Monday, December 19, 2011

Dutch Airlines Allows Passengers to Pick Seat After Looking at Other Passengers Social Media Profiles

You know how you’re always curious about who you will be sitting next to whenever you fly? It could be someone that leaves you very little elbow room, a crying baby or an individual that simply will not stop their yacking. Well, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has eliminated some of that mystery. Some people are saying that the airline has taken blind dating to the next level.

According to USA Today, KLM is developing a way that passengers can select who they want to sit by with the help of social media. The company will now be allowing their passengers to select where they want to sit by examining the social media profiles of the other passengers.

When you book your flight, you are given the option of browsing the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of other passengers that are also on your flight. This allows you to find a seatmate that has interests similar to yours or to simply choose someone that you think is attractive. However, to be able to browse other passengers' social media profiles, the passengers must have opted to link their e-ticket to their profiles. This is not required of passengers when they buy their tickets. It is a merely an option.

Lots of people are voicing their opinions on Twitter about this new way of selecting a seat. Some people like it, while others seem to think that it is slightly creepy.
Stumac01 tweeted that it is a great way “to go 'Mile High' with the hottest girl on the flight. The power will be in your hands," he said.

However laurastott1 said, “I cannot think of anything worse than this. Matchmaking via your seat choice in-flight, more like mile-high stalking."

cklenotic simply said, "That could be a LONG flight if it doesn't work out."

Although this is a new concept for airlines, it is not their first introduction to creative uses of social media. Back in February Malaysia Airlines released a Facebook app that allows passengers to book, check-in and then search for Facebook friends that are on the same flight or are traveling to nearby destinations, all without leaving Facebook.

I think that all of it is a little bit creepy, but if people are willing to put themselves out there like that to be judged by the rest of the passengers on their flight, then that is their choice. It will be interesting to see how many people are actually willing to link their social media profile to their e-ticket.

Sources: PCMag - Dutch Airline Lets Passengers Pick Seats By Perusing Facebook Profiles and SkyNews HD - KLM To Offer Mile-High Dating Via Facebook

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Southern California May Play Home to New Harry Potter Theme Park

The Wizarding World of Harry PotterWould you like to know what is top on my bucket list? Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida. I've been a Harry Potter fanatic since I saw the first movie some ten years ago and the opening of the theme park was literally a dream come true. However, I live in Ohio so making the trip all the way to Florida isn't something I can just do on a whim. What's worse is that there are tons of Harry Potter fans just like me who are dying to visit the park that live even farther away on the West Coast. Luckily for them, they may be getting their very own Harry Potter theme park pretty soon.

Possible plans have been announced to build a new Harry Potter theme park in California with Universal Studios Hollywood hosting the attraction. With the incredible success of the first park in Orlando, it seems that Universal is looking to build on that success and branch out to a wider audience. According to the Los Angeles Times, the theme park in Florida has been responsible for a 36% boost in attendance at Universal Orlando within the first three months of 2011.

The park itself has rides and attractions themed after the books and movies as well as a ton of replicas from popular locations, including Honeydukes, Zonko's Joke Shop and the great Hogwarts itself. It is safe to assume that similar things would be implemented in the California park as well. However, Universal Studios Hollywood must somehow figure out a way to fit the theme park into its current location due to the limited space. Organizers have stated that existing rides may need to be removed or retrofitted in order to make room for the new attraction.

The new California park could open as early as 2015 with Reuters also reporting that Harry Potter theme parks may also soon open up in other countries, primarily Japan and Singapore. All I can say is the more the merrier when it comes to Harry Potter theme parks!

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Source: Digital Journal - New Harry Potter theme park may be coming to Southern California

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Airports Starting to Sell Ad Space on Control Towers

Medford Airport Control TowerIt is no surprise that in these tough economic times, companies are looking to put advertisements anywhere. Any surface that can house an ad for a company is being sold so that struggling businesses can make some quick cash. However, officials at an airport in Medford, Oregon have done something truly bizarre. Officials have recently given approval to place giant corporate logos on the airport's control tower.

The Medford City Council took a vote during the week to amend city code, allowing these gigantic adds to be placed. Each ad measures 25-by-25 feet with one being placed on each of the four sides of the 100-foot tall control tower, a landmark to the city.

The combined revenue of the ads is said to generate $3,000 per month and Councilor Al Densmore has said that even though he would love to keep public buildings free and clear of advertising, the money will help reduce landing fees and, in turn, make the airport more attractive to new airlines.

Medford's city planning commission actually voted against the proposal last month, which prompted the director of the airport to go directly to the council himself. Allen Adamson, Managing Director of the global branding firm Landor, stated that the idea to put advertising on the control tower is a "no-brainer" and that he expects many airports to follow the Medford's lead.

Personally, I have always found control towers to be a bit boring. Now that Medford is selling ad space on theirs, I can only hope that I will one day be flying into an airport only to see a giant advertisement for the McRib on the control tower. A 25-by-25-foot rib sandwich sure would be something to behold.

Source: MSNBC - Oregon airport to put ads on control tower

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vision Airlines Offers $2 Round-Trip Flights to the Bahamas, Stings Attached

BahamasWhen you see a headline that says "$2 Flight to the Bahamas", a few things probably cross your mind: Can this be safe? and What strings are attached? Well if you are thinking an offer like this is too good to be true, then you are most likely right. The offer comes from a Georgia-based low-fare airline that is launching nonstop service to Freeport from five different U.S. cities, with a few strings attached.

Vision Airlines, an air carrier that started off offering Grand Canyon charter flights back in 1994, just started twice-weekly flights to Grand Bahama Island earlier this week from Baltimore/Washington, Louisville, Raleigh/Durham and Richmond with flights five days a week from Ft. Lauderdale. The $2 promotion, which is good through March 4 if purchased by December 11, requires the customer to put in for a three-night minimum stay for at least two people at one of nine Grand Bahama resorts. However, that price does not reflect the $120 tax (per person) round-trip. So in essence you are looking at about $934.45 per couple minimum.

Regular one-way fares to Freeport will cost anywhere from $39 to $189 with an average of $99, plus a $60 tax each way. C.A. Smith, the Bahamian ambassador to the United States, was quoted saying that he hopes the Vision Airlines service will rekindle interest in Freeport, which just so happens to be the main city on Grand Bahama Island as well as the second-largest in the country. According to Smith, "The plan basically allows us to redevelop the tourism sector of the economy, and in order to do that you have to be able to have inexpensive airline seats. You have to make it convenient for people to travel."

Smith also added that Freeport was devastated by a hurricane in 2004 and 2005 and has since been eclipsed by Nassau in the recent years, especially after the opening of the Atlantis mega-resort helped initiate a hotel building influx on New Providence Island. New Providence, where Nassau is located, is also linked to New Paradise Island (the site of the Atlantis) by a causeway.

Another red flag is that it has been reported that Vision Airlines owes nearly $260,000 in unpaid passenger facility charges to the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, the location where the airliner began service in December of 2010. In addition to that, the company is also said to owe passenger facility charges and other fees to the Little Rock National Airport in Arkansas. Just a few things to keep in mind if you actually decide to cash in on this "deal".

Source: USA Today - The Bahamas for a buck? Vision Airlines offers $2 round-trip flights is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

American Airlines to Offer International Curbside Check-In

Curbside Check-InAmerican Airlines is expanding its Curbside Check-In service to give any customer traveling internationally the opportunity to check their bags with the skycap. This makes the travelers trip through the airport, which everyone knows can be extremely stressful, as smooth as possible.

Curbside Check-In from American Airlines is available to any and all customers traveling to an international location. This includes countries that require a visa, making American Airlines the only airline to provide a service of this kind.

Ever since September, American Airlines has been expanding the enhanced service to 28 airports that already offer domestic Curbside Check-In services including American Airlines' cornerstone markets in Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami and New York at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. 31 additional U.S. markets will offer the new service by the beginning of November according to American Airlines.

According to a statement from American Airline's Senior Vice President of Airport Services Tom Del Valle, "Offering Curbside Check-In for travel to international destinations is another way American is expanding its products and services to better meet the needs and desires of customers traveling abroad. The new service offers a seamless transition from booking to boarding, and we look forward to the positive changes this will bring to our customers' overall travel experience."

Curbside Check-In allows customers to have the convenient opportunity to book, purchase and check in from their home, drop their bags on the airport curb with the skycap and move directly through the security check-in point to their departure gate in one easy process. In addition to that, this service also provides flexibility for customers traveling with a large number of bags or to anyone who prefers to bypass the ticket counter altogether.

Curbside Check-In at international airports will also coincide with regular ticket counter hours and will be available to customers who use online flight check-ins, electronic tickets or those with/without pre-reserved seats.

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Source: The Sacramento Bee - American Airlines Introduces Curbside Check-In for Customers Traveling to International Destinations

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

TomTom's New Go Live 1535M Nav Unit

TomTom Go Live 1535M
TomTom, the popular GPS manufacturer, just announced the launch of live services for the Canadian market with the introduction of the connected GO LIVE 1535M. This device combines the most comprehensive road and traffic information from TomTom HD Traffic with access to real-time information via travel-related apps. These new features are said to give people the information they need on a dedicated device that is specifically designed to offer a high quality navigational experience.

Since this device is connected, the GO LIVE can save you time with your commute, money on your gas and help lessen stress by continuously monitoring and rerouting you based on current traffic conditions. In addition to that, TomTom HD Traffic provides accurate reporting by capturing more actual traffic jams than previously possible. And if that isn't enough, TomTom HD Traffic also processes traffic conditions for all major and secondary roads within the Canadian road network and proactively delivers updates in real-time to your device every two minutes.

According to TomTom President Tim Roper, "We are excited to introduce our connected navigation solutions to Canadian drivers. By giving people the most up-to-date traffic details as well as relevant local content provided by travel apps, TomTom is bringing a new level of connectivity to drivers by providing information in the most effective platform available."

Features of the new TomTom GO LIVE 1535M include:

  • Intuitive Voice Recognition with one-step address entry

  • Bluetooth Hands-Free Calling

  • Integrated Mount with Flip-Screen

  • Crisp, sharp graphics and intuitive user menus

  • Expanded driving view on 5" touch screens

  • Spoken Street Names

  • Advanced Lane Guidance

  • Maps of the United Stats, Canada and Mexico

  • Lifetime Map Updates

  • TomTom LIVE Services Bundle, including TomTom HD Traffic

  • Branded Travel apps from Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Twitter and Google

The TomTom GO LIVE 1535M will be available at Best Buy, Future Shop, Rogers Stores and other nationwide retailers sometime this month with pricing starting at $269 CAD MSRP.

Source: Engadget - TomTom extends Live service and HD traffic to Canada with Go Live 1535M nav unit

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Friday, September 23, 2011

AmaWaterways Has Something Special Planned for Your Holiday Cruise

AmaWaterwaysIf you are a planning on taking a European cruise with AmaWaterways over the December holidays, then you may be in for a special treat. AmaWaterways is planning on giving passengers an extra one to two nights on its ships located in ports in Amsterdam.

However, if that isn't enough for you, AmaWaterways is also offering "triple savings" on the holiday cruises as well. New bookings made through October 31 will be rewarded with a $500 price savings per person on the cruise as well as a complimentary one-category stateroom upgrade and a $100 shipboard credit per stateroom.

However, this offer is only available on the following two cruise lines:

AmaLegro - A two-night pre-cruise program in Prague followed by a nine-night Nuremberg to Amsterdam cruise that includes two complimentary nights on board the ship in Amsterdam. The United States Departure Date is scheduled for December 20, with a cruise embarkation date of December 23.

AmaLyra - A two-night Prague pre-cruise program followed by an eight-night Nuremberg to Amsterdam cruise that includes a complimentary night on board the ship in Amsterdam. The United States Departure Date for this cruise is scheduled for December 22 with a cruise embarkation date of December 25.

Both cruises will visit towns decorated during the holiday season including Christmas markets filled with hand-made crafts, toys, ornaments, etc... Special on board activities also include things like tree-trimming parties, crew caroling and a visit from ol' St. Nick himself. A traditional Christmas dinner will be served on both ships as well as a New Year's feast complete with fireworks in Amsterdam to bring in the new year.

Source: USA Today Travel - Deal Watch: AmaWaterways offers free nights in Amsterdam for holiday cruises

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Travel Purchases Influenced by Frequent Flyer Miles

Frequent Flyer MilesIn most cases travelers tend to give some thought and consideration to earning frequent flyer miles whenever making decisions about travel purchases.

At least that is true according to a survey that was recently conducted by GO Airport Express and The GO Group, one a ground transportation company out of Chicago and the other an international franchise organization of ground transportation companies.

The survey had a total of 675 participants, all of which were asked how often earning frequent flyer miles factored into their decisions. Nearly 71% indicated that earning frequent flyer miles always, frequently or occasionally factored into their decision with only 28% saying that it never does.

According to President of GO Airport Express John McCarthy, "I think the survey tells us that people are seeking an added value when making airfare, hotel or other related purchases, as opposed to choosing on single factors such as price."

In addition to that, customers of GO Airport Express can also earn Preferred Rider miles as well as United Mileage Plus or American Advantage miles by joining the free Preferred Rider Program.

I am not a frequent flyer though I do know that if I was, I would definitely be looking into decisions that increased my frequent flyer miles. With the downward spiral our economy is on, coupled with the rising fuel costs and rising prices of airline tickets, frequent travelers can use all the help they can get.

Source: The Sacramento Bee - Frequent Flyer Miles Factor Into Travel Purchases According to GO Airport Express

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Airports Begin to Start Up Post Hurricane Irene

John F. Kennedy International AirportIt seems that Hurricane Irene is doing more than just forcing people to evacuate and throwing a lot of ugly storms our way. As a result of the impending hurricane, many flights to and from areas along the East coast were cancelled as airports shut down for safety protocols.

The good news is that some East coast airports have resumed partial service as of Sunday, even though travel was sluggish thanks to U.S. airlines canceling over 6,000 flights, a majority of which were located in the Greater New York, Boston and Philadelphia areas.

The Baltimore/Washington International Airport resumed service very slowly on Sunday beginning with a 10:20 a.m. American Airlines flight from Miami. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the organization that oversees Reagan National and Dulles International Airports, stated that its airports are open and sustained "no major damage" from the storms on Saturday.

More than half of the 6,000+ cancellations came from the three major airports in the Greater New York area, John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia. Despite the cancellations and storms, many airlines stated that they could resume New York service by midday Monday depending on conditions and access of the facilities.

Many of the airports on the East Coast stayed open despite empty runways. The only flights out of Boston's Logan International Airport that were expected to come through on Sunday were two late night international arrivals, according to Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for the airport.

U.S. carriers stated that they planned on resuming operations as early as 6 a.m. on Monday and no later than noon. Airlines have canceled over 1,000 flights to and from Philadelphia International Airport where there were no departures scheduled. However, the facility did reopen on Sunday at 4 p.m. after closing the night before. All East Coast airports should become fully operational at some point in the coming week.

Source: The Wall Street Journal - Travel Snarled as Airports Revive

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ford Tri-Motor at Port Clinton Airfield

The large hangar at the fixed base operator (FBO) site at the Port Clinton Ohio airfield houses a partially reconstructed/restored Ford Tri-motor. In the late 1920's Henry Ford successfully endeavored to build what was the first commercially feasible passenger airplane fleet in the world - the Ford Tri-motor. The work of restoring and recreating one of these aircraft is a very ambitious project.

The local EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 1247 started this monumental task several years ago thinking to preserve the airplane for history. Warren Cermak is the lead person on the project. The club goal was to create a working aircraft. Since that time they have expanded their horizon to include housing the vehicle in a museum for the public to see and enjoy. The tri-motor will be used for sightseeing rides as well as being on display in the museum. The museum will be located on the Port Clinton airfield but on the opposite side of the field from the FBO near the roadway and will have a (50's?) diner included.

The chapter has established the Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation to accommodate donations that help support the purchase of materials for the project and the museum. Please visit their website to view a video of the project and its goals. All funds donated are being matched two for one ($2 additional for every $1 donated) by a private donor.
We are amazed at the dedication of Chapter 1247 for the past few years and admire the work already accomplished.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hotels Now Offering Rooms with Workout Equipment

Westin Workout Hotel RoomLet's be honest, the last thing many of us would probably want to think about while on vacation is our workout routine right? I mean, how can you enjoy your time of relaxation if you are constantly trying to make it to the hotel workout room or worrying about what you are going to eat that day? However, there may be a way to make your vacation workout time easier as many hotels are beginning to offer rooms that come equipped with weights, yoga mats and even treadmills or elliptical machines.

According to Chris Carmichael, CEO and Head Coach for Carmichael Training Systems, "The increased popularity of in-room fitness options has to do with convenience and effectiveness. People can get the job done without leaving their room, get it done quickly and get on with their day."

Keeping up with this trend, the Hotel 71 in Chicago created five 600-square-foot fitness suites as part of a $15 million renovation. Two of the rooms feature elliptical machines, three have treadmills and all have 43" TVs that guests can use to play things like workout DVDs. However, these rooms will cost you a little extra. The average nightly rate is $179, though the suites will also be offered to members of the hotel's loyalty program as an upgrade.

"Our fitness center is available 24 hours a day, but some people find it awkward to go down there in the middle of the night," said General Manager Steve Shern. "Others just want the ability to work out in their own private space."

Other, larger hotel chains are jumping on the bandwagon as well. Both Affinia Hotels and the Hilton Garden Inn chain offer complimentary fitness kits, which include yoga mats, stretching blocks, workout bands and weights. The Hilton Garden also includes an 8-lb. ball for abdominal workouts.

Some hotel companies are even making partnerships with athletic and training companies to provide everything from exercise videos to workout clothes. Guests of the Sheraton can take advantage of complimentary video-on-demand routines and "workout in a bag" kits developed by the athletic training company Core Performance. At the Westin guests can borrow complimentary athletic shoes as well as workout clothes due to a partnership with New Balance.

"Frequent travelers have realized that being fit makes travel easier," Carmichael stated. "They don't want to put their lifestyle on hold when they leave town." Shern added, "I talked to one guest who told me the machine was staring at her the entire time. She said it was a great source of motivation to actually get on it."

Source: MSNBC - Hotels bring the workout to your room

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Johnson's Island Civil War Cemetery

Johnson's Island Civil War Cemetery
Even if you are just slightly interested in the Civil War, you will enjoy this well kept federal cemetery on a tiny residential island in northwest Ohio. To get there, travel on the perimeter road east of Port Clinton on the Sandusky Bay side. Watch for a very small marker to herald the entrance to the causeway leading to Johnson's Island (the cost is currently two dollars/car to cross the causeway). There will be a sign directing you to the cemetery.
Once there, you will be surprised by the fenced in rows of white grave markers that are almost all in very good condition. This area is listed as "Ohio's most significant Civil War site". The Confederate Prisoner of War Depot was rapidly built early on in the conflict labeled the Civil War. The first prisoners arrived in April of 1862. Twenty-six Confederate generals and future generals were imprisoned on the island.
History has it that they were treated very fairly at the beginning of the conflict but later on rations were greatly decreased and the facilities were overcrowded. There is a museum dedicated to preserving the history and artifacts of the camp located in Sandusky at the Ohio Veteran's Home.
Archeological studies continue at the cemetery. There is a chart showing graves wih markers and those burial sites that are unmarked but verified as having human remains.
There is a large handsome monument erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1910. The monument serves as a memorial to honor the service of these men.

Marblehead Lighthouse

Add Marblehead Lighthouse to Your Cedar Point Visit
Cedar Point, north of Sandusky, may be the spot the kids want to experience but you might want to sneak in this special lighthouse in the northwestern corner of the great state of Ohio.
Marblehead Lighthouse offers wonderful views of Lake Erie, a finely preserved lighthouse and home where the lighthouse keeper and family would stay, as well as a stroll around the well kept grounds.
The drive is to go north east of Port Clinton following the Lake Erie shoreline until you come to the park entrance. Enjoy the views and the walk or bring your fishing gear to try to catch supper!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dispute Between American Airlines and Travelport Continues

American AirlinesAmerican Airlines and Travelport LP, a ticket middleman, have just delayed a duel between the two companies reminiscent of ones in the past that have resulted in American flights disappearing from popular travel websites and ticket brokers.

In a statement from both American Airlines and Travelport that was released yesterday, the two companies stated that agreements that are set to expire in the next couple of months have been extended to last until the end of the year. One of the deals that included Worldspan, an affiliate of Travelport, was set to expire on Sunday.

Travelport's "global distribution systems", which include Worldspan, Galileo and Apollo, provide information about airline flights and fares to travel agencies around the world. American Airlines wishes to deal more directly with travel agencies in order to reduce distribution costs and to tailor offers to customers directly.

American Airlines has also accused Travelport of breaking antitrust laws by raising fees and burying information about American flights, making travel agents see flight information and prices from other airlines before they see those from American. Several lawsuits have arisen due to the dispute involving AMR Corporation's American, Travelport, Sabre Holdings Corporation and online travel agencies which include Orbitz Worldwide Incorporated. The dispute even got so bad that American Airlines flights didn't even appear on Orbitz or Expedia.

Both American Airlines and Travelport LP have declined to comment on the current situation.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek - American Airlines, Travelport extend agreement is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

VACATION! BEACH! SUN! FAMILY! FOOD! Bethany Beach Delaware!

Everybody loves the beach (or the unit that is airconditioned and looks out on the beach..). The 'beachies' have a sand chair, reading material, a cold drink, a beach towel, maybe a beach umbrella, a friend or two, music available, french fries at some point in the sunbathing day, a quick dip in the 'cool' ocean or (if you are lucky) the pool, and finally the conversation spoken (or not) about where will I eat tonight...
Then it is crabs or ribs or corn on the cob - progressing to movies or boardwalk or cards or a walk on the now cool beach. If you are lucky, you see the sand cleaner machine in action making things ready for the next day.
If you are really lucky you see dolphins just off the beach or wind surfers or kayakers.
Finally just to make you sigh in pleasure you see this marvelous moon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Heros in Our Back Yard, Dayton Ohio

Honor to the Heros
Locals were among the glitter and warmth of an evening celebration to enroll four men honored by being named into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. This year of the 50th annual ceremony was particularly special to admit Iven C. Kincheloe, Carles E. McGee, S. Harry Robertson and Thomas D White to the ranks of men and women honored.
The hundreds of people attending the black tie dinner at the Dayton Convention Center included Neil Armstrong, Amanda Wright Lane, Col. Thomas Moe, Frank Borman, Gen. Richard Cody, and Sec. of the U. S. Air Force, Michael B. Donley.
These awards are for past heroic efforts and great contributions to the history of aviation. As the biographies were read by the presenters, these men may have not been in the limelight but were outstanding by the sheer donations they have made over the years.
Col. Charles E. McGee, USAF retired was the only honoree able to accept the award on his own behalf. The acceptance speech given by this 91 year old man gave great credit to the men under his command. His 409 aerial flights over three wars is a record that tells he was in
the air with the men in his squadron. He was a fine leader who gained their loyalty, respect and admiration.
We had the particular pleasure of sitting with Betty Tach Blake. Mrs. Blake was in the first class of WASPs in 1943. These WASP pilots ferried the airplanes from coast to coast as they were manufactured. What that statment does not tell you is that these women were also the test pilots of each plane as they were inspected but not flown before they were transferred to their final destination.
Watch for the announcement next year. if at all possible you will be thrilled to attend the Dayton Ceremony.