.m. Aircraft unable to fly arrived via truck. RC pilots, reenactors, vendors, and those driving vintage automobiles for the show, came throughout the day.
The classic cars in attendance were given a chance to stretch their legs on the runway.
The Dawn Patrol Rendezvous provides a great opportunity to see some early aviation aircraft take flight.
Full-Scale Aircraft in Attendance
|Rick Bennett||Nieuport 23|
|Joe Cook||Nieuport 12|
|Glen Fike||Nieuport 11|
|Mark Hymer||Fokker D.VII|
|Wesley Jones||Sopwith Pup|
|Tom Martin||Nieuport 23|
|Marvin Story||Siemens Schuckert D.1|
|C.D. Walker||Curtiss JN-4 Jenny|
|Mark Lewis||Fokker D.VII|
|Andy Parks||SPAD XIII|
|Matt Kiefer||Cessna 175 Skylark (photography aircraft)|
Participants entered through the Spinning Road gate, where they received their parking permits and were directed to their assigned locations on the field. Pilots, crews, and reenactors participating in the mock battles were scheduled for dress rehearsals at 11 a.m. on September 29, and 1 p.m. on September 30. Unfortunately, the dress rehearsals were canceled because of inclement weather.
A dashing British reenactor poses with his impressive mount. It appears to be too modern for WW I service, but it added a nice touch to the show. Photo by Eric Specht.
The Dawn Patrol draws a large number of RC pilots and aircraft such as this Spad XIII.
This triplane and pilot might have been photographed more than any other aircraft.
Bad weather was the only flaw in this year’s Dawn Patrol Rendezvous. A storm system centered over Ohio and went into lazy counterclockwise circles over Dayton for several days.
Rain was falling when my wife, Linda, and I arrived on the evening of September 29. Because of this, we were only able to partially set up our tent before weather won the day. On Friday, September 30, we managed to finish setup before the weather again forced us to retreat.
At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, a reception and museum tour for all participants was held in the World War I Gallery at the museum. Following a tasty meal, the guests toured the museum until 10 p.m. Linda was amazed at the immensity of the museum’s fully loaded B-52, done up in Vietnam-era war paint, along with the massive amount of deadly ordnance it carried.
I was happy to see the collection of military jets from the 1940s and ’50s. Among them were a P-80, a T-33, an F-89, an F-94, and a B-47, to name a few.
Of particular interest was the museum’s new 224,000-square-foot fourth building. It was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation and displays more than 70 aircraft in four new galleries: Space, Research and Development, Global Reach, and Presidential Aircraft. The fourth building also features new educational opportunities in three STEM learning nodes.
Emphasis is on educating the public about Air Force history, its missions, as well as social studies, literature, and art. Students are able to participate through hands-on programs, demonstrations, and lectures. Programs offered meet National Academic Standards for subjects such as science, math, and history. They also featured simulator rides, including the Pulseworks Virtual Reality Transporter, an exclusive Space Voyage experience.
Linda was especially taken by the Presidential Gallery. It includes several examples of executive aircraft, including those used by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as the Boeing VC-137 C known as SAM (Special Air Mission) 26000, which was used by Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. It also carried heads of state, diplomats and other dignitaries, and officials on many historic journeys.
Linda and I toured SAM 26000, the airplane that carried President Kennedy to Dallas on November 22, 1963, and returned his body to Washington. The facility was nearly empty at the time, which allowed us to spend 20 minutes of somber reflection on the aircraft. Vice President Johnson’s smaller jet was nearby and offered us a moment of comic relief upon learning that he referred to the jet as “Air Force One-Half.”
Saturday, October 1, started with the national anthem and a wet field, which dried out enough by midmorning to complete setting up our tent. At 11 a.m., Brig. Gen. Vito Addabbo unveiled a splendid painting by Senior Master Sgt. Darby Perrin, depicting Lt. Charles R. d’Olive (93rd Aero Squadron) on a mission that took place September 13, 1918, as part of the St. Mihiel Offensive.
At approximately 1700 hours on that date, the 93rd Aero Squadron escorted an observation mission far behind German lines in France, only to become separated.
Lt. d’Olive met a patrol from the 103rd Aero Squadron just as it was pouncing on the enemy. Lt. d’Olive teamed up with Lt. George W. Furlow of the 103rd and successfully attacked a Fokker, causing it to spin out of control and crash. Then d’Olive and Furlow quickly climbed and attacked a second Fokker leading to its demise. Finally, Lt. d’Olive attacked a third German aircraft and followed it down until it crashed near the second airplane.
With three downed airplanes to his credit that day, d’Olive returned to the 93rd Aero Squadron’s base at Vaucouleurs. Upon learning of d’Olive’s actions, the base commander recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, which he was later awarded. In addition to d’Olive’s success, the 93rd Aero Squadron shot down four more enemy aircraft on September 13, 1918.
The Air Force Reserve Command History Office commissioned the painting and it will be on display at the Pentagon. Perrin signed lithographs of the painting, which he gave away at the information tent. Members of the d’Olive family were in attendance for the unveiling festivities.
At 11:30 a.m., a welcoming address was given by Commissioner Robert J. Dalessandro of the World War 1 Centennial Commission. The commission was established in 2013 and is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the WW I centennial.
Bright spots in this year’s Dawn Patrol Rendezvous included lectures given by several experts. Nicol Herris, of Aeronaut Books, provided a list of the speakers and their topics and also a list of publications authored by the speakers. The show’s official narrator, Stephen Skinner, gave informative commentary throughout the two-day event.
Three mock battles were held each day of the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, all ending with “forced landings” of both Allied and Central Powers aircraft. Reenactors then “captured” the downed pilots.
Joe Hanson’s Fokker Dr.I looks intimidating from this angle.
Upon completion of the daily battles, magnificent RC models took to the skies. Sunday, October 2, turned out to be the best weather day of the event. Large cumulus clouds were overhead, but no rain fell. Attendance dramatically increased, vendors’ sales soared, and best of all, Charlie Sauter and Eric Specht captured Sunday’s activities on camera.
The cockpit detail of a WW I Scout temporarily parked on the flightline before the admiring crowd of visitors that gathered on October 2, 2016. Photo by Charlie Sauter.
Resplendent in Belgian colors, this Nieuport contrasted nicely with the amorphous gloom of the last day of the 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous. Sauter photo.
Superb detail and accuracy characterized this exquisite Antoinette, from its intricate engine and landing gear to its realistic-looking pilot figure. Specht photo.
At 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, the closing of 2016 Dawn Patrol Rendezvous was celebrated with a buffet-style banquet at the museum. Spirits were high despite the weekend weather challenges, and planning began for the next Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, scheduled for September 22-23, 2018. Once again, it will be free and open to the public.
See you there!
Dawn Patrol Rendezvous
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force