In both his military and civilian careers, Glen Fike of Beavercreek has spent much time working with aircraft. “I retired as a colonel at Wright-Patterson AFB, having worked on the F-16 and F-22 programs,” he said. After retiring, Fike stayed in the Dayton area. “I work for BAE Systems now. We do F-16 cockpit upgrades. I work with airplanes all day long.” Outside of work, Fike’s interest in aviation centers on building and flying replica WWI aircraft.
Fike said these WWI airplanes are more accessible to the average pilot than many other types. “We build our aircraft in the garage at home,” he said. These aircraft are built by using simple, inexpensive construction techniques and are powered by car engines.
Fike and his friend Rick Hoover of Centerville have built two airplanes so far, which they fly from the Andy Barnhart Memorial Airport in New Carlisle. “Our latest aircraft is a replica of a Fokker E.V that was delivered in July 1918 to Germany,” said Fike.
Hoover commented, “Glen builds the planes because that’s what you have to do to fly them. I like to work on planes, and I guess if you build them, you should fly them, too.”
Fike said his and Hoover’s hobby is shared by a group of Dayton area pilots. “We have a local club here in Dayton called the Wright Patrol, named after Wright Field. We like to get together and fly for fun.” Some of their aircraft are equipped with smoke systems and simulated weapons that these pilots use to simulate aerial combat. He said flight with these systems, “adds another dimension to flight that most pilots don’t get to experience.”
This Saturday and Sunday these pilots and builders will display their aircraft at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force during their bi-annual Dawn Patrol Rendezvous.
“We do the Dawn Patrol for the educational value,” said Fike, who will fly in the Dawn Patrol for his fourth time this year. This year’s show will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI. Replica WWI aircraft will fly throughout the day, and at times, engage in mock battles with infantry.
The Dawn Patrol is more than an aviation event. Vintage cars, re-enactors, weapon collectors and enthusiasts of other aspects of WWI will be well represented.
Fike said the Museum’s goal for the Dawn Patrol is to, “create an event that will immerse the average person in the entire WWI genre.”
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