USAF PILOT TRAINING CLASS
55-I ASSOCIATION
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USAF PILOT TRAINING CLASS 55-INDIA

Welcome to the Official Web Page of USAF Pilot Training Class 55-India!

    We are a group of USAF veterans who went into pilot training in the 1950’s, ending our training on February 24, 1955.  The aircraft pictured here are some of the planes we flew during our primary and basic training.
    We all started in the Piper Super Cub, the PA-18.  After about 20 hours in the Super Cub, we progressed to the North American T-6G, a World War II vintage trainer. Our primary training was conducted by civilian flight schools, and we were based at several sites for this phase: Malden, Missouri; Marianna, Florida; and Columbus, Mississippi.
     Graduates from primary spread to several different bases for what was known as “Basic Training.”  Students were divided in those days into two groups: Single Engine Jet, and Multi-engine.  This was near the beginning of the Jet Age, and those of us assigned to Single Engine Jets went to Greenville AFB, Greenville, Mississippi; Webb AFB, Big Spring, Texas; and Williams AFB, Chandler (near Phoenix), Arizona.  6 Pilots went from Greenville to Laredo AFB, Texas to complete training.  The aircraft we flew were the piston-engine North American T-28A, followed by the venerable Lockheed T-33A. The “T Bird” was an outgrowth of the P/F-80 “Shooting Star,” the first operational jet fighter used by the USAF.
    Multi-engine students went to Vance AFB, Enid Oklahoma, and Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas.  Multi students also started basic in the T-28 then did their multi-engine training in the twin engine World War II medium Bomber, the North American B-25 Mitchell (the same airplane used by Doolittle’s Raiders).
    After primary and basic training, the class scattered to the winds and the four corners of the world. We did not meet again as a group until October of 1998, when we held our first reunion, attended by nearly 90 members of the original class.
    In the intervening years, our members flew just about every aircraft in the USAF inventory, not to mention some Navy and NATO types. A large percentage of the class stayed in the service as a career, and most served at least one tour in Vietnam. We lost many members over the years in airplane crashes; eight of our members were KIA in Vietnam, two were POWs, and four attained the rank of General (2 one- star, 1 two-stars, and 1 four-stars). Our numbers diminish now due to the ravages of time, but we get together now and then to relive those days of youth and glory.
    The period of training was definitive in most of our lives: it was a turning point, a place where we started on a great lifetime adventure that now has faded into distant but distinct and cherished memories. We have a bond that cannot be broken; we are well into the “Golden Years” but all that falls away at our reunions, when we are once again young, brave, handsome, and “The Best Damned Pilots In The World.”


In Primary Pilot Training
All Pilots began with the Piper Super Cub PA-18 above

We then tested our skill in the T-6 Texan


 

Those who graduated from Primary Pilot Training advanced to Basic Flight Training
Pilots chose either single-engine or multi-engine training.

Both single-engine and multi-engine pilots flew the T-28 in Basic Flight Training

We learned the basics of formation flying in the T-28


Multi-engine pilots then flew the B-25 shown below


 


 
 
 


The pilots who chose single-engine training first flew the T-28 and then
the T-33 aircraft shown below


 
 

 

 

Four beautiful T-33s on a beautiful day

 

Association Officers

 

President & Treasurer-  Ron Weinert 

Vice President-  Carl “Chet” Rawie 

Vice President-  Edd G. Barnes 

Secretary -  Robert Klimek Jr. 

 

 

Association Committees

Membership Roster & Website-  Darrell Schmidt

Snail-mail - “Toni” Pyatt

 


(Me)
Darrell Schmidt

 

Harvey Kimsey's ceremony date- is:- 26 January at 13:00 hrs, Arlington Natl Cemetery. Plan to attend and throw the nickel on the grass - for one of our great fighter jocks.

Major General Thomas William Sawyer, USAF Ret., 83, a resident of Fort Myers, FL since 2000, formerly of Colorado Springs, CO, passed away Sunday, September 3, 2017 in Fort Myers.

 

Darrell 

I wanted to make you aware of the passing of my father, Ken Gero.  He passed suddenly on 9-24-17.  While going through. His office files, I found the 55-I Association info and remembered my dad telling me all about the reunions he attend.  He really enjoyed getting together with his flying pals!  Thanks for giving him those memories!

Sincerely 

Keith Gero 

kwgero1@gmail.com

314-359-8121 Mobile

 

REUNIONS

 

We have had ten reunions to date, in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. They have been great get-togethers, swapping old stories and reviving old memories.

I have uploaded videos of some the reunions to YouTube.  You can view them by clicking on the appropriate link below. While you are viewing them you may see a little window open with an ad.  Just click on the X in the upper right corner of the ad and it will disappear.  (but don't click the X in the upper right corner of the video as that will close out the whole video.)  The videos may pause while loading more data and that will depend on your internet connection speed.  If you wish you can view them full screen by clicking on the window icon at the lower right of the video.  The screen will go dark for a small amount of time while it changes to full screen.  Background music will play during the video so have your sound on.  At the end of each video click on the back arrow to return to this web page.  Note that if you had changed to full screen you have to hit the Esc key to return to smaller screen size so you can see the back arrow.   If you just close out the YouTube video you will probably have to reopen our web site to continue.

 

1998 Laughlin Reunion

 

2000 Colorado Springs Reunion

 

2003 Fort Walton Beach Reunion

 

2005 San Antonio Reunion

 

2007 Albuquerque Reunion

 

2009 DCA (Washington) Reunion

 

2011 DAY (Dayton, OH) Reunion

 

Many of the pictures in both the videos above and the .jpgs below were taken by

Russ Rickard and his sons, David & Mark.  We should all thank them for their efforts.

 

[More reunion pictures are on links below.  Several of them are more than one page.

Look at the bottom left of the border and you can click on additional pages.

When you're finished use the back arrow at the top left to return to our web site.]

 

Albuquerque Pictures

(Most by Dick Arnold)  2 pages

 

Albuquerque Pictures (More)

These by Bev Janson) 3 pages

 

DCA Pictures (2009)

 

DCA Pictures(More)

 

Dayton Pictures (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

55-I REUNION 2017

 

Our 2017 reunion took place as scheduled at the Tuscany Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on May 23d through May 25th.  We had 27 people in attendance which included 12 classmates and families.  An excellent time was had by all.  Since it was a rather small group we all stuck together in the hospitality room and mostly ate together and played together.

 

Since our group size is dwindling rapidly we decided not to try to set up a reunion for 2019.  When that time approaches we will try to find out how many are still interested in another reunion and take it from there.  Here are the people who attended:

Ron Weinert

Chet and Carolyn Rawie

Jerry Larson

Howard Crites and Marge

Toni Pyatt

Darrell Schmidt

Ray Nasypany and Shiuvaun

Bob Klimek and Lucia Casale

Neil and Audry Young (Klimek's folks)

Ben and Basak Brown

Russ Rickard and Mary Ann

Mark Rickard

David Rickard (I forget which wife was there, but her name was Shelia Maybe Mark was the cook.  If   so     Shelia was his wife.)

Rex Lawson and Mardell

Vic Fagalan and Alice

Dave and Effie Bidelman

 

 

Since our active membership is declining, your Class “wheels” have decided to quit paying for our current home page...especially since hardly anyone visits it anymore.  To provide us all with the means to converse online I have established a group in FaceBook for us.  The name of our group is

“Air Force Pilot Class 55-I”.  I have chosen to make it a “secret” group, which requires you to be invited.  That way I can publish things like our current class roster which we’d not want strangers to view.  First of all you must go to FaceBook and establish an account there.  https://www.facebook.com/  It’s free.  Then send me an email advising me that you are on FaceBook now and let me know what email address you listed there.   I will then use that email address to send you an “invite” to our FaceBook group.  You need only to click on the link in your invite to go there. 

 

Once you’re there you can make that a “favorite” page so you can find it again easily or, if you wish, highlight that URL line and copy it. (ctrl-C)  In Windows you can right click your desktop and choose New..Shortcut..now paste that URL there (Ctrl-V),  and give it a name you will remember.  Then you just double click that shortcut to go directly to our 55-I group.  I’m not an Apple guy so those of you using Apple will have to experiment on how to do it in that mode.

 

If, after joining our group you wish to go again to our group on your own.  On the left side of the FaceBook page under EXPLORE you will see GROUPS.  Click on GROUPS and a new page will open for all the groups.  It would take lots of searching to find our group “Air Force Pilot Class 55-I”.  But at the top of the page you’ll see an entry for Search FaceBook.  You only need to type in 55-I and it will then show you our group and you can enter it. 

 

As always your fearless computer nut (me) stands by to give you any help you might need.

 

Darrell R. Schmidt

 

 

 

55-I Airplane Pictures

55-I People Pictures

USAF Museum

 

(Interactive display.  Click on the MAP in the upper right hand corner to bring down a visual menu of the different sites within the museum, then click on a dot within that site to view the exhibits from that camera angle and then follow (click on) the arrows. You can run your mouse over the aircraft and it can tell you what it is and in some cases you can click it and find out even more on the plane. Clicking the button with 4 arrows coming in from the corners puts you into full screen mode. "Esc" will bring you back. WARNING: Time flies when you get immersed in this tour!)

 

 

 

  

 

 55-I Notam #7 (old but has good content)  

(Use back arrow to return)

 


 New Guestbook

Don't be confused by the line asking for web site address:

That is only if you maintain your own web site and want to list it.

 

NOTE:  the older guest books below require you to click on open when a page appears.

 

OLD Guest book

(2006-2012) Have patience, it will take a minute to load.

 

Read Older Guestbook

 

[Most recent edit is 28 November, 2017]

 

My B-58 Hustler Web Site

(If you should visit this web site sign the Guest Book there, too)

Aviation Cadet Web Site

 

 


 

55-I Pilots who attended the Laughlin, NV Reunion in 1998


 

55-I Pilots who attended the Colorado Springs Reunion in 2000

 

(Note: the rows are a little off due to the many steps that we’re standing on)

 

Front Row: Howard Crites, Ben Brown, Jim Monk, Russ Rickard

2nd Row: Warren Green, x, Ed Unser, Dick Wyatt, Darrell Schmidt

3rd Row: John Burnett, Harvey Kimsey, Dick Blair, Bob Klimeck, x, Ron Weinert, Hans Terpstra

4th Row: Ron Atwood, Pete Chinburg, Gene Cox, John Owens

5th Row: Ray Nasypany, Joe Sperhac, Lee Wolfe, Kozy Korzan, Dale Dyson,    Pete Zuras, Jim Hicks, Jay Hess

6th Row: Dave Bidleman, Wayne Wootten

 

Pilots at DCA, 2009



 

FORTWALTONBEACH 2003ATTENDEES 
(Note: No group picture was taken but we have a picture of our Hospitality “shack” below)

Dick and Susan Arnold, Edd and Linda Barnes, Eldon (Barney) and Joan Barnes, Merle and Yvonne Bechthold, Don and Nancy Blair, George Bracke, Ben and Basak Brown, John and Jetta Burnett, Whee and Ginny Cameron, Pete and Ellen Chinberg, Bill and Phyllis Edwards. Ron Frink. Don Gierard, Warren and Grace Green, Don and Carol Hamm, Chuck Hoggatt, Hoyt and Betty Hook, Glenn and Beverly Janson. Ralph (Bud) and Mae Jensen and Daughter, Merlyn (Bud)  Johnson, Ed Kane, Harvey Kimsey, Bob and Lucia KlimekDarold (Kozy) and Holly Korzan, Armand (Skip) and   Jeanne LaRocque,  Ramon and Nona Lefevre, Bill and Suzie Lessard, Chuck and Pat Mielke, Jim and Shirley Monk,  Steve O’Brien, John and Gwen Owens, Phil Phillips and Evelyn, RasRastall, Chet Rawie, Russ and Mary Anne Rickard, George Rowcliffe, Tom and Faith Sawyer, Darrell Schmidt, Marvin Skeen, Joe Sperhac, Bill Sturts, Ed Unser, Ron Weinert and Ruth Jordan, John Whipple, Bob and Anne Willis, Lee and Jan Wolfe, Wayne and Doris Wootton, Pete and Jo Ann Zuras



 


IN MEMORY OF OUR CLASSMATES WHO HAVE MADE THE FINAL FLIGHT WEST

 

 

FLYING WEST

 

I hope there's a place, way up in the sky,
Where pilots can go, when they have to die-
A place where a guy can go and buy a cold beer
For a friend and comrade, whose memory is dear;
A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread,
Nor management type would ere be caught dead;
Just a quaint little place, kinda dark and full of smoke,
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke;
The kind of place where a lady could go
And feel safe and protected, by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old pilots go,
When their paining is finished, and their airspeed gets low,
Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young,
And the songs about flying and dying are sung,
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before.
And they'd call out your name, as you came through the door;
Who would buy you a drink if your thirst should be bad,
And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"

And then through the mist, you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen for years, though he taught you to fly.
He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear,
And say, "Welcome, my son, I'm pleased that you're here.
"For this is the place where true flyers come,
"When the journey is over, and the war has been won
"They've come here at last to be safe and alone
From the government clerk and the management clone,
"Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise
Where the hours are happy, and these good ol' boys
"Can relax with a cool one, and a well-deserved rest;
"This is Heaven, my son -- you've passed your last test!"

 


 

55-I Deceased Classmates

 

 Adkisson, Robert B.

 Alexander, Billy G.

 Alitz, Laverne W. 
 Alper, Zeki 

 Archer, Frances E.

 Armstrong, Edwin A
 Armstrong, Frank Alton III

 Augustus, Micheal 

 Ayudin, Umit 
 Bane, Robert L.

 Barnes, Eldon 
 Barry, William R. 
 Bartley, John P. 

 Bechtold, Merle A.
 Bell Jr., James A. 

 Belson, Joseph E.

 Biagioni, Guido

 Birmingham, Herbert T. 
 Boatman, Tom 

 Bohn, Warren R.
 Bond, Jerome H. 

 Bondurant, James A.  
 Bose, Wesley C. 
 Bostrom, Frank (Pete) P. 
 Boutet, Edward 
 Breish, Harold A.

 Briley, James R. 
 Brooks, William L. 
 Brown, Robert A. 
 Buckley Jr., Paul R.

 Buckey, Richard B.

 Burleson,  Donald R, (Ray)
 Cade, John Drew 
 Campbell, Stanley C.

 Cameron, Whee 

 Carothers, Vance J.
 Choquette, Clayton J. 
 Christensen, John A. 
 Ciccarelli, Quirino 
 Clark, William A.

 Clem, Sanford P. 
 Colburn Jr., Earl A.

 Colvin, Wayne

 Corcoran, Charles H.

 Corbin, Neal H. 

 Cramer, Leonard W. 

 Cuccinello, James G.

 Dean, Scott E

 Devanney, Michael J.

 Devoe, Garner

 Dohogne, James

 Duncan, John H. 

 Dupont, Holbrook B. 

 Durst, William R.
 Echenique, Francis D. 
 Edson, Donald G.

 Edwards, William B. 
 Elliot, Robert M. 

 Ellwanger, Robert S.

 Fletcher, William H.
 Flower Jr., Donald J.

 Fontenot, Alvin R. 

 Ford, Clyde M.
 Ford Jr., Charles F.

 Foster, Lemuel E. 
 Frisch, Jerome A.

 Gearon, Joseph M. Jr.  

 George , Robert A.

 Gimenez, Manuel Jr.

 Glasheen, Daniel
 Goeltz, Francis S. 
 Goode, Thomas W.

 Goss, Richard D  

 Green, Franklin C. 
 Haff, David C.

 Halbach, Eugene (Smokey)

 Hamm, Donald P. 

 Hanks, Paul T.

 Hansen, Tage Bolt

 Hardin, Marion S. 
 Hart, Edward 

 Hartley, Roger D.

 Hedeen, Robert L.

 Heisley, Don W. 

 Hines, Prince Nolan Sr

 Hitchcock, Center

 Hoggatt, Charles V.

 Jensen, Jens P. 

 Jensen, Orla Holm

 
 

 Johns, Paul F.

 Johnson, Merlyn (Bud)

 Kane, Edward 

 Kelley, Vernon B.

 Kimsey, Harvey

 Kjos, Neil A. Jr.
 Kirkpatrick, Lowell R. 
 Koyn, Daniel W.

 Laguzzi,  Silvio

 Lambeth, William J.

 Larsen, Ole Ronald
 Locke  Jr., Alexander 

 Loeffler, Fred

 Madsen, Erik S.

 Madsen, Johannes A.

 Matthews, William H.
 Maxwell, Samuel C. 
 McBeth, Orrin L. 

 McDonald, Jerry  L.

 McHardy, Earl 
 Michaels, Donald L.

 Mielke, Charles L. Sr.

 Miller, Julian 

 Miller, Robert J.

 Mohrs, Paul A.

 Monk, James G.  
 Monroe, Don R. 

 Montalvo, Sanbenito, B

 Morton, Norman E.
 Moyer, Larry E. 
 Mueller, Don F.

 Nelson, Don L.

 Nelson, Stanley F.

 Nohl, Louis E. Jr.

 Norris, Robert G. 
 Nuss, Charles H.

 Orban, Richard L. 
 Orth, Donald N. 

 Owens, John E.

 Pease, Aldridge H.  
 Parker Jr., Dewey C. 

 Paoletti, Mario
 Pehrsson, Robert R. 
 Petersen, Richard S. 
 Petersen  Jr., George H. 

 Philipski, Robert F.

 Pinell, Richard D.
 Pitstick, William F.

 Pyatt, Robert C. 

 Rogers, James K.
 Rowcliffe, George S.

 Saporito, Joseph W.

 Sawyer, Thomas W.  
 Schmitt, Charles G. 
 Schroeder, Aaron R

 Simpson, Richard O.

 Sligh, Charles H.

 Smead, Jerry S.

 Smith, Harold Victor 
 Snowden, Wendell

 Staggs, Glenn 
 Stephens, Billy 
 Stuart, Virgil C.

 Sturts, William M.

 Terling, Christian

 Thompson, Wayne H.
 Topcu, Mehmet 

 Valgaeren, Georges F.
 Van Heusen, George 
 VanRee, Harold G.

 Van de Velde, Marcel

 Van Winkle, Thomas R. Jr.

 Veschini, Oscar 
 Vesser, Samuel F. 
 Walker, William O.

 Wallick, Jesse

 Ward, George T. 

 Weatherwax, John J.

 Whipple, John D.  
 Wickard, Jack D. 
 Willig, Eugene 

 Windom, Charles

 Womble, Floyd A.   
 Wood, Larry 

 Wooton, Wayne F.
 Zell, Kenneth

 Zobrack, Marcel J.

REST IN PEACE!