The Boeing B-17F "Flying Fortress" AFA-317th Chapter Aircraft

"It has served, unlike any other bomber, through all of the Second World War. It had become a legend in its time. A tribute to the men who had conceived, designed, and built it-and a monument to the remarkable young men, most of them boys who flew it. These men, and this plane, accomplished one of the most frightening missions ever demanded of men and aircraft. Together they helped end history's last "Glorious War".


AFA-317 Blogspot created and maintained by Benny F. Benitez, FAA -Airframe / Powerplant and FCC-Ham Radio Lic.) VFW Life Member, Former Chapter President (2009-2010). Current Chapter Vice President of Special Projects

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Air Force Association Miami-Homestead Chapter, The 317th Is Now The Only AFA Chapter Present At The Most Historical Sea Plane Base Within The U.S.

The AFA-317th appears to be the ONLY Chapter within the entire AFA organization that has a relationship and presence with a sea plane base and a connection to a little known history of the USAF dealing with amphibian sea planes

The AFA-317 banner proudly displayed for all to see when visiting Watson Island

The rafters shown in this photograph are the original ones which installed when the terminal building was constructed back in the early 1930's to support operation for Chalk's Airlines

Captain Roberto Gomez proudly hoisting the AFA-317th banner within the terminal building 

The AFA-317 relationship with the Watson Island Sea Plane Base provides the Chapter an alternate meeting place by the waters edge with a tremendous view of the Miami skyline

Miami, Florida / Watson Island 18th June 2010: Always thinking outside of the box, the leadership of the AFA-317 are always seeking to establish new venues and relationships with local business to help promote the AFA and the USAF.
That mission has been achieved with the AFA-317 new relationship with the Waston Island Sea Plane Base in Miami, Florida. Officially known on the aeronautical charts as X-44, dating back to the 1930's this site is the oldest operational sea plane base within the U.S. The former home of Chalk's airlines who operated at the site in providing commercial flights to and from the Bahamas, Watson Island is a little unknown aviation treasure of American aviation history.
The AFA-317th appears to be the ONLY Chapter within the entire AFA organization that now has an established relationship and presence at and active and historic Sea Plane Base.
It should be noted that the USAF at one time successfully operated amphibian aircraft's such as the Grumman Albatross in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role in picking up down aircrews, which was instrumental during the Vietnam War within the South China Sea and the Mekong Delta water ways.
The Grumman Goose, N119AA based at Watson Island is but one of the many variants that the Grumman Aircraft Company created and kept increasing the design that ended with the Albatross version, which was successfully used by the USAF and USCG.

Air Force Association Miami-Homestead Chapter, The 317th President Benny F. Benitez Establishes A Summer Paid Internship for Miami Aviation Students

Shown in sunglasses is Captain Roberto Gomez, the Manager of the Watson Island Sea Plane Base conversing with Dr. Sean Gallagan, Principle of the George T. Baker Aviation School

Chapter President Benny Benitez with Captain Gomez and the three George T. Baker Aviation School students who were the candidates for the intern program at Watson Island

The three selected students shown with the Grumman Goose, N119AA which their technical ability will help keep the aircraft in an airworthiness condition

The group shown inside the historical building that once was the terminal for Chalk's Airlines

AFA-317th Chapter President sitting in the right-hand cockpit seat prior to an engine run up

Miami, Floirda / Watson Island 18th June 2010: As a member of the local aviation community of South Florida and strong supporter of education for the youth of Miami-Dade, AFA-317th Chapter President, Benny Benitez along with industry colleague, Captain Roberto Gomez and in working closely with the George T. Baker Aviation School of Miami-Dade, established the first ever paid, Summer internship for three aviation technical students at the Watson Island Sea Plane Base in supporting a Grumman Goose amphibian aircraft..
The AFA-317 leadership structure consisting of Col. Stan Boder USAF (Ret.) former Chapter President and Lt. Col. Rodrigo "Rod" Huete USAF (Ret.) Vice President along with Benny Benitez are always in search for creating and establishing opportunities within the community for aviation student to obtain experience and industry exposure. 
Working closely with the leadership at the George T. Baker Aviation School, Principle Dr. Sean Gallagan the connection beneficial toward three selected students was achieved.
Watson Island Sea Plane Base, dating back to 1927 and the George T. Baker Aviation School, dating back to the 1950's are one of the two oldest aviation sites in Miami, Florida. The vision of the 317th resulted in these two organization coming together for the benefit of local aviation students.
The selected students are currently enrolled within the FAA Airframe & Powerplant program and have basic aircraft maintenance experience that will be apply in supporting the Grumman Goose for continued operation.