I attended the Tailhook Convention up in Reno early in September as you who attended our luncheon on 13 September can attest. I had some swag that I gave out to those in attendance. Boeing was very good about handing out tee shirts and of course I had pens, pins and other stuff to give away. Picking up trinkets and tee shirts is not all that I did at Tailhook. I manned the ANA table and talked at length to Dave Kennedy, the Editor of Wings of Gold, and Betsy Phillips, our Secretary/Treasurer. I sat next to RADM Davis “Deke” Philman, ANA President, but he was pretty much tied up with folks in the higher pay grades. All seems to be well with national despite the loss in membership that is affecting everybody.
I also had the chance to talk to other C.O.’s of ANA squadrons from other parts of the nation. CAPT Tom Spink, USN (Ret), the C.O. of the San Francisco Bay Squadron, was there and filled me in on their participation in Fleet Week. I spent lots of time with LCDR George Bickford, USN (Ret), the C.O. of the Flying Beavers Squadron (Portland, OR). His grandson who is an active duty Naval Aviator came with George. At the banquet they both wore their whites! Quite a sight. To my surprise, I was seated next to the C.O. of the Okie Squadron (Oklahoma City, OK), CAPT Charles “Goose” Gudmunson, USN (Ret) at the banquet. We had a great time talking about past flying, not me (I am Army Corps of Engineers) but him, and the folks he knows and I know. He asked specifically about Mel Blixt, one of our (GPS) former C.O.’s. Unfortunately I had no answer for him on Mel’s whereabouts or condition.
All in all, it was a good Tailhook. I got to see the folks from the Head Shed; some old friends who spoke at GPS, like Don Shelton, Royce Williams and Marc Liebman; and looked for potential speakers. I met some industry people who likely will come up to Garden Grove to brief us on old and new systems that are in the aviation pipeline and on flight line. The symposia were interesting and informative. I now know way too much about funding, safety and personnel issues plaguing the Navy and the other services. In any event, I had fun and got back safely without a big hangover. See you on the 11th and bring a friend.