In 75 major air tours no one got a scratch, although Ralph Service landed in a coal mine all right, a strip mine and Angus McKinnon, flying one of his converted Grumman Widgeons, landed in Death Valley on a salt bed as rough as the surface of the moon. Those air tours did more to promote aviation than anything did since Lindbergh flew the Atlantic. But their time is past. Today’s pilots with their fast, long-range sophisticated aircraft and their instrument ratings no longer need to flock together.
CACC'ers still get together a couple of times a year for mini-tours to Mexico or Canadian fishing holes, or the trip to Harlingen, Texas to see the Confederate Air Force restage World War II, but the day of the major air tour is long gone.
The club’s fame in aviation circles still lures truly distinguished visitors like Col. Gordon Fullerton, Oregon’s own astronaut, pilot on the third flight of the space Shuttle Columbia, which made the first emergency landing in the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Other well-known visitors over the past years include Lt. Gen. “Jimmy” Doolittle of WWII fame; Astronaut Stuart Roosa, Apollo XIV; Georgi F. Baidukov, Co-pilot and Alexander V. Belyakov, Navigator, two of the three crew members of the first trans-polar flight that flew from Russia to Pearson Field, Vancouver, in 1937; Pilot/Author Ernie Gann, Bob Hoover, Art Scholl and Ernie Brace, famous Marine Corps Aviator.
As time marches on, fewer and fewer CACCers remember Doc White, the catalyst who started it all. He was a prophet, not without honor in his hometown. While serving on the Port of Portland, he predicted the boom in airline traffic and fought for longer runways. He predicted that airliners won’t increase much in number but in size. He predicted passenger trains would be out of business by 1970. It is a measure of his modesty that although he was the CACC’s sparkplug for more than 20 years, he never served as president. He shunned the limelight. He died Sunday, January 25, 1970, in Honolulu of a sudden heart attack.
Lev Richards, Aviation Editor for The Oregon Journal and The Oregonian