Squadron invites aviation enthusiasts to join

Published 10:07 am Friday, October 11, 2013

FRANKLIN—An interest in aviation is more than enough to become part of the Old Dominion Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force.

This Saturday at 10 a.m., the public can find out more during the membership meeting in the terminal building of the Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport, 32454 John Beverly Rose Drive. Those planning to attend should arrive at the airport no later than 9:30 a.m.

“The vast majority of our members have a love of aviation, especially history of aviation, such as World War II,” said Mike Boehme, squadron leader for the second time. He’s also a 20-year veteran of the Air Force.

Right at 20 years ago, on the tail end of his second stint at Langley AFB, Boehme became interested in what was then called the Confederate Air Force, which has since changed its name.

He explained what keeps him going, especially since he travels from Mechanicsville. Squadron membership is in the low 40s, he mentioned.

“I’ve been involved with not-for profits before. You’re attracted to the organization because of its mission, but you stay because of the people and friendships,” Boehme said. “The whole group was founded on the premise of World War II air power, which was unbelievably important.

“We’re not reliving a childhood dream,” he continued. “But it’s very important as adults to pass on the importance of air power and how it shaped and changed the course of human history.”

John Friesz, who comes from Hampton for squadron meetings, has been a member for 10 years. He learned about the organization by word of mouth through a woman that he worked with. At that time, the Hampton Roads Regional Airport in Chesapeake was the gathering place.

“I just joined from that point on,” said Friesz, a Navy veteran from the 1960s.

At the time he signed on, Friesz was earning his private pilot’s license as a recreational activity.

He agreed with Boehme that a person didn’t have to have special requirements, such as flying or owning an airplane.

“An interest in aviation is enough,” said Friesz. “They’re a great bunch of people.”

The Old Dominion Squadron, based in the Hampton Roads area, is the Virginia Chapter of the CAF. As previously indicated, it’s an organization dedicated to preserving history by restoring American war planes and those of select nations to operational conditions. The CAF is one of the largest air forces in the world with more than 9,000 members and more than 150 airplanes. The Old Dominion Squadron has two assigned war birds: a Stinson OY-1 Sentinel, which is in the restoration phase, and a Ryan PT-22 Recruit, which has been fully restored and is able to fly. The group participates in various types of air shows all along the East Coast, but mainly in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

On Saturday, there will be discussions about upcoming plans for events, restoration jobs and acquisitions as well as future fundraising activities.

The squadron also puts on a public pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. every fourth Saturday of the month. This is done in conjunction with the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 339 in the hangar at the Franklin airport.

For further details about the activities and membership, email Boehme at mboomer6319@yahoo.com. Other information can be found at www.olddominionsquadron.org. For more CAF information, call 877-767-7175, or visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.

Sidney Moore, contributing writer, also added to this story. He can be contacted at sidburgundy@gmail.com.