Saturday August 6th, 2011
Fredericktown Regional Airport; Now officially the "A. Paul Vance Fredericktown Regional Airport, I.D. H88" picturesquely nestled among the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, about 100 miles south of St. Louis.
A living aviation legend was honored today when his hometown airport with its sparkling new airport terminal building was dedicated in his name. Nonagenarian Mr. Paul Vance, who is a former Navy pilot, flight instructor, City of St. Louis aeronautics development director, Monsanto corporate pilot and chemist was presented with several proclamation certificates from both the State of Missouri and the City of Fredericktown.
Mr. Vance has logged more than 23,000 hours of flight-time during a flying career that spans seventy plus years both as a military and general aviation-commercial pilot. He is an aviator who has flown with many legendary people including Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle and Barry Goldwater, all whom which have over the years called Mr. Vance their longtime friend and peer. His memories and artifacts collected over this long and prestigious career are now proudly displayed at the old Fredericktown Railroad Depot which has been the home of the Vance Aviation and Transportation Museum for more than a decade.
Business and commercial people alike, both in the St. Louis region and all across the world, all have fond memories of Mr. Vance when he was the Chief Sales Engineer for Monsanto Corporation's Aviation Fluids Division that which was set-up to market the non-flammable hydraulic fluid 'Skydrol.' Mr. Vance developed a certain but unusual method of proving to his potential buyers that Skydrol was safe to pilots and technicians that might come into contact with this revolutionary aviation fluid: he would drink some during a sales call! Looking at how fit and debonair Mr. Vance looks today, he might be onto something that the chemical engineers at Monsanto never realized....Skydrol is an elixir for longevity and health. This is amazing, since in my experience, if you get this purple fluid on your skin it burns, and if you drip it onto a painted surface of an aircraft, it appears to have the properties similar to a paint stripper. When I asked Mr. Vance today if it burnt going down, he fixed me with a mischievousness glint in his eye and just grinned.
More than one hundred people flew and drove to Fredericktown to witness the dedication ceremony and to also honor this aviation legend, Mr. Vance. I spoke to pilots that flew as far away as Huntsville, Alabama to attend, as well as directors and members of the Missouri Pilot's Association, the Gateway Eagles, Arch Medical Helicopter Service, the Monsanto Corporate Aviation Department as well as many others. One special treat that brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd was the four-pass flyover of the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Forces' 1945 - B25J Mitchell Bomber. The local Boy Scout Troop were serving refreshments in one of the Airport Hangars as well. All in all, the morning's festivities were a roaring success as one of St. Louis' own was properly recognized for his contribution to the proud and rich aeronautical history of the St. Louis Gateway City of Flight, and this region as a whole.
Well done Mr. Vance!