Chief Joseph Flyers oldest in Oregon

Charter Chief Joseph Flyers Club members Harold Klages (left) and Delbert Pratt stand by the club's 172 Cessna Skyhawk. In the background are usage sign-up boards. Photo by Rocky Wilson

Chartered in August 1946, the Chief Joseph Flyers Club is the oldest, still-solvent flying club in Oregon, says 22-year-member Bill Ables. The club now has 33 members and two airplanes, a 182 Cessna Skylane and a 172 Cessna Skyhawk.

Eleven people are licensed to fly both aircraft and all of the members are licensed to fly the smaller 172 Skyhawk.

In the 58 years that the club has been in existence there has only been one injury or fatality accident. That came May 30, 1948, when 21-year-old pilot Ted H. Smith and 18-year-old passenger Jean Rinehart were killed when the Piper Cub they were flying crashed in a field. That crash was attributed to pilot error, not a mechanical failure.

Planes have been damaged by deer on the runway, but no injuries were sustained in those mishaps.

An early member of the club was Bessie Halladay Butterfield who was the first woman licensed aviation instructor in Oregon and the second licensed woman pilot. She was the fixed-base operator of the Joseph Airport which was built in 1943. She stayed on in that position until 1957.

A charter member of the club and early instructor was Jack Cathcart. Like Butterfield, he was an FAA approved check-out pilot who enabled prospective flyers to receive their private licenses.

The club began at the Joseph Airport and has since relocated to the Enterprise Airport which first began receiving plane traffic in 1958. Up until that time planes in the Enterprise area had landed at nearby Dunsmore Field.

Joe Spence has been the club's licensed instructor for the past 20-plus years. At present he and Tim Locke are the only instructors among the 33 members. Dave Young acts as the club's mechanic.

The club meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in their space at the Enterprise Airport.

Ables says that the club has by-laws that the members adhere to. Planes are checked out on a sign-up board up to three months in advance and are not allowed to be checked out for more than two weekends at a time. Members pay dues to cover hangar rent and insurance, then are charged a fixed rate for engine time when they check out an airplane.

Current officers of the club are president Greg Brink, vice-president Mike Coppin and secretary-treasurer Jackie Haggerty as secretary/treasurer.

In the early years of the Chief Joseph Flyers Club two other flying clubs - the Hells Canyon Flyers and the Eagle Cap Flyers - were formed. The Hells Canyon Flyers disbanded after about five years while the Eagle Cap Flyers eventually merged with the Chief Joseph Flyers Club.

Though a complete list of Chief Joseph Flyers Club charter members was not available, known charter members included Harold Klages, Andy Brennan, Mike Brennan, Kirk Hayes, Dan Russell, Malcolm Dawson, Delbert Pratt, C. Raymond Johnson, Jack Cathcart and Amos Evans.

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