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Model Aviation Magazine


"Focus on Education" - May 2003

Bill Osborne and the Alameda Aer-O-Nuts (AON) have been flying model airplanes and teaching others to fly model airplanes for a long time. Bill sent me a large folder full of information that shows just how long. These folks have worked with schools, military organizations, parks departments, airports, and the list goes on! Most recently, the Aer-O-Nuts worked with the Chipman Middle School in Alameda, California. I received a ton of information and pictures concerning their work with the school. I only have so much room, but I will attempt to show their efforts by including the following information.

The first describes the program and participants and the second is a thank you letter with a twist.

Left to right are Aer-O-Nuts members Heman Lee, Carlos Vadillo, Bill Osborne, and Jim Persson.

For some background on Alameda and the Osborne Flying Field, the following came from Alameda at Play: "Location: Doolittle Drive near Harbor Bay Parkway, Bay Farm Island. Size: 1.3 acres. Site acquired: 1946; 1955. Opened: 1947.

"Flight has long formed part of Alameda's heritage. In 1910, the Bay Area's first air meet was staged at old Neptune Gardens.

Within three years of Lindbergh's 1927 crossing of the Atlantic, Alameda had two commercial airports within its borders, and the city would achieve fame as a base of operations for the Pan American Clippers and the aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet.

"Model airplanes are one facet of the public's fascination with flight. Local enthusiasts held their first organized meets in Alameda in the afterglow of Lindbergh.

Sponsored by the Alameda Veterans' Service Club, events were staged at Washington Park in 1928 and 1929, and at Alameda High School in 1930.

"Hundreds of models were displayed and flown, most of them built by school-aged boys. Airport officials and Army aviators served as judges, awarding prizes for duration, distance, and speed. "Aviation clubs in the city schools created a demand for more meets. The Park Department sponsored its first competition in 1937 at Washington Park, with local aviators serving as judges.

By 1941, contests held in the various parks culminated in a citywide championship meet at Thompson Field. McKinley Park had its own club, the Alameda Prop Spinners.

"Improved engines created a postwar boom in the sport, particularly among adults. The Junior Chamber of Commerce and Aero Modelers of Alameda sponsored big meets at Washington Park in 1945 and 1946, drawing competitors and spectators from across Northern California. However, the increased noise and speed levels made the sport an inappropriate use for the crowded parks and neighborhoods of the main island.


"In 1946, the Jaycees and Aero Modelers petitioned city officials for an isolated site on Bay Farm Island. Opened in stages between the fall of 1946 and spring of 1947, the Alameda Model Airplane Field adjoined the municipal golf course south of the newly completed Doolittle Drive.

"In 1955, the field was moved across the road to its present location. Refurbished several times since, the facility includes two circular turfed flying fields. "Bill Osborne is the Lindbergh of local modelers. A native of Southern California, who built his first model airplane in 1927, Osborne came to Alameda during World War II as a metalworker at the Naval Air Station. He was one of the founders of Aero Modelers.

"Bill helped organize the postwar meets at Washington Park and, with Roland Cecchettini, was instrumental in establishing the flying field on Bay Farm Island. He has spent many hours over the years teaching others how to build and fly models.

The Alameda Model Airplane Field was rededicated in his honor on June 19, 1982."

Bill Osborne is helping with one of the Aer-O-Nuts aeromodeling classes at Chapman Middle School.

The school gymnasium was the perfect place to fly the completed class projects.

Instructor Jim Persson posts an enlarged Delta Dart plan on the board for the students to see.

Chipman Middle School Alameda Aer-O-Nuts: The Chipman Middle School has invited the Alameda Aer-O-Nuts to assist them in a special aeronautics class.

Those participating included Principal Laurie McLachlan Fry, Bill Osborne, Director Jim Persson, Assistant Director Jim Gomez, photographer Roland Cecchettini, and supporters.

Among the supporters were Ralph Appezzato, Mayor of Alameda; Lil Arnerich, former Alameda Vice Mayor; Rob Wonder, Assistant City Manager; Suzzane Ota, Director of the Alameda Recreation and Park Department; Jack Frost, Academy of Model Aeronautics; Carl Swinson; Julia Park, Alameda Sun; Mark Chandler, Alameda Times Star; and Bill Krushank, Alameda Journal.

Aer-O-Nuts instructors included class instructors: Jim Persson, John Gomez, Randy Bush, Duane Roach, Persal Evans, and Bob Riggio. U.C. flying instructors included Cary Taylor, Peter Parker, Heman Lee, John Salvin, and Carlos Vadillo, president of AON.

Following is the thank-you letter from Bill Osborne and the Aer-O-Nuts to Principal Laurie McLachlan Fry of Chapman Middle School. See what I mean by a twist?

"We of the Alameda Aer-O-Nuts Model Plane Club thank you for letting us assist in instructing the 161 sixth grade students in building and flying the Academy of Model Aeronautics Delta Darts model planes.

"You have outstanding teachers and we had the privilege of working with these professionals. "The Aer-O-Nuts instructors were Jim Persson, John Salvin, John Gomez, Randy Bush, Bob Riggio, Duane Roach, and Bill Osborne.

The students were well behaved and a joy to work with. "Ms. Laurie, if you have some pictures of the class, I would like to send them to Mr. Jack Frost of AMA. "Thank you for a wonderful time.

" I apologize again for not being able to show all of the photos, and I want to tip my hat to Bill Osborne, the Aer-O-Nuts, the Chipman Middle School, and all who participated.

Chipman Middle School Alameda Aer-O-Nuts The list of students taking part in the class. Teachers are identified in bold print.

From the AMA Educatino Committe web site: