NWOC History

NWOC 2009
In 1992, EAA Warbirds of America president Bill Harrison and Lone Star Flight Museum administrator Ralph Royce conceived the idea of a gathering of warbird organizations, flying museums, and owners while on the ramp at the National Championship Air Races at Reno. The purpose? Essentially, it was to discuss common goals and address the changing environments in which we operate warbird aircraft.
The need for the gathering became more apparent when the FAA imposed a moratorium on the importation and licensing of surplus military turbine-powered aircraft. As it turned out, other issues were also tugging on our sleeves which needed addressing. Bill Harrison spoke well when he remarked, “We don’t necessarily need to come away from this meeting with all the answers, but we do need to find out what the questions are and develop a plan to answer them.”
NWOC 2010
Perhaps the best-known answer to come from the initial conference was that of standardized formation flying rules. Before the FAA could impose rulemaking on the subject, then-FAA National Air show Coordinator John Thiem gave the warbird community the opportunity to establish the criteria, subject to final FAA approval. It worked. Today we have the Formation and Safety Training (FAST) program to show for that first year’s effort.

That first gathering in Galveston also disproved a myth that the myriad warbird organizations, museums and individual owners could not work together for the common good. It may have taken some years for this to occur, but it succeeded and continues to do so to this day. Not wanting to be tied to any one location, the conference organizers wisely chose to seek hosts to annually host the conference. Museums and organizations generously gave of their time and staff to put together this now-yearly event.

NWOC 2012

After twenty NWOCs, one might get the impression that the entire range of topics for discussion has been exhausted. And yet, each year, that theory is disproved. To be sure, some topics are revisited frequently, but for good reason. Training and education sometimes require repetition in order to ensure comprehension. And each year we are presented with new information, which we share with others upon our return to home.
To attract more participants to the conference, organizers also debated the idea of an exhibitor’s area, in which membership organizations, restorers, and other warbird-related business could advertise and “show their wares.” This idea came to fruition in 2003 in Mesa, where the first “Warbird Wing” was assembled—with very positive results and feedback. The “Warbird Wing” continues today.
NWOC 2013
Of course we have also worked in some “play” time during these conferences, mostly with aviation museum tours. Those who’ve been to all, or nearly all, of the events have witnessed some of the best collections of aircraft and memorabilia this country has to offer. Lone Star Flight Museum, American Airpower Heritage Museum, Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Champlin Fighter Museum, NASM’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility, Vintage Flying Museum, National Museum of USAF, Planes of Fame … been there, done all those.
Ultimately, it is the exchange of information that attracts most, if not all, of the participants. From medical information, to insurance concerns, to the future of the fuel supply, to engine and airframe maintenance issues, to pilot attitude and training, to government programs, and a whole host of subjects in between, knowledge is king at NWOC.
NWOC 2014
To remind the participants of one of the purposes of the gathering, Jim Fausz made a remark at the first conference, which has been repeated numerous times to great effect. “Leave your organizational allegiances at the door and your politics on final at 500 feet.” That one statement has served the NWOC well over nearly a decade of camaraderie.
See you at the next annual National Warbird Operator Conference
  • 1993
    Galveston, TX
    Lone Star Flight Museum
  • 1994
    Fort Worth, TX
    Vintage Flying Museum
  • 1995
    Midland, TX
    American Airpower Heritage Museum
  • 1996
    Nashville, TN
    EAA Warbird Squadron 1
  • 1997
    Dallas, TX
    Cavanaugh Flight Museum
  • 1998
    Nashville, TN
    EAA Warbird Squadron 1
  • 2000
    Las Vegas, NV
    Harrah’s Las Vegas
  • 2001
    Washington, DC
  • 2003
    Mesa, AZ
    Champlin Fighter Museum
  • 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    FAA Facilities
  • 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Museum of Flight
  • 2006
    Orlando, FL
    Fantasy of Flight Museum
  • 2007
    Dayton, OH
    National Museum of USAF
  • 2008
    Palm Springs, CA
    Palm Springs Air Museum
  • 2009
    Washington, DC
    National Air & Space Museum
  • 2010
    San Diego, CA
    San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • 2011
    Pensacola, FL
    National Naval Aviation Museum
  • 2012
    Chino, CA
    Planes of Fame
  • 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Historic Flight Foundation
  • 2014
    Dallas, TX
    Cavanaugh Flight Museum
  • 2015
    New Orleans, LA
    National WW II Museum
  • 2017
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Military Aviation Museum