By: Jim Butcher | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2015
Donna and Jim Mills take a break from preparing for the 14th annual Hangar Dance. Jim emphasizes that this is the Spirit of Tulsa Squadron’s major fundraiser, and the couple invites anyone interested in aviation and honoring America’s veterans to come out and enjoy the evening.
Tickets are now on sale for the 14th annual “Keep ’Em Flying” Hangar Dance on Saturday, November 7. The all-day event is both a fundraiser and celebration for America’s freedom and the veterans who helped pay the price for that freedom. The event will be at the Jenks Riverside Campus of Tulsa Technology Center, located adjacent to the R.L Jones/Riverside airport at 801 E. 91st St. in Tulsa, northwest of downtown Jenks.
Conducted by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Spirit of Tulsa Squadron, the event brings together people of all ages who are interested in keeping aviation history alive “through the acquisition, restoration and preservation of combat aircraft, who love good food, live music and dancing,” says Jim Mills. The event kicks off at 6 p.m., through 11 p.m., and is CAF Spirit of Tulsa Squadron’s biggest event of the year.
The Spirit of Tulsa Squadron will provide free honor flights for WWII veterans to ride in the fully restored Fairchild PT-19, which “truly lived up to its nickname, the Cradle of Heroes. It was one of a handful of primary trainer designs that were the first stop on a cadet’s way to becoming a combat pilot,” Mills said.
Non WWII vets wanting to ride in the plane can do so with the purchase of a flight ticket. Flight passengers must be 12 years or older. There will also be plenty of exhibits featuring vintage WWII memorabilia, military vehicles, model aircraft and more. Attendees are invited to tour the facility, learn about the history of aircraft and vehicles, and bid in a silent auction.
General admission tickets are $35 in advance and at the door. For those wanting to sponsor a table for eight, the price is $240 and must be purchased in advance. Both general admission and sponsor tickets include swing dance lessons. Raffle tickets for a PT-19 ride, photo with Warbird of your choice, and T-shirt will be available for purchase. Pizza and soft drinks will be for sale as well.
The soirée will feature the 18-piece Sounds of Music Orchestra, providing the soundtrack for the evening and performing 1940s-era music. The Big Band Hangar Dance has become a favorite amongst swing dancers, with several troupes attending every year from around the country. Free swing dance lessons will be provided from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Those who have attended the Hangar Dance previously will now experience a major change, said Donna Mills, Jim’s wife. “Previously some guests expressed negative comments about the speaker system filling the huge hangar that easily exceeds 35,000 square feet. The new system will be suspended from the ceiling and will make a huge difference.”
Another change regular attendees will experience is a World War II Newsreel Theater along with vintage radio broadcasts and an antique radio exhibit. As a curator of many restored combat aircraft, the CAF participates in air shows across the country. The Spirit of Tulsa Squadron is no different, and proudly shows its World War II era Fairchild PT-19 around the region. When it’s not showing off, it rests in the CAF hangar at Jenks- Riverside Airport.
Tickets for the dance may be purchased online at
www.caftulsa.org, or by calling (918) 381-0805. PayPal, Visa and MasterCard are accepted.
Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.
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