Flight of The Phoenix Aviation Museum

Blasts From The Past

Gilmer's Team Fenix recognized for work at Texas patriotic events  Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Gilmer s Team Fenix recognized for work at Texas patriotic events

Sulphur River Exploration Company CEO Rex Corey, Jr. is a hard-working Texas oilman based in Dallas whose company is one of Upshur County's most active oil and gas producers, bringing with it a substantial stream of revenue to local mineral interest owners and to the local tax base.

Sulphur River is also a supporter of charitable organizations and veterans' groups such as Wounded Warriors in the metroplex: so when CEO Rex Corey, Jr. read the recent Dallas Morning News article about Gilmer's Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum providing the vintage warbird fly-past for the annual Downtown Dallas Veterans Day parade, he wanted to express his support.

Enter Jack G. Langston, Oil and Gas Property Manager for Sulphur River/East Texas.

Last week, Langston called Steve Dean at the museum. He said Corey was pleased to read about the museum in the Dallas paper. He said Corey was looking forward to the Dallas Veterans Day Parade, and especially watching the Flight of the Phoenix Escadrille do the honors.


Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Gilmer s Team Fenix recognized for work at Texas patriotic events

Thousands honor veterans at Flight of the Phoenix Air Show

After the morning mist burned off, guests at the 10th Annual Veterans Day Air Show and Fly-in Saturday enjoyed a perfectly clear, blue sky as they watched the various war birds and other planes fly by.

Several thousand are believed to have attended the event at Fox Stephens Field-Gilmer Municipal Airport.

Lt. Col. Phillip Maywald, USAF (ret.), the honored guest, used his remarks to express appreciation for the preparation he received in Gilmer High School for his future career.

First, he recognized many of his Borden and Maywald relatives in the audience.

"When I went to the Latch Baptist Church, of the 60 there, I think 50 were my relatives," Maywald told the assemblage.


Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Thousands honor veterans at Flight of the Phoenix Air Show

Steve Dean receives Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Teri Bruner, Federal Aviation Administration Southwest Region Director presented the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Steve Dean during the recent annual Texas Aviation Conference in Austin.

The presentation was witnessed by Dean's wife, Linda Kay Dean, and several hundred Texas airport managers and aviation proponents, as well as presidents of aviation organizations EAA, AOPA, and NBAA attending the conference.

FAA Director Bruner recognized Steve for his "demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise in maintaining safe flying operations for more than 50 years."

After his first solo in August 1960 from Poole's Airport/drag strip near Gilmer in Upshur County, Steve entered Baylor University in September, 1960.

He worked his way through college at the Waco Municipal Airport first as a line boy, then airport handy man, then charter pilot, and finally as a flight instructor in Baylor's Air Force ROTC military contract school, instructing his classmates in the ROTC Flight Indoctrination Program.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Steve Dean receives Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Gilmer produced many Air Force heroes

Accomplishments of three Air Force officers whose careers are memorialized in the Flight of the Phoenix Museum at Gilmer's Fox Stephens Field were described for Gilmer Rotarians Tuesday by Rotarian Steve Dean, who established the museum.

He used a PowerPoint slide presentation to accompany his talk, and he discussed the Rotary Club's role in helping with the museum's development.

Dean said he had been inspired as a child by hearing his First Baptist Sunday School teacher, "Miss Mamie" Stephens, tell about the career of her son, Col. Robert Stephens. Then, one day in 1957, Stephens came by Henry McClelland's math class at Gilmer High School, in which Steve was a student, for a visit with his teacher.

Dean credited Stephens as one of the inspirations for his own career as an Air Force jet pilot. He noted that the City Council agreed to change the name of Gilmer's airport to Fox Stephens Field in recognition of this native son's accomplishments.

It was on May 1, 1965 that Col. Stephens and his crew set a world speed and altitude record in the SR-71 Blackbird fighter plane. That record still stands, Dean pointed out. The supersonic plane was retired 20 years ago, he noted, and one of them is on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Maryland unit.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Gilmer produced many Air Force heroes

Huge air show to honor vets Fly-overs, vintage military vehicles, part of celebration

A great Air Show and Fly-Over will be held this Saturday, the weekend before official Veterans' Day observances across the U.S. and around the world On Nov. 11," said Steve Dean, organizer of the event.

The Air Show will honor the nation's veterans, with Lt. Col. Phillip V. Maywald, G.H.S. '59, U.S. Air Force Academy '63, being a special guest.

Maywald received the Air Force Cross for actions taken to help rescue a fellow Forward Air Controller when he was downed in southern Laos in May 1967.

The tenth annual family-oriented patriotic event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fox Stephens Field/Gilmer Municipal Airport, located on U.S. 271 South in Gilmer. Admission for the show is free and gates will open at 9 a.m.

Gilmer's Fox Stephens Field is named in honor of USAF Col. Robert L. "Silver Fox" Stephens. Stephens served as the test director and chief test pilot for the super-secret SR-71 Blackbird at Edwards AFB, Calif. during the 1960s.


Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Huge air show to honor vets Fly overs vintage military vehicles part of celebration

Fly-in highlights airport benefits

Enjoying clear, blue skies and a relatively warm January day 50 pilots and their passengers flew in to Fox Stephens Field Saturday to enjoy a day together.

Escaping the security restrictions of flying in the Metroplex, pilots could drop in at Gilmer, enjoy a hot dog and conversation and pop back into the air.

While 35 planes where on the ground during the lunch hour, others came and went throughout the day.

Among the feature attractions was Scott Glover's Travel Air.

Glover wore a period-style sweater and cap as he flew Young Eagles around Gilmer.

Another unusual airplane was a Yakovlev YAK-52, a primary trainer for the Soviet Air Force. The particular plane which came to the fly-in entered service in 1980. Chris and Kathryn Keating came from McKinney in the 2-seater.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Fly in highlights airport benefits

Super Sabre Museum may be coming here

Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum President Steve Dean hopes that a museum will be coming to Fox Stephens Field, the Gilmer airport.

He said the Super Sabre Society had contacted him last fall "to get the ball rolling on an idea to have the Super Sabre Museum here in Gilmer as part of the Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum."

He said that thus far there has been an agreement between the City of Gilmer, the Gilmer Airport Advisory Board, the FOTPAM, and the Friends of the Super Sabre to move forward with the project.

"The airport advisory board approved the site at Fox Stephens Field where we plan to locate the out door display," Dean said.

He said he had discussed with others the possibility of the museum obtaining additional staff, curatorial, and restoration space in the vacant work space joining the north end of the JL Aero maintenance shop. The building is owned by the Gilmer Industrial Foundation.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Super Sabre Museum may be coming here

Sideglances

THE SEVENTH ANNUAL Airshow to be sponsored here by Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum - this year as a Veterans Day tribute - held many delights for aviation buffs.

The event at Gilmer's Fox Stephens Field had such treats as World War II standouts - two P-51 Mustang fighter planes, a B-25 bomber and a Navy DC-3 transport. These were available for close inspection on the ground, and of course there was a variety of other planes featured in flyovers.

To me the most unexpected participant was one of the classic autos that paraded out to the tarmac near the reviewing stand.

This was a 1926 Rolls Royce that had been converted into an "estate car" with wood panel sides that, in this country, would make it a station wagon.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Sideglances

Former Gilmer resident Lt. Col. Phil Maywald, USAF ret., will be the honored guest at the 10th annual Veterans Day Open House Barnstormer Fly-In Warbird Airmeet at Fox Stephens Field on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Along with Maywald, veterans of the Vietnam War era will be honored.

Admission to the event is free.

Ceremonies will begin with a reception at the terminal building followed by a mini parade of classic military vehicles at 11:30 a.m.

Following the parade, T-34s, Stearmans and T-6s will fly in formations.

At 1 p.m., the A-10 Warthogs are to fly over, followed by the B-52.

The veterans' tribute program will be between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. with the Gilmer High School band and Air Force Jr. ROTC programs participating. The International ALERT Academy Big Sandy will also join in the flag ceremonies.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Lt Col Phil Maywald to be honored guest at Airmeet

Annual patriotic celebration to be held on Friday night, July 3

A special air show and fireworks program is on tap for Gilmer and East Texas July 3, according to Steve Dean of the Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum.

The fly-by featuring a pair of T-38/F5 aircraft will honor Col. Fox Stephens, a Gilmer native, who commanded the aviation team responsible for creating the SR-71 Blackbird. Fox set world records for speed and altitude in the aircraft.

The fly-past in the Black T-38/F-5 Aircraft at 8:14 p.m. is to signify the Skunk Works Stealth Fighter Initiative, the genesis of which was the SR-71 Blackbird.

On May 1, 1965, the SR-71 set a speed record of 2,070 miles per hour and an altitude record of more than 80,000 feet.

Gilmer's airport was renamed Fox Stephens Field in 2000 to honor the colonel.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Annual patriotic celebration to be held on Friday night July 3

Air show, fireworks to honor hometown hero Billy Machen

A Brookshire's-sponsored Air Show will precede a musical presentation and Independence Day fireworks celebration on Thursday night, July 3, at Buckeye Stadium.

Admission is free for seating on the stadium's east (visitors') side, and a concession stand will be open, but the air show can be seen from almost any vantage point in west Gilmer.

The 8:30 p.m. aerial program. jointly presented by the supermarket chain and the local Flight of the Phoenix Museum, will feature "Team FENIX." It will honor one of America's most highly honored Navy Seals, Chief Petty Officer Billy Machen of Gilmer, the first Seal killed in action in the Vietnam War.

Following the air show, Dr. Phil and Road Kill Hill Productions will present a musical tribute to "The Greatest Generation"-World War II veterans, and the recent 70th anniversary of D-Day. Sirius XM Radio created the music program.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Air show fireworks to honor hometown hero Billy Machen

Candy event highlights Airlift

Wednesday, as the day turned from sunny to cloudy, Jeff Rash and other members of the Gilmer Independent District School Board read to students of the third grade at Gilmer Elementary School.

Rash read to the students about Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, a true story about a little girl the age of the students getting candy from a U.S. Air Force pilot during the Berlin Blockade.

"Life was grim in 1948 West Berlin, Germany. Josef Stalin blockaded all ground routes coming in and out of Berlin to cut off West Berliners from all food and essential supplies. Without outside help, over 2.2 million people would die.

"Thus began the Berlin Airlift, a humanitarian rescue mission that utilized British and American airplanes and pilots to fly in needed supplies," read an online review of the book.

While the planes flew essential elements to the city to keep it function, coal for the furnaces to keep people warm, food, blankets, water and even light-weight rice paper so the newspaper could help keep up morale, students gathered on the rubble around Tempelhof Airdrome watching the silver birds, which only three years earlier were destroying their city with bombs and were now saving their lives.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Candy event highlights Airlift

Steve Dean, Aviator, Speaks to Pi Nu Sorority

Capt. (Ret.) Steve Dean, Flight of the Phoenix Museum and a retired Air Force pilot, was the speaker Sept. 23 at the Beta Sigma Phi's Pi Nu Chapter at Hadden's. Focal point of the presentation was a replica of the Lockheed SR71 flown by Gilmer native, Col. Bobby "Fox" Stephens, one of America's foremost test pilots who broke the long-time Soviet speed and altitude record in 1965.

Dean, a patriot with a passion for flying, stated, "My love of flying came from pilots and military enthusiasts from Gilmer like Col. Stephens and my Sunday School teacher, Jack Tillery."

He and his wife founded the museum in 1990 at Fox Stephens Field to preserve aviation history, acknowledge veterans, and to promote citizenship and patriotism. One goal is to acknowledge Gilmer natives with significant roles in the military.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Steve Dean Aviator Speaks to Pi Nu Sorority

Ike's Air Force One-type plane joins air museum collection

An Aero Commander 685 arrived at Fox Stephens Field at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, fresh from Cheyenne, Wy., where Harold "Chris" Christensen had ridden with Steve Dean to teach the new owner some of the quirks of the latest additon to the Flight of the Phoenix Museum at the Gilmer airport.

A deputation of Chamber of Commerce representatives, including president Miriam Hill and museum members and friends, greeted the new arrivals.

"When the new Aero Commander settles in at Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum, our little Air Force One will be one of only two examples flying in the US that will campaign at various public events throughout the Southwest, promoting Gilmer and the mission of Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum," Dean said.

Dean is making reference to the plane used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on short hauls, such as to Camp David when he was in office 1952 to 1960. Dean previously had acquired a red-and-white Aero Commander, but it could no longer be flown because of a lack of available parts.


Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Ike s Air Force One type plane joins air museum collection

TEAM FENIX Independence Day Air Show in conjunction with the East Texas Yamboree Community Fireworks program is one of East Texas' favorite midsummer events. It is truly a top shelf attraction for Gilmer's citizens and visitors. Unique because of its universal appeal to all ages, the Airshow combines Patriotism, American History, Community Spirit, and the Sheer Excitement of Flight, all in one great venue at Gilmer's Buckeye Stadium.

The aerial salute to veterans is made possible through by the financial backing of Brookshire's grocery company, an East Texas family owned business that supports worthy community events.

As museum director and one of the pilots flying in the show, I have personally had hundreds of local residents express their excitement and their appreciation for the 2013 show. They can't wait to tell me how it was the best ever......and I definitely agree. The real thanks goes to Brookshire's, to local store director Damon Nichols, and to the Gilmer store associates who enthusiastically got behind the preparations for the successful event.

Past Yamboree Presidents Randy Hill and Phil Fowler had the vision to get the community fireworks program off the ground with backing of the Yamboree Board of Directors. The patriotic aerial demonstration provided by Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum as the evening's opening act expanded the fireworks program into a full evening of family entertainment. The airshow is made possible by the direct sponsorship of Brookshires.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Aviation Museum praises Brookshire s for Airshow support

Gilmer Air Force Colonel: History in the Making at Barksdale Air Force Base

On Monday June 24, another chapter in Air Force history was sealed with the closing of the 917th Fighter Group, and relocation of the 47th Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets from Barksdale AFB, La., to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.

The move, a fallout from the budget cutbacks in the military, signals the end of a 33 year tour of duty for the venerable Warthog Fighter at the Shreveport base.....along with the loss of hundreds of jobs filled by Air Force reservists from East Texas and the area.

Fighter Group Commander John Breazeale from Gilmer and the entire contingent of 917th airmen along with spouses, children, and guests from all over the Ark-La-Tex region bid farewell to the jets in a solemn ceremony where Col. Breazeale reviewed the stellar history of 917th personnel over the years.....literally from the beginnings of the 917th in 1963.

The Mayor of Bossier City, Shreveport-Bossier Military Affairs Council, 8th Air Force Commander, Global Strike Command Commander, 2nd Bomb Wing Commander, and several retired former group commanders were in the audience.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Gilmer Air Force Colonel History in the Making at Barksdale Air Force Base

Jeep to be restored at NTCC

Gilmer's Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum is sending its M725 Military Jeep Ambulance to College.

Well, that is, to Northeast Texas Community College at Mt. Pleasant this semester for paint and body restoration. The Carroll Shelby Automotive Technology Program has entered a joint venture with the Museum to allow students in the paint and body department to use the ambulance as a hands-on training project.

The museum is seeking four or five volunteers who can spend one day a week working with, supervising, and mentoring the students at the college.

Ken Williams, department director and teacher of the program, recommended that a museum volunteer be on hand daily to provide adult leadership for the students.

Here's what Williams had to say about the project: "The value of a museum volunteer being here is that they bring a level of interest in the vehicle that you just can't get from an 18-year-old. We will have maybe six or so students on your vehicle at one time, while the rest of the students will be doing other projects.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Jeep to be restored at NTCC

Flyover honors late Ensign Mack Dean

This Saturday (March 26) Gilmer's Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum vintage military formation team, Flight of the Phoenix Escadrille,

http://flightofthephoenix.org/docs/fotpam_EscadrilleFlyer.pdf, will provide the ceremonial flyover at a Medal of Honor program in Gladewater. Escadrille pilots are Steve Dean of Gilmer and Carl Best of Plano.

Two combat veteran pilots from the Korean War and the Vietnam War will fly as co-pilots this Saturday with the Escadrille.

Korean War veteran Bill Pate of Gilmer was a U.S. Navy ensign flying combat missions over North and South Korea in the Navy's AD Skyraiders from the aircraft carrier Boxer and later the Bon Homme Richard.

Col. John Dalton, USAF retired, now residing in Longview, was a B-52 aircraft commander in 361 airstrike missions over South and North Vietnam. Both of these men are combat-decorated war veterans and they are proud to be participate in the Medal of Honor Ceremony, Steve Dean said.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Flyover honors late Ensign Mack Dean

Rare warbirds appear in Gilmer

The Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum is holding its Veterans' Gala, in honor of all who served their country and their relatives, today (Nov. 13) at Fox Stephens Field-Gilmer Municipal Airport.

The Texas V-Tails will lead off the aerial tributes at 1 p.m., flying over the airport in salute to the veterans and landing to display their aircraft.

The V-tails are organized by Wayne Collins of Mineola. They fly out of Wood County Airport. In recent years the V-Tails have become famous for their huge formations of Beechcraft Bonanza Aircraft flying into the annual Oshkosh Fly- In all in the same massive formation.

There will be several unique, one of a kind antique aircraft on the tarmac and inside the museum in Gilmer, said Steve Dean, president of the museum and coordinator for today's event.

"Come early and stick around...'cause you won't want to miss any of these wonderful examples of aircraft that helped forge our military machine into a formidable force for freedom," said Dean.

Kent Chipman from Hallsville will patrol the tarmac portraying the finest of U.S. Army MPs in WW II astride his immacutely restored WW II Harley Davidson Military Motorcycle.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Rare warbirds appear in Gilmer

Dean, old training plane, reunited

A T-37 Tweety Bird Air Force Jet Trainer arrived recently in Gilmer from Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls. Prior to being based at Sheppard AFB, it served at Reese AFB in Lubbock.

After Steve Dean of Gilmer, owner of the Flight of the Phoenix aircraft museum at Gilmer Airport, learned the "tail number" of this airframe, he researched his pilot log books, and found the same "tail number" listed as one of the planes he had flown as an Air Force student pilot in 1964 at Reese AFB in Lubbock.

Dean said he is eager to talk to Lt. Col. John Breazeale about the bird, because Breazeale most likely logged training flights in this same aircraft when he was an Air Force student pilot at Sheppard AFB, some 20 years after Dean flew it.

The T-37 will be officially welcomed to the FOTPAM display on Saturday, May 15, at the Armed Forces Day Museum Open House and Warbird Fly-In.

The following news release about the plane was sent out by the Air Force News Service last July 31:

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Dean old training plane reunited

Fly-In, Airmeet scheduled for Fox Stephens Field

"Fox Stephens Field and the Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum are thrilled to bring extremely rare and uniquely historical aircraft to East Texas to celebrate Veterans' Day on Saturday, Nov. 7, the weekend before official Veterans' Day observances across the U.S. and around the world," said Steve Dean, organizer of the event.

The tenth annual family-oriented patriotic event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fox Stephens Field, located on U.S. 271 South in Gilmer. Admission for the show is free and gates will open at 9 a.m.

Gilmer's Fox Stephens Field is named in honor of USAF Col. Robert L. "Silver Fox" Stephens. Stephens served as the test director and chief test pilot for the super-secret SR-71 Blackbird at Edwards AFB, Calif. during the 1960s.

Stephens is an honoree at the Test Pilot's Walk of Honor at Lancaster, Calif. and has a street at Edwards AFB, Calif. named for him.

Produced by Lockheed's Skunk Works, the Blackbird was the first stealthy aircraft produced by Lockheed.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Fly In Airmeet scheduled for Fox Stephens Field

Air Power: Veterans show major success

The Flight of the Phoenix Airshow Saturday was an outstanding success, declared organizer Steve Dean.

"We were blessed by wonderful weather. Attendance was a record high," Dean said. "I saw smiles in the eyes of the veterans we honored."

He said that in preparation for the show, some of his group's T-6 pilots had an opportunity to fly with WASP women pilots from World War II.

"After the flight, one of our pilots commented: The opportunity we had today will probably never happen again and will be benchmarked as one of the greatest highlights in my aviation career," Dean said.

"I had a great time flying from Sweetwater back to Ft. Worth, when Steve dove down and pulled up for a big roll, my WASP went crazy!" the pilot said. "From that point on it was Katy Bar The Door (it felt like we just went to the bar together, had a few toddies and everyone loosened up)-she said 'let's do a roll, then a slow roll, then a 4-point roll, then a chandelle, then a lazy 8, etc.' It was like flying with a 20-year-old in an 86-year-old body. We had the best time you can have."

Dean said he heard shrieks of delight from the youngsters who were thrilled at the sight and sound and smell of the performing planes.


Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Air Power Veterans show major success

Perfect Airshow expected Saturday

"The weatherman promises to make our dreams come true Saturday with blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and moderate temperatures at Fox Stephens Field on Hiway 271 South in Gilmer as the 7th Annual Veterans Day Airshow takes wings," said event organizer Steve Dean.

Record crowds are expected to turn out for this popular family event. Admission is free. A donation of $10 per carload for parking is encouraged and appreciated. Come early. There is plenty of parking, with both handicap and special needs parking available.

Gilmer Mayor Buck Cross, the City Council, and City of Gilmer Staff will begin Saturday's program with a coffee reception at the Gilmer Airport Terminal for veterans and their families.

The reception is open to all show visitors and all are urged to drop by and say hello.

There will be a mini parade of military and classic vehicles from the terminal out to the tarmac where the veterans will pass in review as Mayor Cross, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), State Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), and Col. James Marks from the 47th Fighter Squadron salute the veterans.

A-10 Warthogs from the 47th Fighter Squadron will kick things off at 11 a.m. as they make their fly-overs for the Veterans Tribute Program beginning promptly at 11 a.m.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Perfect Airshow expected Saturday

Three solo performers top the marquee for Nov. 1 Airshow

"Fox Stephens Field and the Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum are thrilled to offer the top three Airshow performers for our show on Saturday, Nov. 1" said show organizer Steve Dean.

Admission for the show is free. Donations for parking are optional and encouraged at $10 per car load. Gates open at 9 a.m. Parking for handicap and special needs will be available. Just advise the parking attendant when you arrive and you will be directed to special parking.

Returning to Gilmer for his third airshow appearance is Jan Collmer in the Fina 300 Extra.

Collmer received pilot training in the US Navy at Pensacola and Corpus Christi. He flew the Banshee, Panther, Cougar, Fury, and F-8 Crusader during his fighter pilot career of active and reserve, retiring as a Navy Lieutenant Commander. Jan is a civic leader in Dallas, serving on the University of Dallas Board of Trustees and past-chairman of the DFW Airport Board.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror - Three solo performers top the marquee for Nov 1 Airshow