Big Sky Rendevous
USAF Helicopter Pilot Association
P.O. Box 966
MEDICAL LAKE, WA 99022-0966
7 Aug 2015
This is the First Newsletter for the
GREAT FALLS, MONTANA, USAFHPA REUNION
July 13-16, 2016.
2016 REUNION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Allen Rosenbaum-Vice Chairman
Other members of our staff:
Bill Waters-Special Commications
KV Hall-Historian/Webmaster (.org)
Jon Kennedy – Webmaster (.com)
Don Van Meter-ADA Specialist
Dale Potter – Hospitality
CHAIRMAN’S CORNER – Kyron Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
At Charleston I was unable to complete my presentation to host the next reunion so I will do so here. We have our own unique Western history and I think you will enjoy a visit to “Big Sky Country”. Some of you have been stationed at Malmstrom AFB and those that caught some of my slideshows at CHS have a good idea of what we have to offer. Also this will the 20th Reunion held by the USAFHPA. Pencil us in on your new USAFHPA calendars!
I want to be early enough that things are still green and hopefully lots of water over the Great Falls. (Pray for a wet spring). And late enough that those wanting to tour Glacier Park, the Pass will be plowed clear of snow.
We will be staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Great Falls, MT. ($139 plus tax). We have initially contracted for 80 rooms for the 4 nights of the reunion and added 25 rooms the day before and 10 rooms the day after. The Hilton will add more rooms if the demand requires it and if they are available at that time. The Hilton is ready to accept reservations. You may book your rooms at 1-406-452-1000 or the following website:
Please make your reservations as soon as possible, it really helps us in planning for the events.
The Hilton Garden Inn will honor the room rate of $139 (plus tax) for 3 days before and 2 days after for anyone extending their stay. For those traveling with their pets, like we do, the Hilton does not allow them. However, a block down the street is the Hampton Inn that allows pets. You can reserve your Pet Friendly room through the Hilton.
We have been working on the activities. Details for the schedule of events and the formal registration form will be in the next newsletter.
The presence of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery in 1805 is one of our claims to fame. The Lewis and Clark expedition left St. Louis, Missouri in 1804 at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson to “to find route to Pacific coast and lay claim for U.S. on newly acquired territory of Louisiana Purchase.” The Louisiana Purchase covered 828,000 sq miles of unexplored territory and included all the lands between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains to the West and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. At 2,341 miles, the Missouri River is longest in the United States. At a point approximately 2000 miles upstream, on Jun 13, 1805 Capt. Meriwether Lewis was the first white man to see the Great Falls of Missouri River. It is 87 ft high, 600 feet wide with 200 ft limestone cliffs on each side. He figured 3 days to portage around the Falls. The Mandan Indians, with whom they stayed during the winter of 1804-05, told them of a waterfall upstream but not four more in the succeeding 12 miles. The portage up the steep river banks and through cactus covered prairie proved to be an arduous trek. They spent 29 days on the portage, the longest time spent at any location other than winter encampments. On July 4th, 1805, they celebrated the holiday where the city of Great Falls now stands. (Stephen Ambrose’s book ‘Undaunted Courage’ gives an excellent account of their epic journey).
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, located on the banks of Missouri River between Black Eagle Falls and Rainbow Falls and claimed to be the best in the country, is definitely on the list.
Giant Springs State Park and Fish hatchery is near the Center. Giant Springs is one of the largest natural springs in the country and puts out 156 million gallons of water per day with water temperature 54 degrees. It is fed by snowmelt from Little Belt Mountains 60 miles away and takes 26 years to transit through the limestone rock aquifer. The Roe River at 201 ft. is the world’s shortest according to Guinness Book of Records. At the Montana State Fish Hatchery you can feed 10 pound Rainbow Trout.
Ryan Dam, a hydroelectric plant, was built above ‘the Great Falls of the Missouri River’ in 1915. Ryan Island Park, public recreational picnic area, is located just downstream from Ryan Dam, which is part of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark. The Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark was designated by the federal government in 1966 to commemorate Lewis and Clark’s travel around the five falls of the Missouri River in the summer of 1805. The park is in the middle of the Missouri River connected by a suspension bridge over the power plant wash of Ryan Dam. The picnic area with its picnic shelters and tables is a popular spot for families. You can see fantastic views of the falls from the visitor’s view point. The picnic area is handicapped accessible.
Sheffels Farms is a family operated wheat farm near Ryan Dam. We may make a short stop there where the farm boys in the crowd can see the big modern machinery they use today. You can hear of the many ways of how wheat used.
The ‘Gates of the Mountains’ Boat Tours follows the theme. About 60 miles upstream from Great Falls, the 1200 feet high limestone cliffs on both sides of the river appeared to block any further progress up the river. But as the Lewis and Clark party proceeded around the next bend, the cliffs appeared to open and Captain Lewis proclaimed that ‘this surely must be the “Gates of the Rocky Mountains”. The 105 minute narrated tour gives the geological and historical significance of the area. Also wildlife such as Mule Deer, Mountain Goats, Bald Eagles, Osprey and others may be sighted.
At midpoint of the tour, you will pass Mann Gulch where in August 1949, 15 smokejumpers parachuted in on a forest fire. As they began to work on the fire, the strong winds caused the fire to “blow up” and as the firefighters attempted to outrun the fire to the top of the ridge, 12 of the 15 men perished in the fire. (Norman Maclean’s book ‘Young Men and Fire’ and the movie ‘Red Skies of Montana’ with Richard Widmark, were based on this incident.)
Charles Marion Russell came to Montana when he was 16 to be a cowboy. He was intrigued by the Western life of cowboys and the Native American Indian and of the mountains and the animals. Charlie had a knack for drawing and soon took up oil painting. He became quite famous in his own right. The Charles M. Russell Museum of Western Art holds several thousand of his works as well as other western artists such as O.C. Seltzer and Frederick Remington. The Museum also houses a display of the American Bison, our Buffalo, and how it was an integral part of the Native American culture and way of life. The Browning Firearms Company also has a display of the firearms of the period.
The ‘Russell Art Auction’ was started in 1969 as a fundraiser for the Museum. That year it grossed $20,000. Each March the auction is held and in 2015 the sales topped $7.8 million. It draws artists from all over the country and buyers from all over the world.
On the northeast edge of town is Malmstrom AFB. The base, first known as East Base, was constructed in 1942 during WWII as a staging field for Lend-Lease airplanes given to Russia by the United States in the war against Germany. (Kathy’s Dad drove a gravel truck during the base construction). Malmstrom AFB is now home of 341st Missile Wing (ICBMs) and 40th Helicopter Squadron with UH-1Ns for missile site support and Search and Rescue. Last year the 40th passed their 400th save. Malmstrom was the first base to have operational ICBM missiles (1962) and was supported by Sikorsky H-19 helicopters.
The First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park near town might be of interest. For hundreds of years, the Native American Indians would slowly haze herds of buffalo towards cliffs at the end of a long plateau. As the buffalo neared the cliffs, the Indians hiding along the sides, would jump up and yell and wave blankets to stampede the animals over the cliffs to their deaths. The people would then harvest the meat for food and the hides for clothing and shelter. No part of the buffalo was wasted.
For those that might be interested, the Missouri River has some Blue Ribbon trout fishing for the anglers for pre/post activity. We have a couple of public golf courses for the “duffers”.
Please go to our website, www.usafhpa.org, to check out the online Newsletter with some photos to pique your interest.
Great Falls, Montana is 264 miles north of Yellowstone National Park and 150 miles south of Glacier National Park. We are about 80 miles east Rocky Mountain Front at 3500 ft elevation. Pop. 59,000. Agricultural country – cattle/ wheat. Some of the best malting barley in the country is grown in an irrigated area west of Great Falls and some of the beer you consume might be made from Montana barley.
The Missouri River flows through the middle of town and there are 5 Hydro-electric dams, the first one built in 1890 and the last in 1958. The plants put out 229 megawatts of electricity and the town’s nickname is the “Electric City”.
We are served by several airlines – United, Delta, Alaska, and Allegiant. Interstate 15 goes through town. Amtrak trains have stops in Havre and Shelby, MT that are about 60 miles north of GTF. For RV’s there are KOA, Dick’s RV Park and Malmstrom’s FamCamp.
The record high temperature for Great Falls is 107 and the low -49. (If you can’t take the winters, you don’t deserve the summers). July average is 83/51. Humidity 40 % or less. Annual rainfall 15 inches. Wind average 12.5 mph.
Come a day early or stay a day longer and tour Glacier National Park. I highly recommend it.
I am working on a possible Pre/Post reunion bus trip to Glacier National Park. We would need at least 50 people to fill a bus. It would probably cost around $80 a head which would cover buses and sack lunch. Includes Park entrance fee unless we can work a deal and/or get enough folks with Park Passes.
We would leave GTF by coach bus for a 2.5 – 3 hour drive to Glacier. There you would grab your sack lunch and board the 25 pax Sun Tour bus to tour the park for 4-5 hours. Then relax on the return ride to GTF.
The trip would take all day, a long day, yes.. but.. you would not have to do the driving but ride in a nice air conditioned bus and even take a nap if you wish. You could focus your attention on the beautiful country side and the awesome mountains of the Park.
Please Let me know If you would be interested _____
If you have a Senior Park Pass ______
Prefer pre or post reunion trip ______
Email me at email@example.com. Or call 406-736-5500
We hope you will come to the “Big Sky Rendezvous” in 2016.
SPECIAL COMMUNICATIONS AND GOLF TOURNEY ORGANIZER – Bill Waters (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Members “Gone West”: (Info received – April – June 2015)
Robert Arnau – February 24, 2015
Hoyt Hurt – April 1, 2015
Don Damoth – April 12, 2015
Clark Loverin – May 3, 2015
John Fiser – July 14, 2015
Mrs. Keith (Rita) Proctor – April 2015
Dorothy Allen Olson (Helen Kekuna’s Mother}-April 2015
Golf Tourney – Great Falls – Currently. – Nothing scheduled – as yet. Those who are considering attending the reunion and wish to play golf – please inform – if interested.
HISTORIAN’S CORNER – K.V. Hall
At the Charleston Meeting the subject of the ‘Black Mariah’ was brought up. Someone asked, ”What is the Black Mariah?” Whether he didn’t know or was just being facetious, I don’t know.
For the history of “676”, aka the “Black Mariah”, go to http://usafhpa.org/specialinterest/blackmariah/mariah.htm
TREASURER’S CORNER – Bob Strout
The organization remains solvent. Following the voice recommendation of the membership at the Charleston Reunion, I am notifying those members whose dues are more than three years in arrears. Technically, that would include anyone whose dues expired in 2013, but so far I have only dropped those with expiration dates of 2012 or earlier. Please check the dues date on your newsletter label. The dues for 2015 were due in January. Are you delinquent? If you need a new roster, let me know. I can also furnish an e-roster in Excel or Quatro.
The membership also approved dropping the LIFE eligible age from 85 to 80 years of age. You may be eligible for LIFE Membership. Check the By-Laws on the web site.
Still have some random reunion left over goodies. Hats: Six at $14.50 (San Diego), Nine at $8.50, (HPA LOGO), 16 Charleston Recipe Books at $8, Challenge Coins at $6, and Decals at $1. Credit Card Cases @ $7, Calendars are gone. Prices include postage, which has gone up!
Charleston Report – from Bob Putlock
Check out Bob Putlock’s Charleston “After Action Report” on our websites, usafhpa.org and usafhpa.com.