Influences and experiences during John Stemple’s youth engendered a love of aviation and all things nautical. John was born in the city touted as “The Birthplace of Aviation” and early on he developed a fascination about and love of flying because the local citizenry cherished the legacies of the famous powered flight pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. An airplane ride arranged by George “Sky King” Vaughn represented John’s first trip to the clouds.
Mr. Stemple vividly recalls cruising the waters of Lake Erie around Put-in-Bay and Pelee, Ontario during summertime excursions aboard a Sea Cadets boat. Impressionable young John mentally pictured the majestic Royal Navy sloops-of-war HMS Queen Charlotte and HMS Detroit and the U.S. Navy snows USS Niagara and USS Lawrence with their associated squadrons during the bitter September 1813 Battle of Put-in-Bay (aka “Battle of Lake Erie”). From the deck of the small craft he watched commercial Ford Tri-Motors and general aviation aircraft transiting to and from island airports and Coast Guard cutters on patrol. To the child it was all fascinating.
Also influential was the fact that the Stemple residence was near a major air force base and jets passed overhead, some causing sonic booms, daily.
John’s father was employed at nearby Gentile Air Force Station, a military supply depot named after legendary Ohioan Don Gentile. In the early years of the Second World War, before the United States officially entered the conflict, Gentile had crossed the border and enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He soon transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF) and became an Eagle Squadron pilot and subsequently a U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) ace. A few years later, while training to earn aircraft maintenance technician ratings, Mr. Stemple was regaled with an instructor’s recollections of Don Gentile flying a North American Mustang fighter around Piqua, Ohio.
Thus, Mr. Stemple, still only a teenager, had become engrossed with the aeroplanes and vessels of the Canadian, British, and U.S. armed forces and the respective countries’ coast guard services.
After John obtained the applicable Federal Aviation Administration licenses he attended university and earned three (Aviation Administration, Management of Human Resources and Community Leadership) academic degrees. Eventually Mr. Stemple undertook flying training and earned aviator wings.
Genealogical researchers contend that John Stemple possesses Canadian First Nations and U.S. Native American (Alaskan Inuit and others) ancestries, in addition to being a direct descendant of King Robert II (Queen Elizabeth II‘s 17th great-grandfather) of Scotland.
In honor of the familial roots referenced above, John frequently writes about military aviation history related to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and former British colonies, protectorates and Israel (which was previously under the British Mandate for Palestine). An associated major theme of his work is the United States’ historic connections to the aforementioned.
In fact, John Stemple was a principal organizer and sponsor of ceremonies held in January 2016 to belatedly pay homage to those Floridians who voluntarily served in the RCAF and RAF during the Second World War. The first event was held at The Royal Canadian Legion Post 144 in Clearwater and the second at Winter Haven Municipal Airport (KGIF). Memorial plaques he designed and obtained for the project are on indefinite display inside the KGIF Terminal.
Mr. Stemple continues to promote the legacies of RCAF and RAF Americans in conjunction with Bomber Command Museum of Canada. An associated Colorado Aviation Historical Society & Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame was held on 14 October 2017 in Lakewood, Colorado.
John Stemple, a Commemorative Air Force “colonel” and commissioned member of the Honorary Order of Kentucky Colonels, serves 20th Century Aviation Magazine and the online publication’s Military Aviation Magazine division in the capacities of historian, photojournalist and camera plane pilot.
You may contact John Stemple via the following e-mail address: 20thCenturyAviationMagazine@Gmail.com