All posts by Jeff DeMello

New Web Site!

Welcome to our new web site!  After many painstaking hours of archiving old photos, stories, and articles, the Stockton Field Aviation Museum is proud to feature our new web site.  It is much easier to navigate and find stories and topics of interest to our followers.

Thank you to Jeff DeMello for donating his time on doing this web update!  We are looking forward keeping our patrons and web visitors up to date with the museums latest activities and offerings.


Raymond Kinney – Guest Speaker

Raymond Kinney will be our guest speaker and will share his aviation experience with us.  His accomplishments are as follows:

  • c 1939 – I became interested in aviation just before and during the Battle of Britain. I began building and flying model airplanes – an activity that continues today
  • 1947 – I went on my first flight in an early model Luscombe Silvaire
  • 1949 – After high school graduation, I joined the Air Force Reserve at Hamilton Air Force Base. Served as an airborne radio operator in C-46 Commando Aircraft. I also flew in AT-6, AT-7 and AT-11 aircraft.
  • 1950 – Enrolled at San Jose State University Department of Aeronautics. I also enrolled in the Air Force ROTC Commissioning Program. Elected president of Alpha Eta Rho International Aviation Fraternity  (Two Semesters)
  •  8 June 1956 – Graduated from San Jose State with a BA degree in aviation and a commission in the USAF.
  • 25 Jan 1957 – Entered extended active duty in the USAF for officer pre-flight training at Lackland AFB, TX
  •  22 Apr 1957 – Assigned to 3301st Pilot Training Group at Moore AB, Mission Texas for primary pilot training. Soloed the T-34 A on 22 May 1957. Soloed the T-28 A on 8 July 1957. Graduated primary on 15 October 1957 and assigned to 3640 Pilot Training Squadron – T-33 A at Laredo AFB, Texas. I soloed in T-33 A on 15 January 1958. On 10 February 1958, designated pilot – day fighter
  • 16 May 1958 – My assignment to advanced training – KC 97 at Randolph AFB was cancelled, and I, along with 2 classmates were eliminated from further flight training
  •  2 July 1958 – Assigned to Harlingen AFB Texas for undergraduate navigator training in Convair T-29 aircraft
  • 30 Aug 1958 – I joined the first established aeroclub in the USAF. Flew Aeronca 7 AC, Piper PA-12 and PA-22, T-34 A
  •  6 Mar 1959 – I passed the flight check for a private pilot certificate ASEL. 
  • 6 July 1959 – I graduated from USAF navigator training and was retained as an instructor, eventually becoming a flight examiner for basic DR, day celestial and night celestial navigation. Elected secretary of Institute of Navigation 
  • 28 July 1961 – Reassigned to James Connally AFB after Harlingen AFB closed. Served as instructor and flight examiner for DR, day and night celestial and polar grid navigation. I continued to fly with the Connally Aero Club in Cessna 150, 172, 182 and T-34 A, becoming a check pilot in the T-34 and secretary of the Aero Club Board of Governors. 
  • 11 May 1963 – Awarded a regular commission, Line of the Air Force
  •  3 Mar 1965 – Assigned to survival training at Stead AFB prior to overseas assignment 
  • 7 Apr 1965 – Reported to 35th Troop Carrier Squadron at Naha, Okinawa as navigator and instructor in Lockheed C-130 A aircraft. For the next 3 years and 2 months I flew 255 combat missions and 755 combat hours over North and South Vietnam. Returned to the US 21 June 1968.
  •  29 Aug 1968 – Reported to Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Training Center, Eglin AFB, Florida as instructor/standardization flight examiner in HC-130 H/N/P aircraft.
  • 15 Nov 1969 – Began commercial flight training (GI Bill) at Enterprise Aviation at Crestview, Florida
  •  7 Sept 1970 – Passed multi-engine private flight check, Enterprise, Alabama,  Hoover Moore DPE 
  • 30 June 1971 – Reassigned to Hill AFB, Utah – 1550 ARR Training Wing with relocation of rescue school from Eglin AFB
  •  30 July 1972  – Reassigned to 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing  (MAC), Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Served as wing assistant chief of aircrew standardization, chief navigation flight examiner, wing staff navigator. Supervised the activities of 22 wing and squadron navigators in an area from the Mississippi River westward to the Indian Ocean. Flew in rescue precautionary orbit for “Eagle Pull” (evacuation of Phnom Penh). Acted as PACAF Rescue Advisor for “Frequent Wind” (evacuation of Saigon)
  •  21 July 1974 – Awarded Aeronautical Rating of Master Navigator 
  • 30 Nov 1975 –  Reassigned to McClellan AFB, Sacramento, California as Senior Emergency Actions Officer
  • 2 July 1977 – Resumed pilot training for commercial and instruments, Engle Flying Service
  • 28 Feb 1978 – Retired from active duty, USAF as Major with 21 years service
  • 15 Mar 1978 – Passed FAA instrument rating flight check, Martin Keane, DPE
  • 17 Mar 1978 – Passed FAA Commercial Pilot flight check, Martin Keane, DPE
  • 16 June 1978 – Passed FAA CFI-A flight check, George Roope, Sac GADO
  • 15 July 1978 – Hired by Engle Flying Service, Phoenix Field, as a flight instructor
  • 21 Sep 1978 – Passed FAA CFI-I, Howie Wheelock, Sac GADO
  • 26 Dec 1979 – Passed Assistant Flight Instructor check Part 141, Bud Andersen ,Sac GADO.
  • 19 Feb 1980 – Passed Part 135 Air Taxi check, Martin Keane, DPE
  • 2 Sept 1980 – 1st CFI renewal – Awarded Gold Seal. Total time as CFI: 2128 hours
  • 6 Dec 1985 – Engle Flying Service closed. Hired by Patterson Aircraft as CFI-Part 141
  • 4 Nov 1986 – Commercial multi-engine flight check complete
  • 6 Nov 1986 – Appointed Chief Flight Instructor Part 141 at Patterson Aircraft Company, flight check by Richard Neilson, Sac FSDO
  • 9 June 1989 – Passed CFI multi-engine flight check, Martin Keane, DPE
  • 26 Sept 1995 – Coronary Artery blockage requiring 2-way bypass operation; normal recovery, no heart damage. While awaiting a special issuance medical, I taught private and instrument ground school and simulator training at Paterson and Skywalk School
  • 16 Oct 1997 – Received a special issuance Class III medical certificate. I resumed flight instruction at Skywalk and flew another 1000 hours before officially retiring from active flight instruction on 1 June 2002 after 24 years.
  • 18 June 2003 – Last flight as a sole manipulator of controls RDD-SAC, T-182 RG 757HF, Dr. Renollett, PIC
  • 22 Sept 2011 – Flew at the Salinas Airshow in a Tora Tora Tora modified AT-6 “Zeke” five-ship formation with Commemorative Air Force pilot “Col” Mike Burke

Stockton Lands Rare Warbird

2011.04.17 - Stockton Record Photo

Stockton RecordApril 17, 2011

In 1945, as American military strategists laid plans to invade Japan, the U.S. Navy ordered a new patrol bomber airplane: the Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon.

Lockheed manufactured only 35 of the final version, the PV-2D, before the atomic bomb abruptly ended the war. Only one still flies. Preservationists based at Stockton’s airport recently acquired this rare bird.

“It’s kind of like getting the keys to the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument and taking it out for a spin,” said Ken Terpstra. “That’s how much a part of our history this airplane actually is.”

Terpstra is Vice President of Stockton Field Aviation Museum, a surprising private collection of large and small WWII artifacts in the process of becoming a public museum.

The purpose of the organization, which takes its name from a WWII Stockton airbase, and is in a hangar, is “to educate the public about the sacrifices our veterans have made … and to honor them with actual working restorations of the tools they used.”

The PV-2D was a deadly tool. A six-man crew could fly the 75-foot aircraft 1,790 miles with 4,000 pounds of bombs in its belly, and two 1,000-pound bombs under its wings, or eight rockets.

In addition, the plane bristled with eight .50 caliber machine guns in its nose and two fired by a top turret gunner. It also had an advanced “radome” radar in its nose.

These capabilities allowed the PV-2 series to hunt enemy ships and subs or fly out of bases as remote as the Aleutian Islands on bombing runs all the way to Japanese-occupied islands in the South Pacific.

“I can’t imagine flying over the water that far, arriving at a small island out in the middle of nowhere, dropping your bombs and getting back,” said Terpstra.

The Harpoon was also designed to support America’s land invasion of the Japanese home islands. But V-J Day arrived before the museum’s Harpoon saw action.

The plane was flown straight to a boneyard in Arizona. There, protected from corrosion by desert air, it sat until 1959.

Finally, with only seven hours of flying time on it, the plane was declared surplus, sold and modified into an air tanker.

It alternated fighting fires from Pennsylvania to Idaho with down time, racking up only 800 hours of flying time – relatively few compared with other planes that flew up to 7,000 when modified into private transports or ag-spray planes.

It is the airborne equivalent of the car the little old lady drove to church only on Sundays.

A private collector bought the Harpoon in 1994. He parked it on his land near Hidden Valley. He did nothing with it for six years.

An Alaskan firm that distributes gasoline by airplane bought the plane in 2000 with the idea of retrofitting more engines on it flying fuel to remote customers.

Their plans didn’t work out. The plane remained unclaimed in Hidden Valley. The Alaskans offered it to the museum late last year.

Museum President Taigh Ramey recalled when he flew a crew up to a dirt airstrip outside Hidden Valley and first laid eyes on the old warbird.

“It was on the ground, buried up to the axles and up to its belly in reeds,” said Ramey. “All sorts of squirrels and critters were living in it. She looked pretty sorry.”

But the plane still had no corrosion. As for the two 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney engines, reportedly able to outrun a Japanese Zero – “The first day we got the first engine running – after 16 years,” Ramey marveled. Added Terpstra, “It was like she wanted to get back in the air.”

Deciding the plane was salvageable, the museum staff obtained special permission from the FAA to fly it to Stockton. They have been restoring it ever since.

It is the only D series Harpoon flying, one of three out of the entire A-D production series still in the air.

The next stage is to restore the U.S. Navy’s WWII paint job of “Non-Specular Sea Blue” (flat blue) an estimated $10,000 task.

The museum is seeking veterans’ groups, service clubs or private citizens willing to make a tax-deductible donation.

It also welcomes donations of WWII aviation artifacts. Donate by calling (209) 982-0273 or emailing Terpstra at

“We want it to be a time capsule people can step into and see what their fathers and grandfathers did,” Terpstra said of the plane. “We want this to be a flying tribute not only to our WWII vets but all vets. Without them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today.”

Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or

Kay Kyser and his Big Band – 1942

Kay Kyser was a hugely popular big band leader before Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman or Tommy Dorsey. Circa 1941-1943 Big Bands at a USO show at Stockton California Air Field. During WWll this air field was home to the Westcoast Army Air Corp Training Center.

Video courtesy of Roy Perez. Music audio background is from the 1974 Stockton Commodores Drum and Bugle Corps.