The coming of the Northrop B-2 to Edwards AFB on 17 July 1989 set into motion a force that would change the base forever. No, it wasn't a revolution in stealth technology or a radical new direction in flight test techniques that it brought. It was far more subtle than that. Some mysterious force (the ghost of the Project Police yet to come?) saw fit to hire into the B-2 Combined Test Force (CTF) three homebuilders. One Wednesday evening in the latter days of the summer of 1991, with the country still flushed with its magnificent victory in Operation DESERT STORM, one maintenance officer and two flight test engineers of the B-2 CTF met at the Edwards Officers Club for free tacos and to discuss their homebuilt airplane projects.
Captain Jim Piavis entertained himself building a Boredom Fighter. Captain Bob Waldmiller was designing his own aerobatic homebuilt, loosely based on the Australian Corby Starlet, to be christened Excalibur. Bob sez there are so many modifications in the design, that the only commonality with the Starlet is "nine control surface hinges." Captain Vern Blomquist was also building an aircraft of his own design, which he humorously named Kiwi, after the flightless bird of New Zealand and shoe polish cans everywhere, because he wasn't even sure if it would get off the ground.
These three EAA'ers started counting up how many people they knew on base who were building airplanes and came up with eight, ranging from a BD-5 to a Glasair II. Well, hey! It only takes ten people to form an EAA Chapter. Surely they could dig up at least two more people interested in airplanes at Edwards AFB!
So the word went out for a start-up meeting on 5 November 1991, and on that date, more than enough people showed up, and the initial chapter officers and board of directors were selected. Jim Piavis would serve as the chapter's first president, with Bob Waldmiller as the vice-president. Vern Blomquist picked up the position of treasurer. Brian Martinez, a Northrop engineer, also working on the B-2 project, was elected secretary. Bruce Wright, an aerospace physiologist at the Edwards Altitude Chamber became the first newsletter editor.
Little did this little group of homebuilders realize just how perfect their timing was. When Jim called Bob Mackey at the EAA Chapter Office, Bob was excited about the prospect of an EAA Chapter at Edwards AFB, home of so many aviation firsts. At the same time, it happened that EAA was within a few chapters of chartering its 1000th chapter. Bob was so intrigued with the idea of attaching this milestone for EAA with the home of so many other great things in aviation that he decided at that moment to reserve the chapter number "1000" for this chapter at Edwards AFB.
However, since 1000 was not the next available number, we were directed to keep it under our hat until about Oshkosh 1992. By that time, Bob expected to fill in the gaps and be ready for 1000. In the meantime, we undertook the task of ratifying by-laws and getting incorporated in California. In addition, unlike most other chapters, we also had to take steps to be allowed to legally operate on Edwards AFB.
On 21 January 1992, the chapter patch design was unanimously chosen out of a field of five entries. The patch was a wonderful blend of many aspects of Chapter 1000: The joshua tree, native only to the Mojave desert; the Wright Flyer, the granddaddy of all homebuilts; a representive supersonic aircraft, symbolic of the Edwards history, and a background representative of the beautiful desert sunsets.
The chapter grew quickly, and in the April 1992 newsletter, President Jim, possibly just letting his mind wander in search of a humorous concept, introduced in his "From the Prez..." column a concept that would take the Chapter by storm and forever describe its character, the Project Police. Never again would this be just another EAA Chapter.
Also at this time, the first homebuilt completed by a Chapter 1000 member made its first successful flight. Scott "Doc" Horowitz, who obviously started his aircraft before Chapter 1000 was founded, was building a Q-200, which he was modifying into a Q-200RG(!) Unfortunately, between a year in Test Pilot School and problems with the landing gear geometry, the project was dragging out (surprised?) until Lisa (loving EAA type spouse) directed him to finish the aircraft or else. As such, the aircraft gained a fixed tricycle gear and became a Tri-Q-200. However, after the first flight, Doc launched into the classic EAA process of flying off the first 40 hours as rapidly as possible. Only in this case, it wasn't so he could fly the aircraft to Oshkosh. It was so he could fly it to Houston. What's the big rush to get to Houston? Doc had been selected by NASA to begin training as a Shuttle astronaut, and he had to leave by the end of May 1992.
Anxious to make a name for itself, Chapter 1000 decided to host its first big event. However, since at this time we were still a provisional chapter, for insurance reasons, we could not host an "EAA Fly-In." Well, being a Chapter full of government employees, we were never the type to let a little thing like semantics stop us. As such, we decided to host an "Airport Barbecue." We would host a party and serve burgers, and we would just happen to do it at Fox Field, Lancaster. How you got to the airport was up to you. Also, since Doc was leaving to go fly a hypersonic glider, we decided to bill it as the "Scotty Horowitz Going Away BBQ." Members flew to many airports in the local area posting notices of the party. Approximately 140 burgers were served and 27 homebuilts flew in. The event was covered by the local newspaper and also picked up by Air & Space magazine, who happened to be in the area working on another story and just couldn't miss a scoop like this. Air & Space titled their article "The Mad Monk Chapter" and explained the reference as
Thirteen years ago, in The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe described the early occupants of Edwards, back when it was called Muroc Field, as "some sort of weird ribald aerial tarpaper mad-monk squadron up on the roof of the desert." Though none of these modern made monks takes offense at Wolfe's description, Waldmiller prefers the term "true believers."
Of all of the visitors there that day, two would unwittingly have a large impact on the future activities of Chapter 1000, and they weren't even members of the chapter! Actually they came from the opposite end of the chapter lineage, Chapter 1. One of them was Ray Stits, well known as the developer of the Poly-Fiber process and the instigator of the EAA Chapter program. With him was Jan Johnson, Chapter 1 President-for-Life. They had seen the flyers and said they came up "to see what those crazy people up in the desert were up to."
Chapter 1000 scored another coup in base relations when the Vice Center Commander (#2 commander on base) Col. Vern Saxon joined the chapter. Soon Col. Saxon had bought a partially finished Sonerai II project, which soon led to one of the most memorable Project Police raids to date. Exercising the Project Police pyramid alert roster, a group of Project Police officers showed up at Col. Saxon's house to inspect his new project. One of the last to arrive made a splashing appearance, which resulted in the sacrifice of a sprinkler head. Of course, the Project Police never forget...this incident is still occasionally dredged up in casual conversation, the newsletter, or even here!
In late October, 8 fearless members set out to fly to the Copperstate Fly-In, during which they investigated the effects of an Aircraft Spruce catalog on climb performance and the strange occurrence of seeing the moon during the middle of the day!
As a result of Jim Piavis and Vern Blomquist each moving out of the area at the request of the government, emergency elections were held. When all of the dust cleared, Bob Waldmiller was the President, Brian Martinez became the Vice-President, Robert Daniel took over as secretary, and Norm Howell was double billeted as the Treasurer and Newsletter Editor.
The end of the year would be marked by Bob and Norm moving from their hangar at Fox Field to a house with hangar at Rosamond Skypark (L00). This location would soon come to be known as the "Flying Snake Ranch."
February 1993 saw the chapter further spreading the "gospel" of homebuilding to the masses by holding a Mall Show at the newly completed Antelope Valley Mall. Then shortly thereafter, a landmark event occurred.
Remember those two visitors from Chapter 1 who happened upon us at the Airport Barbecue? Well, they let it be known that they were hosting the annual Chapter 1 Open House at Flabob International Airport. This particular year, they would be honoring Paul Poberezny, founder of EAA, and Ray Stits at the Open House banquet. By this time, the Project Police were getting bored with just inspecting Chapter 1000, and since Ray and Jan had been nice enough to come up to our little shindig, we decided it was time to return the favor. Thus, 9 of us piled into Russ Erb's van, dubbed the Project Police Paddywagon, and headed down for what would later be referred to as Operation Rubidoux Sundown. We really made a name for ourselves that night.
May 1993 saw the continuance of another great tradition, with the holding of the "Second Annual Scotty Horowitz Going Away Party and The Mother of all House-Warmings Party and the Project Police Paddywagon Farewell Party." Unfortunately, due to government mis-schedulings, the Project Police Paddywagon actually departed the area for Colorado one week before the party. Otherwise the party was a big success. This was also the first year that the Chapter 49 pancake breakfast would be held in conjunction with the barbecue.
The chapter newsletter was also getting noticed around EAA. It was well known that our newsletter was well read and passed around the Chapter Office in Oshkosh, unlike many which tended to go into the files rather quickly. Other chapters were turning to our newsletter as a great source for original technical articles, suitable for plagiarizing. In fact, in just its first year of existance, the Chapter 1000 newsletter was a serious contender in the McKillop Award competition.
Chapter 1000 would again be heard at the Edwards AFB Open House, where there were more homebuilts on display than government airplanes. Additionally, flight testing accomplished by Chapter 1000 members would open up the whole Lancair 360 Handling Qualities bag o' worms. This would sweep the aviation community, not primarily from its publication in the newsletter, but its publication on Compuserve AVSIG.
February 1994 found the Project Police once again assaulting Flabob, not on the ground this time but from the air in Operation Rubidoux Sundown II. This operation was a resounding success and would set the tone for following years.
About this time, our newsletter was getting noticed. Both Erbman's Engine Emporium and One Hour Flight Test Program to Determine Aircraft Climb Performance were picked up for publication in Contact! magazine. These articles would also later show up in the book Alternative Engines.
The "Third Annual Scotty Horowitz Going Away Party and yada, yada, yada..." was held in May 1994, and again was a resounding success. This year introduced the Spot Landing Contest, with the results posted for all to see on the Port-o-Let. Space was also made available for the inevitable rebuttals.
In November 1994, The Leading Edge boldly went where it had not
gone before, publishing the recipe for AFFTC
Approved Test Pilot Chili. Once again, Chapter 1000 was well represented
at the Edwards AFB Open House, where
a friendly game of one-ups-manship resulted in several geographically challenged
visitors wondering how a open cockpit Pietenpol came to replace the C-130
in Antarctica. Shortly thereafter, the Project Police's introduced
terror secret weapon, the P2-Triple-D-I!.
Builders everywhere took a few hours off from building to fire up their
ovens and start cranking out chocolate chip cookies, just in case the Project
Police decided to drop by.
With elections in late 1994, Doug Dodson became the new President of this auspicious group. Mike Pelletier moved into the Vice-Presidency, and Tim Phillips became the Secretary. Norm Howell stayed on as Treasurer, and Bob Waldmiller became the Newsletter Editor.
The January 1995 Chapter 49/1000 Banquet was another big success at the Essex House, with Jon Sharp and Steve Ericson of the Nemesis Formula 1 racing team giving some insights into the most successful racing team in Formula 1 history.
Also at this time, Bob Waldmiller and Russ Erb were developing what would become a major upgrade to Young Eagles Certificates. They were creating a computer program to print sharp, professional looking certificates that all Young Eagles would be proud to frame and hang on their budding "I Love Me" wall. This program would evolve into WinYEFC 2.2, and would be adopted by the National EAA Young Eagles Office as THE official certificate printing software. In keeping with the ideals of the Young Eagles program, WinYEFC was released as freeware and made available for download from Compuserve and the National Young Eagles web page.
The 1995 raid on Flabob would be cancelled due to a heavy low overcast, which resulted in preventing a lot of other aircraft from flying in. Planning began shortly thereafter for the Fourth Annual Scotty Horowitz Going Away Party and yada, yada, yada...". The spot landing contest was back again, complete this time with an actual US Navy LSO ready to assist the participants, most of whom ignored him even though instructions had been printed in the previous newsletter.
In September 1995, some high-level government office determined that EAA Chapter 1000 was running too smoothly, and sought to do something about it. Doug Dodson, our President, was moved at the request of the government to Wright Patterson AFB, OH, and was succeeded by the Vice President, Mike Pelletier. Vince Sei stepped in fill the Vice President position. Tim Phillips, Secretary, was moved at the request of the government to..., well, we're not sure. We still have a Chapter Officer Certificate to send to him if we ever find him. It is held by his succeeding secretary, Chuck Firth. Bob Waldmiller, Newsletter Editor, was requested by the government to fill a critical position at Holloman AFB, NM, which disappeared before he got there. Vern Saxon took up the reigns of publishing the best EAA fish wrapper. Only Norm Howell, Treasurer, managed to survive the purge and remain in his position.
The 1995 Edwards AFB Open House had over 75 show planes sponsored by Chapter 1000. Dick Rutan spoke to over 200 people at the pre-Open House Banquet about the epic flight of the Voyager.
The Project Police returned again in 1996 for Operation Rubidoux Sundown IV. This was a ground assault in the all-weather Project Police Tactical Assault Vehicle, which looked an awful lot like a mini-van, with an awful lot in it. Officers Pelletier, Firth, Gennuso, and Howell, with able assist from Levi and Ginn of Chapter 49, met with Bob Mackey and officers from other chapters to discuss issues of improving EAA Chapters. All of this in spite of the rain and snow.
Planning also began for a new major event for the chapter. Jon Sharp was working to bring Formula 1 racing to Lancaster, CA, and had asked Chapters 49 and 1000 to help organize a Fly-In in conjunction with the event.
The 1996 May Fly-In, also known as EAA Chapter 49/1000 Embarrass Scott Horowitz For Not Taking Us Along on STS 75 Breakfast and Lunch Fly-In took on a slightly different angle, as our favorite chapter astronaut had just returned from space, and was raking in big bux for the chapter selling special edition chapter patches which had flown with him on the Space Shuttle.
Shortly thereafter, Russ Erb returned to the Antelope Valley with the Project Police Paddywagon and started stirring up things around the chapter. He was quickly sucked back onto the Board of Directors, and by August had started hatching this hare-brained scheme for a Chapter 1000 Web Site. By October, he had taken over Newsletter Editor at Vern Saxon's request.
October 1996 had Chapter 1000 hosting the homebuilts at the Edwards AFB Open House again. Gary Trippensee was the speaker at the Pre-Game Banquet, talking about his experiences with several of the recent NASA X-Planes. We had another hangar full of prize-winning show planes, including the new Oshkosh 1996 Grand Champion. It was a good thing we were in the hangar, as the winds were blowing at 30 knots gusting to 36. Exercising good flight safety, all of the aircraft and their pilots stayed over an extra night and launched first thing Sunday morning.
The next weekend was the First Annual Fox Field National Air Races and EAA Fly-In. It was successful and had the expected list of first-time event lessons learned. Of course, Chapter 1000 member Jon Sharp walked (flew?) away with the first place honors.
Operation Rubidoux Sundown V, the Project Police's annual visit to Flabob and EAA Chapter 1, was to be a big event this year. The newsletter started hyping it in October 1996, with the intensity increasing each month. The chapter was whipped into a frenzy, even finally acquiring Project Police Tactical Assault Force uniform T-Shirts. Chapter 1 was even caught up in the excitement and waiting for the annual raid. What a party! Good times were had by all, and the post-raid reports took up about half of the next newsletter.
About 20 February 1997, cyberspace history was made with the official launching of The Leading Edge Chapter 1000 Web Site. Like so many things you wondered what you would ever do with, once we got the web site, suddenly many members started suggesting more ideas of ways we could use the web site to benefit Chapter 1000 and the EAA public at large.
Less than a month later, planning for the Sixth Annual Scotty Horowitz Going Away Fly-in was underway at the March Board of Directors meeting. Prezident Mike Pelletier suggested that it would be nice to have a chapter booth as a ground command post. George Gennuso suggested that we just build one, and it was turned over to the Chapter 1000 Master Designer Charlie Wagner. Charlie presented an initial design at the March meeting for approval, and the go-ahead was given. The Project Police Construction Battalion met on several weekends to create the Chapter 1000 Booth, which was subsequently described as "the most over-engineered piece of plywood on the planet" and as being stressed to +9/-6 g's.
In May 1997, The Leading Edge expanded to 12 pages in an attempt to get out the backlog of newsletter articles that were piling up. The length of the newsletter has been limited to 12 pages for fiscal reasons: 6 sheets of 20# bond paper weigh one ounce. Adding one more page would raise the postage costs by 72 per cent. As of this writing, 12 consecutive newsletters of 12 pages, each packed with content (not fluff), have been printed, and the backlog of articles hasn't seemed to diminish. We attribute this to the outstanding membership of Chapter 1000 regularly contributing articles to the newsletter.
17 May 1997 was the date of the Sixth Annual Scotty Horowitz Going Away Fly-in. Again, Chapter 49 hosted a Pancake Breakfast and Chapter 1000 hosted the Barbecue Lunch. This year, we also added a Young Eagles Rally to the fun. While this sounded like a good idea, and was a successful rally, we found that hosting the Pancake Breakfast and the Young Eagles Rally simultaneously stretched our resources (i.e. number of workers) too thin. We decided to separate these events in the future. Other than that, good times were had by all. Ozzie Levi won the Spot Landing Contest, and was promptly presented with his award at the EAA Chapter 49/1000 Awards Banquet in January 1998(!).
At Oshkosh '97, Russ Erb was responsible for bringing home two prestigious awards to EAA Chapter 1000. The first was the Young Eagles Outstanding Ground Volunteer award for 1997. This was presented primarily for his efforts to write WinYEFC, the Young Eagles Flight Certificate Printing Program for Windows, and make it widely available to all EAA members. Of course, there were also his tireless efforts using this software to print certificates at all of the Chapter 1000/49 Young Eagles Rallies. The second award was for The Leading Edge which was finally deemed worthy of the McKillop Award, given to the top 10 newsletters in EAA. We took tenth place, but it was a real honor nonetheless. We were thrilled! Russ was not able to make it to Oshkosh, so his representative Norm Howell accepted and made speeches on his behalf.
In September 1997, Project Police and President Pelletier (P4) moved to Tucson, AZ to infiltrate the forces of Air-Zona. This move was cleverly disguised as being at the request of the government. In conjunction with this move, P4's handle was changed to P5, adding "Previous" to the beginning of his title. Vice Prezident Gary Aldrich stepped up to the helm to continue the leadership of this group of "wing nuts."
September quickly turned into "Machtober," a name befitting what the month felt like. It started with a planned Project Police raid on the Copperstate Fly-In at Mesa AZ. High winds in the Antelope Valley kept aerial arm of the Project Police Tactical Assault Force grounded, but a few members of the Special Operations Ground and Forward Based Aerial Assault Units managed to make it in and send a report back to HQ.
One week later we were setting up and executing the plan for hosting the General and Experimental Aviation portion of the 1997 Edwards AFB Open House. This year they were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Supersonic Flight and the 50th Anniversary of the United States Air Force. As such, it was a big to-do. Approximately 800,000 people came to the 2 day event (ever had that many at your chapter fly-in?), and in the excitement darn near exhausted ourselves.
However, being the Project Police that we are, we dug down deep in our gut and pulled out the strength to host the fly-in two weeks later at the 2nd Annual Fox Field National Air Races. Our own chapter member Jon Sharp walked away with the Formula 1 Championship again in Nemesis, and good times were again had by all.
Once again, the spectre of sacrifice reared its ugly sprinkler head in The Leading Edge.
1997 was a banner year for Young Eagles at Chapter 1000. Under the leadership of George Heddy and David McAllister we hosted 12 rallies and flew a total 504 kids.
The Leading Edge also hosted a bevy of outstanding articles. Of note among these were an outstanding series of corrosion control articles and several discussions of the joys and hazards of aircraft design modifications. The chapter Detachment list grew as well, adding Dets 4 through 7. An additional Det was added at a CLASSIFIED location, inhabited by a member writing web site reviews for The Leading Edge under the pseudonym of "Buck Rivetz."
Two programs by Charlie Wagner on Aircraft Electrical Systems (November and December) ended the year on a sound technical note. The Chapter 1000 Web site would close out 1997 with over 9000 hits since its launching in February.
Meanwhile, the story goes on...
The rules are simple. The Newsletter Editor has complete and supreme power to grant or revoke Det status. Det status is applied for by a current Chapter 1000 member serving in a detached area (again, defined by the Newsletter Editor) by submitting an article of suitable quality on any suitable subject for publication in The Leading Edge. Det status will be granted by publication of said article in The Leading Edge, with the Det number listed after the author's name, along with the location. Det numbers are assigned sequentially (generally).
The current Chapter 1000 Detachments are:
Visitors Since 25 April, 1998:
Contents of The Leading Edge and these web pages are the viewpoints of the authors. No claim is made and no liability is assumed, expressed or implied as to the technical accuracy or safety of the material presented. The viewpoints expressed are not necessarily those of Chapter 1000 or the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Revised -- 6 October 2001