Florida Warbirds, EAA Warbird Squadron 24, Inc. was founded in October
2000 by Earl Walsh, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and owner/pilot of a
North American T-28 Trojan. It started with only a handful of Warbird
enthusiasts who believed there was a need for a local Squadron. Since
its inception membership continues to expand. Members are scattered
throughout Florida. Florida Warbirds is the only EAA Warbird Squadron
Florida Warbirds, EAA Warbird Squadron 24, Inc. is affiliated with the
EAA and EAA Warbirds of America. Squadron 24 members are required to be
members of both organizations.
Our goals are to educate our members and the public in the history,
preservation, safe operation and maintenance of World War II and other
such historic aircraft. Squadron 24 members are a diverse group of
Warbird enthusiasts, some of whom own Warbirds, others who enjoy
maintaining them and yet some who are just in love with them? Many of
the SquadronÕs aircraft are displayed at various aviation
events throughout Florida where sometimes they are demonstrated in
formation flights and combat simulations.
EAA Warbird Squadron 24 also participates in the Young Eagles Flight
Program in association with local EAA chapters. In this regard, we have
fundraising events to sponsor candidates to attend the EAA Air Academy
Summer Camp in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This is a most rewarding and
educational experience for young people interested in aviation and a
chance to learn new skills and make new friends, too.
Our members are not only Warbird enthusiasts, but educators as well. If
you would like more information about Florida Warbirds, please contact
President Jim "Zack" Olzacki at
or write to the address below.
EAA Warbird Squadron 24, Inc.
3954 Crooked Island Drive
Punta Gorda, FL 33950-8128
Florida Warbirds is a non-profit 501©(3) Corporation.
Warbirds of America
It was in Reno in 1964 that the concept of a club for warbird owners,
whose members could discuss mutual problems in keeping their airplanes
airborne, was conceived. Walt Ohlrich, Jr., a U.S. Navy Commander who
raced an F8F Bearcat, and others on the west coast formed the Warbirds
of America, Inc., which was incorporated on March 25, 1966.
The original intent was for owners and operators of World War II combat
Membership in the first year grew dramatically, thanks to the efforts
of Walt and regional presidents Jerry Walbrun, Pete Brucia and Frank
Sanders. Walt Ohlrich became the first president; Pete Brucia took over
in 1967 when Commander Ohlrich was assigned a combat tour in Vietnam.
It was at that time that the Warbirds of America became a division of
EAA. It was also in 1967 that the Warbirds of America began to include
the T-6/SNJ/Harvard, so the membership ranks grew even more.
As the years progressed, so did the organization. Membership increased,
with enthusiasts being accepted, and additional ex-military aircraft
types entered the picture as they were surplused by the armed forces
and as warbirds were recovered from all over the world and made flyable
again. Even the liaison aircraft were welcome and within the past
decade, a major influx of jet aircraft has swelled the ranks.
The purpose of this Squadron is to:
Promote, encourage, and facilitate an atmosphere where all are welcome
to join-in and become a part of recreational aviation.
Promote and encourage the preservation and operation of World War II
and other such aircraft that are representative of military aviation
Educate its members and other interested persons, in methods of safe
operation and maintenance of World War II and other such aircraft that
are representative of military aviation operations.
Promote a positive, productive, and cooperative relationship between
the Squadron and those governmental agencies and private enterprises
that provide aviation services and facilities to the members of the
Promote, encourage, and facilitate membership in the EAA (Experimental
Aircraft Association, Inc.) and the EAA Warbirds of America, Inc.
Support and promote the mission, vision, goals and objectives of the
EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc.) and the EAA Warbirds of
America, Inc., through programs and services within the Squadron
In addition we will:
Promote exposure to, recognition and support from the public
Maintain a relationship with various entities and the community
Board Members (non
||Jim "Zack" Olzacki
After our March meeting I was talking with Don Stamp in reference to
the proposed tower closure at PGD. He informed me that he had talked to
the tower manager and was reassured that they would be in operation for
the NATA, North American Trainer Association, formation clinic that was
scheduled to take place next weekend.
I approached him about the possibility of my sitting in on the
Formation Ground School and he said that that was fine and if I liked I
could come by sometime during the week and possibly get a
'back seat' for one of their flights. How could I
I arrived on Tuesday morning to find them all in the ‘Food
Simulator’. They were already in 'formation mode' as there
was talk of when, where and how. They were
already getting prepared for the day.
I was privileged to sit in on the briefing and was greatly impressed on
the degree of professionalism displayed by all involved including the
backseaters who I learned later did a lot more than just go along for
I listened as Don gave the briefing, from the Start of engines, through
the taxi and Takeoff. I was particularly interested in his discussion
of possible problems during takeoff and how they would be handled. He
discussed the join up after Takeoff and the issues that might crop up
during the training exercise and how to handle them. His briefing was
complete, all the way to exiting the runway and the taxi to parking.
All handled by a true professional and all listened intently and asked
several questions as they were unfamiliar to the Airport and its
surroundings. Frequencies were jotted down on kneeboards and not until
all were satisfied was the time for taxi agreed upon.
Needless to say the flight went flawlessly as we joined up and went
thru some basic formation drills. My appetite for flying satisfied for
the day I thanked all involved and departed. I was looking forward to
Friday's Ground School.
I arrived for the 0800 joint briefing and again was impressed with the
thoroughness and completeness of the discussions. I was particularly
impressed by the copies of the local sectional chart, complete with
locations of the designated practice areas and the radials that
separated them. On the back of the laminated sectional was the Airport
diagram for PGD. A 'Training Briefing Card' was
also handed out that included all necessary information with areas to
write all pertinent information.
The formation ground school for all us 'Newbees' was as thorough a
discussion as I have
had the pleasure to be part of. I sat on my hands and taped my mouth
shut as to let those who were to be involved with training ask all the
At the end all were asked if there were any questions and all through
the discussions Safety, Safety, Safety was stressed and discussed.
I was asked at the end if I wanted a back seat but declined as I had
found out the importance of the position on helping the frontseater
both during the training exercise and the debrief.
Now I know that to some of you this is commonplace but to an old 727
driver I have never flown formation. My purpose in writing this is to
stress how important
the 'Preparation' is for any flight. We did this in
my airline days and I try to stress this in my training flights with
flight reviews and Instrument Proficiencies. I myself have always had a
copy of the local area, a frequency card and an airport diagram in
front of me for all flights and stress this to anyone I fly with in a
training environment. As a safety pilot I always have one to lead by
In these days it is easy to print out copies prior to any
flight from your home computer.
My whole point is if it is that if the airlines stress this and the
Formation Clinics stress this why isn't it a worthwhile
practice during our everyday flights. If we 'don't
have the time' to copy a diagram or review the data and just
get lazy with today's 'Electronic
Wizardry' then I feel we are doing ourselves and our
passengers an injustice. You would expect it of them.
Take the time to properly prepare for a flight. Take the time to brief
and also debrief. Do this even if you are the only one on this flight.
I just issued a Flight review and an Instrument Proficiency Check to
one of the members of 565. His prep and details made it a pleasurable
experience for the both of us. He had reviewed the plan for the day and
looked over the approach charts. He was prepared and even debriefed his
performance to me as we rode back to the FBO.
Such professionalism as demonstrated by the NATA members and this
individual are standouts as we try to reduce the accident rate both in
GA and the Warbird
community. Thank you for your time. I am always available for anyone
who has any questions or concerns.
Blue Skys and Tailwinds,
Director of Safety and Flying Activities