Monthly Archives: September 2015

St. Louis Space Frontier Hosts Second Annual Gateway to Space Development Conference

The St. Louis Space Frontier, a chapter of the National Space Society, held the second annual Gateway to Space Development Conference at the James S. McDonnell Prologue Room at Boeing St. Louis on Saturday.  The conference focused on commercial space applications, and included a series of speakers relating their first-hand experiences with commercial space projects.  In between the scheduled presentations, attendees toured the James S. McDonnell Prologue Room, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the McDonnell Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing contributions to the aerospace industry.  Other local organizations, including the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, The Space Museum at Bonne Terre and Missouri Aviation Historical Society, brought exhibits that were well-received by conference attendees.

James S. McDonnell Prologue Room entrance
Zach Kromer shows his photos in the lobby during registration
Military Aircraft exhibit
Closer look at large F-15E model
Commercial Aircraft exhibit
Curator Mike Burke with Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum
Curator Mike Burke discusses an item in the museum’s exhibit
Mercury Engineering Development Fixture on display
Gemini Engineering Development Fixture on display
New Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft model
Jim Merriman from The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO

Myron Lane from the Missouri Aviation Historical Society

Aviation Community Mourns Passing of Carl “Chub” Wheeler

The Midwest Aviation community mourns the passing of aviation icon Carl “Chub” Wheeler September 17 at the age of 103.  Chub began his flying career at Curtiss-Steinberg Airport, now St. Louis Downtown Airport, and received his pilot’s license in 1935. He became an instructor before and during World War II, airport manager and corporate pilot. He was a Life Member of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum that resides in historic 1929 Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at the airport, and 2014 inductee into the IL Aviation Hall of FameOur condolences go out to his family and our aviation family as well.   Below, “Chub” Wheeler with daughter, Mary Kay, September 13, 2015. 




Aviation Community Remembers Test Pilot, Humanitarian Joe Dobronski


Joseph Francis Dobronski, Sr.
September 10, 1927 – September 5, 2015
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Born: September 10, 1927
Place of Birth: Patton, Pennsylvania
Death: September 5, 2015
Place of Death: Creve Coeur, Missouri


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Dobronski, Joseph Francis, Sr., baptized into the hope of Christ’s resurrection, Saturday, September 5, 2015.

Beloved husband of Ginny Dobronski; loving father of Joseph F. (Kelly) Dobronski, Jr., Kati (Ralph) Rosato, David (Laura) Dobronski and Stephen (Cecelia) Dobronski; loving grandfather of 9 and great-grandfather of 5, dear uncle, great-uncle, cousin and friend to many.

J.F. “JOE” DOBRONSKI graduated from high school in western Pennsylvania and entered the Navy V-5 Program in 1945. He attended Worchester Polytechnic Institute and Cornell University prior to preflight. He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1947. Joe flew in VA-1L and VX-3 prior to discharge in 1949 and then the Naval Reserve until 1954. After graduation from Northrop Aeronautical Institute in 1951, he worked as a Flight Test Engineer at McDonnell Aircraft in St Louis, Missouri; became a production test pilot in 1953 flying the F2H Banshee, and was promoted to experimental pilot after graduation from the United States Air Force Test Pilot’s School in 1954. As an experimental test pilot, and later Chief Test Pilot in 1966, he helped develop the Demon, Voodoo, Phantom II, Eagle, Harrier, Hornet and other experimental aircraft and a three jet helicopter.

Joe became Director of Test Operations for McDonnell Douglas in 1972 and Director of Flight Test and Operations in 1976. Following retirement in 1984, he became Chief Pilot for Wings of Hope, a humanitarian organization where he worked for fifteen years. He flew medical missions in Central America, and also delivered aircraft for missions in Belize, Botswana, South Africa, and the Galapagos Islands. With over 1700 hours instructing, he was awarded the FAA Central Region Flight Instructor of the Year 2000 Award. He was recently awarded the James G Byrnes Excellence in Aviation Award for 2015.

He was a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and was granted an Honorary Doctorate Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He was actively instructing aerobatics and sailplanes in which he held the Diamond C award. In 1998, he self-published a book titled “A Sky Full of Challenges” (now an E-Book web page www.Smashwords). Joe married Virginia Hausmann in 1957 and lived in Ballwin, MO.

Joe was accomplished in his faith, his family and his passion as an aviator.

Services: Funeral from the SCHRADER Funeral Home and Crematory, 14960 Manchester Road at Holloway, Ballwin, Tuesday, 11:15 a.m. to St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church, Ellisville for 11:30 a.m. Mass. Interment Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made toWings of Hope or Birthright. Visitation Monday 4-6 p.m. Friends may sign the family’s on-line guestbook at


Funeral Mass

Tuesday September 8, 2015, 11:30 AM at Saint Clare of Assisi Catholic Church
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Tuesday September 8, 2015 at National Cemetery
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Monday September 7, 2015, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM at Schrader Funeral Home and Crematory
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Museum Exhibits Updated, Aircraft Begin Restoration

The Gallery exhibits at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum have been updated recently to improve the layout and visibility of the displays.  Curator Mike Burke has been the driving force behind improving the visitor experience at the museum over the last several years, and has made much progress in what is a constant evaluation and improvement process.  The museum has recently received several excellent display cases from the nearby Boeing St. Louis facility, and work is on-going to install them in the gallery.  Along with the improved gallery exhibits, the museum has re-installed the F-4 Phantom II cockpit on long-term loan, begun restoration projects for several vintage aircraft, and welcomed back the Pietenpol home-built aircraft restored by EAA Chapter 64, which meets at St. Louis Downtown Airport as well.  The museum welcomes visitors Fri-Sun 10am-4pm and groups also by appointment.