Editor's Notes
James Keniston

Happy New Year! We are aware of our blessings at the museum as volunteers and patrons of all levels have helped to ensure that we have been able to survive a turbulent 2020. We hope that 2021 brings a return to a semblance of normality in terms of resuming our operation for in-person activities. In the meantime, we honor those that have helped us establish the museum as we know it today and are grateful for the huge interest that we see week to week and month to month through our troops on the ground. We wish the very best of health and happiness to you and yours for this coming year.
A Sad Transition

We have just lost one of the Museum's dearest friends and most devoted supporters. Stephen R. Smith passed on Christmas Day, after a brief illness. We all join with his family in lamenting our loss.

Of course, Steve's passing is a loss to many, in addition to his family. He has for decades been a valued and respected professional colleague to everyone in the aerospace community, an integral participant in many civic organizations and charities, and of course, an indispensable member of our Museum family.

To the aerospace community, Steve's achievements and honors are legendary. After receiving both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, Steve immediately began to demonstrate his superior intellect and technological creativity, proving his value in a variety of venues. Eventually joining the Northrop company (now Northrop Grumman), Steve quickly rose through the ranks, serving in positions of ever-increasing responsibility and importance. Among these were Vice President: Engineering, Program Manager of several major development and production programs, and finally, as General Manager of the Aircraft Division. Perhaps the position which has proved to be the most influential throughout the industry was his tenure as Program Manager of the Tacit Blue program, which achieved major new scientific discoveries, and innovative new engineering and manufacturing inventions. This program has had substantial influence on all subsequent development of low-observable aircraft and other weapons systems. His many professional honors reflect these achievements, having been named a Senior Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a founding member of the Pioneers of Stealth, along with many other honors.
To us, at the Western Museum of Flight, Steve has been a patriarch. From the very beginning of the institution, he has offered his time, talents, and influence, to ensure that the Museum received the leadership and sponsorship necessary to succeed and grow. Always available for any issue that warranted his attention, Steve has contributed to the evolution of the Museum from a small restoration workshop with adjacent display space, to its current configuration with attractive and informative displays, extensive archives, restoration facilities, and outdoor exhibits of entire aircraft. Without Steve's business and technological advice, as well as his financial support, none of this would have been possible. Most of all, Steve was a friend to us all. He took a personal interest in our lives and ambitions, always listened attentively to anyone's ideas, and treated everyone with respect and friendship. His passing is deeply saddening to all of us. But, in a very real, tangible way, Steve's presence will always remain within our hearts, and within the walls of the Museum that he loved and nurtured. Photos (top): Cindy Macha with Steve Smith, (bottom): Steve with T.V. Jones - Chairman and Chief Executive of Northrop Grumman.
Director's Notes
Cindy Macha

Of course, the loss of Steve Smith is a tragedy to us all. To me, I lost a beloved mentor and inspirational friend. He was the founding champion of this museum.

Despite the fact that we have all endured a collective hardship, special people have found it in their hearts to maintain their support of the museum through our Year End Appeal. And you are those special people. On behalf of the board of trustees and all of our members, volunteers, and supporters, I thank you so very much.

A note of thanks goes out to Bruce Guberman, who has stepped up and worked tirelessly through this period of forced shut-down to keep our museum programs alive by filming and editing the monthly private tour video series which you will find on our YouTube channel.
Your Private Museum Tour -
Episodes 11 & 12

The Northrop RQ-4 Global Hawk has been airborne for 22 years – this remarkable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (or UAV) has supported military operations through reconnaissance and battlefield communications. In our 11th presentation Col. Bob Ettinger joined us to discuss Global Hawk and the termination capability of these aircraft that is so important for continued safe operation in an increasingly diverse airspace. As Manager of Flight Test for Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk program, Bob had the responsibility of ensuring the variants RQ-4A/RQ-4B performed as required within their sphere of operations. Watch the video here. Photo: Northrop Grumman
We love our F-14 Tomcat and in episode 12 were lucky to be joined by Mike Rabens - decorated TOPGUN Navy Pilot graduate who flew right off the deck of the USS Enterprise. Mike talked to us extensively about the F-14 and all the features he learned so much about during his 19 years flying this beautiful fighter jet. With its swing-wings, twin tails, and incredible weapons capabilities there is so much to appreciate on this icon of the skies. Watch the video herePhoto: Betty & Jarel Wheaton
Museum Receives Missileers Grant

Cindy Macha receives a grant award from Bob Kelchner, board member of the Association of Air Force Missileers (CMSgt/Chief, US Air Force Ret.). Docent Joe Provenzano (at left in picture) created a compelling proposal outlining the Evolution of Missile Defense and the role of Southern California - both in the development of the technology and the deployment of the systems. This donation will support the creation of an exhibit including a display of artifacts plus a continuous video.
Archive Extra - Yom Kippur Missions

Last month Jim Shelton wrote us a detailed account of his grueling recon mission during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 - flying the SR-71 Blackbird. Read the article here.
Archive Extra - Viking Roundels

Also in December James Keniston shared a little of the history of the Northrop N-3PB which was Jack Northrop's first production aircraft at Hawthorne's Plant One in 1940. Read the article here.
Become a Contributor

We know that many of you reading this are former members of Southern California's aerospace industry and may have some interesting stories and experiences from your careers. We ask you to consider sharing some of these stories with us, whether about a particular company's aircraft project/program or during the course of military service associated with one of the many aircraft types built in SoCal. Examples include recent articles about the Yom Kippur Missions by Jim Shelton and the Northrop N-3PB. We look to preserve these stories before they are lost to time.

Our mission is to preserve the histories of the aircraft built here in Southern California, primarily airframes in earlier times, for the defense of our nation, experimental research air vehicles, spacecraft and commercial airliners. Lockheed (Burbank, Palmdale); Douglas/McDonnell Douglas (Santa Monica, El Segundo, Long Beach), Hughes (Culver City, El Segundo), North American Aviation/Rockwell/Boeing (LAX, Downey, Palmdale), Boeing (Long Beach), Northrop Grumman (Hawthorne, El Segundo, Palmdale), Vultee (Downey), Consolidated/Convair/General Dynamics (San Diego), TRW/Northrop Grumman (Redondo Beach), SpaceX (Hawthorne), Robinson Helicopters (Torrance), these amongst all the larger companies.

We look to the future as well, as history continues to be written with new initiatives and opportunities for further space exploration. We'll help to polish up the words if you are not a professional writer. Or it may simply be an interesting photo(s) with a caption added to tell the story.

Please contact us directly via email: edit@wmof.com, with your thoughts and comments.