Hello to all Grumman American type owners and GPA members.
First, let’s agree that we have one common bond….. (well that could be considered a play oh words….) which is a love for a strangely constructed “bonded” airplane that was the brain child of one “Jim Bede” back in the early 1960s. The BD-1 that became the American Yankee, and descendants through the AA-1 series, AA-5 Series, GA-7 Cougar and then the AGAC and later Tiger Aircraft, LLC “Tiger” all contain the “glue” that Bond” our people together.
Through the last 50 years since the first significant article on the “Yankee” appeared in Flying Magazine, (June, 1965 issue) our airplanes remain a subject of controversy around airport coffee shops and places where pilots gather. Almost any one who has been really exposed to the wonders of these aircraft had, no doubt, rose to the defense of these fantastic planes. This love for a machine, that borders on obsession, is what causes the owners and lovers of them to crave fellowship with others of the same mind and the need to share experiences and passions with each other. Sharing information on parts and maintenance, flying tips, and so on are all part of this common bond.
Nearly 40 years ago a small group of owners and pilots got the idea that there should be a “club” for these airplanes. Unknown to these original 4 owners in Seattle, WA, there was a group of a few owners in Texas that were getting together for formation flight practice and fellowship. Another group in San Jose, CA were getting together and joining with a flying club (affiliated with a Dealership) for fly-ins and fly-outs in Central California.. Others around the US and Canada were either meeting with others or seeking to do so, The word was passed through direct mail and magazine articles and, soon, the official formation of the American Yankee Association came about.
What the organization’s concept was, and what it started out as, went pretty smooth for a few years then, as happens with most organizations, some members felt things were not being done as should be and “power plays” began to surface. Call it growth or evolution, things were changed as the group evolved and those who made many personal sacrifices during the formation were demonized and pushed out. By the end of its first decade of existence, it was hardly recognizable beside the original concept. This tended to repeat itself about every 10 years as leaders were pushed aside as new ones rose to power, This has continued to the current day.
Now, with quite a large number of our ranks of owners and pilots has elected to not participate in the infighting and politics of this organization, wished to become affiliated with a new organization that was spawned by the idea there could be a group that would be run by all volunteers and would operate strictly on the donated funds of members rather than collect dues. It would maintain a serious website offering complete maintenance and operational information material and grow to offer and provide the greatest possible support for its members. This organization was “unofficially” begun in June of 2014 with its inaugural gathering at Rough River Falls, KY. 39 members attended this gathering and shared some very good fellowship, food, drink, and were able to compare airplanes and ideas. Since then some 300 + members have joined and much progress was made to get everything up and running.
WELL….. things were looking up and plans were being laid for the first actual “gathering” to be in Cody, WY for the last week of June, 2015. A sudden move by one of the founders resulted in a “rift” in the organization with mud being slung, claims and accusations being made, and it just, basically, undermined the whole program. My personal feelings were (initially) of the nature of; “WTF happened?” I really don’t have the desire to jump on a burning ship but I feel a fire hose is seriously needed here. After talking with all parties involved, and with my Wife, my initial urge to “bail out” has subsided to my more natural desire to try to salvage the effort and build something I would really like to see succeed.
With all that said, I want to urge all of you who have wished to affiliate with the Grumman Pilots Association to join in a united front to make it happen. The website, which is really the center of communication, is being changed somewhat and the reason for the rift in the first place has been re-structured. The Forum part of the site will be a part of the basic website and every effort made to “uncomplicated” it’s accessibility and simplify using it. Frankly, I was not able to grasp what was going on with the forum as the previous administrator had built it. I’m very good with the airplanes and their care and feeding but really suck in the computer savvy department. I know many of you are really up on the latest technology but I don’t “Tweet, Twitter, or Twat” and will probably never embrace any “social media”. Yep, I’m proud to be a Dinosaur in this current world. All I want to do is enjoy these great airplanes and the fellowship of the fine people who feel the same.
I am urging all of you to stay among the ranks and step up to help make this takeoff and climb to altitude. There will be turbulence and foul weather along the way but if we stay on course and avoid crashing into a mountain, I am sure we will all be winners. Please, just don’t make the mistake of letting politics and petty rivalries screw up something good. If you want to fly, get involved, take an effort to make situations better, not destructive.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please take it for what I intended it to be, a chance to make something good for the advancement of the aircraft we all love. Let’s “bond” like our airplanes. The only intention here is to help each other.