YAM Notes: March/April 2007

By Rich Banbury

The Aviators.  In 1686 Isaac Newton published the first volume of Principia, in which he scientifically explained why, when we leap straight up into the air, we immediately fall back to the ground.  Two hundred and seventeen years later, Orville and Wilbur Wright discovered a way to overcome the affects of Ike Newton’s law of gravity by means of powered flight.  And ever since that auspicious adventure at Kitty Hawk in 1903, when the Wrights proved the skeptics wrong, the spirit and ingenuity of man have propelled us into the wild blue yonder.  Flying as a passenger is one thing, but piloting the craft is quite another.  Many of our mates have displayed that special kind of courage which is required to coax a plane into the troposphere and, more importantly, bring it safely back to earth.  Mike Dickerson and Rob Hanke both learned to fly at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, with advanced training at Kingsville, Texas.  Mike flew land-based A4 Skyhawks during two tours in Viet Nam involving close air support. Rob, who was the first person to obtain a perfect score on the Pensacola physical fitness test, went on to have a distinguished career as a Marine combat aviator flying F4 Phantoms off the decks of carriers.  As a fighter pilot during both the Viet Nam War and the Cuban missile crises, Rob logged over 175 missions and was Top Gun of the 2nd Marine Air Wing.  He also flew helicopters, and was shot down (but not captured) during one of his 23 missions as a chopper pilot.  A retired Colonel, Rob’s honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Following his military service, Rob was a test pilot in the Apollo and Gemini projects for NASA.  Our favorite architect in Wilmington, Delaware, Charlie Weymouth, buzzed around the east coast from 1967 to 1998 in his Cessna 182.  In addition to frequently flying into Tweed Airport in New Haven, Charlie was also known to touch and go at Hammonassett field, a venerable general aviation runway in Madison, Connecticut.  Dave Sellers of Warren, Vermont, is also known to have shunned commercial aviation in favor of piloting his own craft.  For eight years Dave flew his Piper Tripacer in the Northeast sky, including a harrowing night landing when his lights went dark.  Eventually Dave’s co-owner experienced an impromptu landing in a Maine field and the unsecured Piper was blown away.  Reporting from Phoenix, Bob Daehler has logged extensive hours in the air, and is rated for both commercial and rotorcraft equipment.  As previously mentioned in this column, Wilse Keithline of Simsbury, Connecticut continues his solo junkets in his club’s Cessna 172 when the spirit moves him.  All Class pilots are invited to join the aforesaid club by contacting me at banburysixty@aol.com.                     

Do not resist the temptation to fly into Logan International for our May reunion in Boston.  The initial event will be a luncheon at the Harvard Club on Thursday, May 10th, when Peter Vanderwarker will lecture on Beantown history and architecture.  Our Boston Reunion Committee of Bob Ackerman, Dave Carls, Al Durfee, Ted Stebbins, and Jim Taylor has designed a terrific three-day buffet of events invoking and exploring the rich cultural heritage of a great American city.  If you’ve misplaced your mailing for this New England celebration, contact Jim at jctslf@comcast.net.                 

The number of our Class marathoners has increased to 23.  Oscar Wand ran his first and only 26-miler in Honolulu last December.               

The AYA assembly attended by Dave Toomey last November emphasized student involvement in both volunteer work and international study.  One example, as reported by Dave, is a fledgling organization named Engineers Without Borders, which was started by Yale students and has undertaken a project for a Honduran village in which students designed and constructed a water collection, filtration and distribution system to replace the insufficient and polluted water supply that previously existed in that community.  Over 3,000 Yale students contribute 120,000 hours per year of volunteer service in the New Haven community.  Dave also tells of a talk by Tom Beckett, which revealed the fact that Yale has spent $101 million in the last ten years on athletic facilities, including $30 million toward the magnificent restoration of Yale Bowl.                

While many mates are phasing out of the legal profession, Bruce Duggar has formed a trusts and estates practice in Jacksonville.  As a member of the Gator Bowl Committee, Bruce frequently meets with athletic officials at various campuses touting Jacksonville as a superior venue for New Year’s Day kick-offs.              

For the past nine years, Pete Dickinson has been a tutor and teacher’s aide at the Elihu Yale elementary school, which is located in one of Chicago’s most economically disadvantaged communities.  The Yale Club of Chicago has adopted Elihu Yale, not only providing extensive tutoring, but also sponsoring field trips, bringing in a music educator, and donating books and athletic equipment to the school.  Approximately 75 Yale alumni have participated in the program, which has substantially benefited the students, as well as bringing great satisfaction to Club members from stimulating the growth and development of young minds.  This life-affirming story was the subject of an article which Peter wrote for the YAM last November.                

The concept of a reunion in China next year remains on the agenda of the Class Council and its Executive Committee.  Po-Wen Huang of Beijing would be our local contact for organizing such an event.  Since Pete Knudsen and his company, Ecoair, are doing joint ventures in China, his contacts in that country and his discussions with Po-Wen are propitious for a Far East rendezvous.