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Introducing Your New Briefing Editor
By Joseph Scheil, Editor—Briefing, EAA Warbirds of America 597792
Hello, and welcome to the new EAA Warbirds of America Briefing e-Newsletter! This year is shaping up to be perhaps the most exciting year for warbird activity in a long time, and it is my hope that Briefing becomes required reading for information and discussion as well as a welcome reading respite from your day job. I am going to be traveling and talking to everyone I can to bring you the best and most current and interesting discussion topics each month.
I fell in love with airplanes early, perhaps the first one being a bug-spraying PV-2 that I saw working the forests of New Jersey when I was very young. By the age of 9, I discovered my first issue of Air Classics after my family moved to California, and at 14 I managed to ride my bike the 26 miles to Chino to see the planes there. From my first magazines, I learned that warbirds were created and maintained by people who were gifted and driven by a love for history, mechanical perfection, and deep financial commitment.
I have made the annual pilgrimage to Reno since learning to drive and have watched so many of the great race planes make their glorious debuts. But I’ve also seen the heartbreaks and tragedies that accompany their constant pursuit for more speed.
In my formative years, I took the next steps to remove myself from quietly watching the activity at Chino, and as I attended college, I began to develop a professional aviation career. Or so I thought! I decided to leave college, return to Chino and work as an apprentice for Ray Dieckman on his FG-1D Corsair project.
There I got to meet and learn from those superhero figures who built those magnificent airplanes. I learned that people made these things fly, and without the skill to complete jobs needed to finish the plane, money was immaterial. My apprenticeship was freely given to me by people whose names set the warbird industry standard, people who love airplanes, and have very large and open hearts.
After leaving that job with my pilot ratings complete two years later, I took up with a dream warbird operation: first as a helper and then a co-pilot for Airborne Fire Attack, where I earned my type rating on the PBY-5A Catalina. For a year I was able to fly against fires in the flight paths of the great ones, and I got to experience the thrill of being in a working warbird operation.
I also learned the heartbreak associated with losing a plane, as we lost our first PBY in a pickup accident near San Diego that first year, though thankfully my friends survived. Another PBY, the Grumman Albatross and Mallard, and then briefly the Martin Mars cemented a desire to fly them all. I kept flying and working and today have an airline career that I am so grateful and proud to demonstrate.
My professional growth and the evolution of warbirds continues each day with the greatest respect and understanding for those with the professionalism and dedication required to acquire, restore, flight test, and then maintain, preserve, and campaign such aircraft. Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to attempt to restore and fly a Canadair CT-133 jet, and as she approaches first flight, it is my hope to show my trials and efforts in this most interesting of hobbies.
There is simply nothing on the planet more interesting to me than warbirds, and EAA Warbirds of America is the nationwide organization that best brings our passion to the people. The goal of being a warbird maintainer, pilot, or owner is a wholesome and valid one that requires a great amount of personal and private sacrifice. It is also the greatest group of people you could ever imagine.
It is worth the journey, and I hope newcomers gain the same sense of camaraderie, family, and trust that is ubiquitous in this group.