15 October 2016 | Lakewood, Colorado. It was a glorious day, one that provided a Rocky Mountain “high” undoubtedly comparable to one that the late singer, songwriter, and pilot John Denver referred to in his famous 1972 song. God’s creation was definitely on display in the Denver suburb of Lakewood: The autumn sky was a brilliant blue, the sparse clouds were a pure white, and the adjacent foothills displayed their grandeur.
CAHS is, according to the program provided to members and guests, “Celebrating 50 years of dedication and service in promoting and preserving the history of aviation in the State of Colorado.”
Prior to the event, Colorado Governor John W. Hickenlooper issued two proclamations. The first proclaimed 15 October 2016 to be “2016 Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame Day,” and the second declared 11 November 2016 as “Colorado Aviation Historical Society Day.” Copies of the documents were provided to the crowd.
To begin the afternoon a bagpiper piped the assembly to order prior to dinner. Lance Barber, CAHS President and the Master of Ceremonies, introduced the board of directors and noted the Hall of Fame Laureates in the audience. One particularly notable laureate was legendary Tuskegee Airman James H. Harvey III.
CAHS Director Peter Paul Luce then gave an invocation. Afterward Mr. Barber spoke about the Antique Airplane Association of Colorado (AAACO) and introduced AAACO President Devaki Douillard, who spoke eloquently about AACO’s history, her colleagues, and the organization’s activities. One recent project of note was the restoration of a 1946 Taylorcraft.
Dody Engel, AAACO Director and Original Member, provided a composition about the club. Also, the CAHS President’s Volunteer of the year award was presented to Lloyd Anderson.
The Federal Aviation Administration was represented by Brian Richardson and Denver Flight Standard District Office Frontline Manager Michel Harris. The duo presented Wright Brothers 50 Year Master Pilot Awards to Bill Schoen and Kenneth Gray.
Among the hundred attendees were representatives and/or members of the following organizations, which were not mentioned above: Air Force Association, Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Calgary Mosquito Society, Civil Air Patrol (the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary), Royal Canadian Air Force Association/de l’Aviation royale Canadienne, The Royal Canadian Legion/La Légion royale Canadienne and Royal Air Force Historical Society.
Those present eagerly anticipate the 2017 program. Tentatively, those inductions will include Coloradans who voluntarily joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during the Second World War and thereby defended democracy and the Mother Country (England) before the United States officially entered the conflict.
The recognition of Colorado’s WWII RCAF contingent will be timely because Congress is expected to pass legislation in 2017 that authorizes a Congressional Gold Medal for Americans who served in the RCAF during World War 2. Representatives of Bomber Command Museum of Canada and RCAF members will likely be present next year to dedicate a memorial and speak about related aircraft recovery initiatives of Halifax Rescue 57 (Canada).