The Bong Eagles are a free flight model airplane club based in south-eastern Wisconsin. The name comes from their favorite flying field, Bong Recreational Area near Burlington, Wisconsin, where they hold outdoor free flight contests. Bong Recreational Area in turn is named after 40 plane Ace of the Pacific Theater in WWII MAJ Richard Ira Bong. Besides areas that the Bong Eagles reserve for contests, this never completed B-47 base also is home to an R/C field. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/richardbong
During the winter months (without a pandemic) indoor contests and fun flying take place in Racine Memorial Hall in Racine, Wisconsin. The club flies AMA, FAC and FAI (international) events. See the Indoor and Events pages for updates.
There does not appear to be written history of the Bong Eagles club.
Jack Boone offered the following:
I joined the club in 1989 after moving back to Wisconsin. In the mid-90’s, I was club president for three years. It was during this time that we enrolled in the Flying Aces and got our squadron numbers.
In the beginning, there was only one indoor contest, in November. Joe Adams, the former newsletter editor and club treasurer, was the CD for it. I started the second indoor contest in March of 1997 in Racine Memorial Hall. The contests have been there ever since, along with the monthly flying sessions. The events are the same in fall and spring mostly from sheer laziness. After Joe passed, the fall contest was named for him.
During the Outdoor season we had three contests. The first is the Old Timers contest – Otto Curth, a long time Chicago Aeronuts member, ran it for years. Tony Telford ran it after Otto fell ill. For a while it was called the Otto Curth memorial Old Timer contest. I’m not sure when that stopped. The CD now is Jeff Annis.
The second contest is in August and runs newer events. Jeff Annis is also the CD.
The third ‘contest’ had been a fun fly run by Jack Schnobrich. There are only three events, all are mass launch events.
Tony Italiano was a very important early member of the club. Once the Bong Eagles were invited to come to Bong to fly their planes for the governor. Tony was the front man, Jack Boone brought some R/C models to fly. Gov. Thompson seemed delighted. Afterwards he asked how they like Bong. They admitted they did but it could always be improved. How, he asked. Runways, Tony answered.
The next year Bong had a budget line item to add runways to the flying field.
Update: Tony Italiano’s biography is in the AMA Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 90. https://www.modelaircraft.org/sites/default/files/files/ItalianoAnthonyAJTony.pdf
Jack Boone passed away in 2015, aged 83. His obituary in the Racine Journal/Times mentioned his membership in the Bong Eagles. Joe B. remembers his kindness to beginners as CD for Indoor Contests at Racine. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/journaltimes/name/jack-boone-obituary?pid=174178728
The wife of Richard Bong’s nephew worked for me for a few years. She is now an MD as is her husband. When she came to work for me, I asked her if she knew the name Richard Bong and that is when she told me she was married to his nephew.
I was a member of the Bong Eagles between 1976 or 1977 until 1987, when I moved to Louisiana. I learned a great deal about chasing a model at Bong. Hand launch gliders were hard to find in tall grass so ones technique had to be perfect. Still many of my models have decomposed on that field.
When I was a club member Pete Baker, Bob Whaley, Tony Italiano (then NFFS President), Gill Graunke, Jim Noonan, Gordon Wisniewski, Dick Swenson, Bob Black, Joe Adams, Jack Tisinai, John and Jamie Lorbiecki were my cohort. I joined before I could drive and would get a ride to meetings with Bob Whaley. Once or twice I rode to indoor contests in Chicago with Jim Noonan in his beloved Peugot. My first day with a drivers license I took my mom’s car to a BE meeting in Wauwatosa.
In those days I flew peanut scale and HLG primarily, but also P-30, coupe, penny plane and a few other things. Today I’m flying F1B, F1G, P-30, E-20 and now E-36. I continue to be in close contact with John Lorbiecki and Pete Baker, and visit Wisconsin once in a while. I attended a BE meeting at an airport near Pewaukee(?) a few years ago and visited with Dick Swenson and Jeff Annis.
Ross Jahnke AMA 32372
Flew at Bong quite a bit in the early 60’s with a group of members from the Dayton Wing Masters. Not sure whether the Bong Eagles existed as a club then or not. I participated in a couple of contests there that were organized by a northern Illinois club, don’t remember the name.
LeRoy Bidgood AMA 16873