Larry Dale


Larry Dale was born in 1924 in Island Pond, Vermont. Island Pond is still a small community in northeastern Vermont and one does not have an opportunity to see many airplanes flying overhead. This was especially true in the late 1920s. But it was the over flight of those aircraft that stirred Larry Dale’s heart and eventually led to a love of everything with wings.

His education was interrupted by World War II when he was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942 where he served as a cameraman assigned to duties as a mapmaker. He later served at the Nuremberg Trials reproducing copies of evidence for participants from many countries.

He returned to civilian life in 1946, completed his education and accepted a job at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory where he worked on analyzing ship signatures to be used for identification and targeting purposes. He also worked in the warhead development section.



Larry had accumulated very little flight time as a youngster, but it was enough to get him firmly entrenched in aviation. In 1949 he bought an Aerocoupe and was soon checked out in it. A year later, Larry and Shirley celebrated the birth of their first child and the Aerocoupe had to go.

Working for the Navy until 1960, Larry accepted a better position with NORAD in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Larry’s heart was still set on aviation and he joined the Ent Aero Club at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs. He was soon checked out in every type of aircraft that they had and received his Private Pilot’s License in 1962.


Well Wishes for Former President

George H.W. BushFormer U.S. President (and Fraternity Active Member No. 10,000) George H. W. Bush has been recuperating in Houston’s Methodist Hospital since Nov. 23 for treatment of a bronchial ailment. Doctors are pleased with his progress but are being cautious and are not ready to send him home. Bush is reported to have said, “No, wouldn’t be prudent.” He and Barbara divide their time between their homes in Houston and Kennebunkport, Maine. Let’s keep them in our prayers. Photo Caption: Bush became a Naval Aviator at the age of 18. Lt.jg George Bush in his TBM Avenger on the carrier USS San Jacinto in 1944 (official US Navy photograph).


Illinois Chapter Leadership Transition

boyle-betzelosPictured at right are newly-elected President Charles Boyle (L) and President Emeritus Steven Betzelos (R) of the Illinois Chapter at a recent meeting. Charlie appreciates Steve’s advice and counsel from his many years leading the Chapter. Charlie is a retired photo-journalist and videographer who enjoyed a career with a major television news network, and witnessed many national and world events. Steve still manages his Betzelos Sunset Insurance Agency in Chicago. (photo by Buck Hilbert)


Evelyn Bryan Johnson “Mama Bird” Flew West at Age 102

Evelyn Bryan JohnsonEvelyn Bryan Johnson, the legendary East Tennessee flight instructor and
designated pilot examiner better known to her many students over the years as “Mama Bird,” passed away on May 10, 2012 after a period of declining health. Evelyn Stone was born in Corbin, KY on Nov. 4, 1909, just six years after the Wright brothers’ first flight. She graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College, and she taught 6th grade for two years. She met Wyatt Jennings Bryan (W.J.) while attending summer school at the University of Tennessee, and they married in 1931. Johnson took up flying during World War II so she would have a hobby while W.J. was away in the Army Air Corps. She took her first flight on Oct. 1, 1944, and soloed on Nov. 8, received her Private Pilot license in June 1945, and Commercial Pilot license in 1946. She became a Certificated Flight Instructor in 1947, and was named a Designated Pilot Examiner in 1952. She later added Air Transport Pilot for Single Engine Land to her license, and seaplane and rotor-craft ratings. In 1958, she was only the 20th female pilot in the world to earn a helicopter license. Mama Bird lovingly kicked more fledgling pilots out of the nest than probably any other instructor. As a pilot of many types of aircraft, including a T-33 jet, she never crashed, she maneuvered out of engine failures twice, and a fire once. Among her many honors, she was named FAA Flight Instructor of the Year in 1979, and was inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002, and into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007. She was a Colonel, and a 62-year member of the Civil Air Patrol, and a founder of their Morristown Composite Squadron. Her interest in helicopters waned after she witnessed a helicopter crash into a power line at the Morristown Airport. The helicopter lifted off the ground only a few feet, then crashed onto the ramp. As smoke poured out, she grabbed a fire extinguisher and crawled under the still turning rotor blades to turn off the ignition. She then emptied the extinguisher on the engine stopping the fire from spreading, and her quick action saved the badly injured pilot. For her bravery and swift action, she was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism. Along the way, she logged 57,635.4 flight hours and administered some 9,000 practical flight tests. In nearly six decades as a flight instructor, she taught more than 5,000 men and women how to fly. On the occasion of her 100th birthday, she said her flight time still qualified her as the highest-time lady pilot, and the highest-time living pilot in the Guinness World Records. Her logged time, equivalent to 6.6 years, is second only to an Alabama man, John Long, Jr., who died in 1999 at the age of 83, who had logged over 65,000 hours checking power lines. Johnson owned Morristown Flying Service for 33 years, and served as manager of the city’s Moore-Murrell Municipal Airport (Morristown Regional Airport) from 1953 until shortly before her death. She served on the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission for 18 years beginning in 1983, and was chairman for four years. She was a member of the “Whirly Girls,” and the Ninety-Nines organization of women pilots chose her as one of the 100 most influential women in America. Johnson was a long-time member of the Silver Wings Fraternity and served 12 years on their Board of Directors. An automobile accident in 2006 cost her part of a leg and pretty much ended her flying, but it did not end her involvement in aviation. She will be missed in aviation, not only in Tennessee, but everywhere her students have gone. She looked after all of her students, and she also did a marvelous job of encouraging women to fly. The new terminal at Moore-Murrell Airport was dedicated to her in May 2011. A bust of Johnson by Laureen Prater Barker, a California sculptor and former student of Johnson, stands just outside the new facility. Mr. Bryan died in 1963, and she married Morgan Johnson in 1965 who died in 1977. She is survived by two grandsons and three great-grandchildren.


A Convention to Remember

If you weren’t in Atlanta, Georgia over October 11-13, you missed one of the best and most exciting Annual Convention/Reunions we have had in years, and we missed you! The Georgia Chapter, under the capable leadership of Chapter President Bill Bell and Convention Co-Chair Bob Krone, put together a great package of tours and other fun activities. His Chapter members were gracious hosts throughout the event, and they provided a most pleasant and educational weekend. It’s incredible what they were able to pack into a few days for the modest registration fee. Once again, we also thank the Sporty’s Foundation and Fraternity Life Member Hal Shevers for their generous support of this Convention and the Fraternity. Most attendees were our Active Members, but we had several Associate Members attending for the first time. The youngest, at age 16, is an aspiring pilot and aeronautical engineer, and he benefited greatly from the tours. On Thursday, we toured the local Lockheed Marietta plant, and we thank Active Members Bob Ormsby, former President of Lockheed Georgia, and Bernie Dvorscak, former Lockheed test pilot (the first to fly the C5B) for arranging this tour. We also enjoyed a welcome reception which was held at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant. Bob “Punchy” Powell regaled everyone with stories of flying the P-51 and other aircraft during World War II while assigned to the 352nd Fighter Group. On Friday we traveled to the Delta Airlines campus at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where we toured their Technical Operations Center (maintenance hangars) and Pilot Training Services complex (flight simulators). We wrapped up the day by touring the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum, opened especially for our group. We are very grateful to Active Members Julian Black and Rob Rogers for arranging this incredible opportunity. Saturday we met at the Atlanta History Center & Swan House where we learned much about the local history, and viewed their extensive Civil War Collection. For lunch, we visited the world-famous Varsity Drive-In, which is a dining experience in itself. That afternoon, most members visited the Atlanta Aquarium, and enjoyed the usual tour plus an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour. We thank Drs. Hugo and Anita Freudenthal, both retired marine biology and life science professors, for arranging this tour. That evening we enjoyed the Keynote Banquet in the hotel with guest speaker and Fraternity Active Member Alan Armstrong who flies the Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” bomber seen in the film “Tora! Tora! Tora!” Alan is a noted Aviation Attorney who represents pilots and other FAA-licensees. Join us at our Annual Convention next October where we will have more exciting tours and guest speakers planned. The location and full details will be announced on this website this Summer.


Announcing the 2012 Convention/Reunion

Join us in Atlanta, Georgia in October for our Annual Convention where we have several exciting tours and guest speakers planned. Tour the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, and Delta’s Facilities and Museum at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the Atlanta History Center & Swan House. (Must be a Fraternity member and US citizen for the Lockheed and Delta tours). Guest Speakers include noted Aviation Attorney Alan Armstrong who flies the Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” bomber seen in the film “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, and LT Robert Powell, famed WWII P-51 pilot of the “Blue-Nosed Bastards of Bodney.” See the Convention Brochure & Registration Form in the Downloads section.


Sun ‘n Fun 2012

At the end of March, several hundred members of the Fraternity, as well as 145,000 other pilots and aviation enthusiasts, met at the 2012 SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo and converted Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport into the busiest airport in North America. A crew of dedicated members volunteered their valuable time to staff the Fraternity’s Cottage for the benefit and enjoyment of all our members from around the U.S. and several foreign countries. We enjoyed visits by Active Members and Aerobatic Performers Corkey Fornof and Julie Clark, and NASA Astronaut Nicole Passanno Stott stopped by and shared her latest adventures with us. Robert Flynn kicked off our Amateur Radio Network by operating a Special Event Station at the Cottage. He and other members spoke with many pilots around the world. Bob had over 60 QSO’s from 26 States and several foreign countries. We pleased the palettes of coffee drinkers with a better cup of Joe provided by the Flying High Coffee Company ( which was started by Active Member Rob Riggen, CFI. Mark your calendars and make plans to visit Sun ‘n Fun and our Cottage, and say hello to everybody, next year from April 9-14, 2013.


Restoring an Old Friend

Gino DiNucci, Certified Aircraft & Powerplant Mechanic and FAA Master Mechanic Award winner, led a team of friends in restoring Walter Crosby’s Piper J-3 Cub at Clearwater Airpark in Clearwater, Florida. Walt was able to see it fly before he passed away in January, 2012. Gino and Walt’s widow Geri received an award for the Cub being judged “Best Classic Aircraft Restoration Under 100 HP” at the 2012 Sun ‘n Fun. All are members of the Silver Wings Fraternity. To read more about this story of love and compassion, visit


Over To You Returns

Captain E. E. “Buck” Hilbert has graciously agreed to write his well-known and respected Over to You column for the Silver Wings Fraternity’s quarterly newsletter, the Slipstream. His first column appeared in the January, 2012 issue, and he shared the story of his teen years as an airport rat and his first solo. Buck graduated from the US Army Aviation Cadets, was fortunate enough to stay in the States through World War II as a Flight Instructor, and was recalled as an Artillery Liaison Pilot for Korea. He lucked into a job with United Airlines starting on the DC-3s in 1952, and retired off the DC-8 after 32 years. Captain Hilbert was a founding member of the Experimental Aircraft Association with member #21, and was the first president of the Antique Aircraft Division of the EAA, now called the Vintage Airplane Association. He wrote a column for the EAA/VAA’s Vintage Airplane magazine for many years. (Feb. 20, 2012)