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Sun, Oct. 20

Veterans honored at VVF memorial ceremony

A Verde Valley Flyers memorial ceremony was held Saturday morning for Dayton Christensen and Jonathon Fineman at the Cottonwood Airport. Both men were veterans of the U.S. Airforce. (Photo courtesy of James H. Keyworth)

A Verde Valley Flyers memorial ceremony was held Saturday morning for Dayton Christensen and Jonathon Fineman at the Cottonwood Airport. Both men were veterans of the U.S. Airforce. (Photo courtesy of James H. Keyworth)

COTTONWOOD – A Verde Valley Flyers memorial ceremony was held Saturday morning for Dayton Christensen and Jonathon Fineman at the Cottonwood Airport.

Both men were veterans of the U.S. Airforce.

Dayton (Charles) Christensen “Charlie”

Born in Northfield, Minnesota to Hans and Irene Christensen, Dayton graduated from St. Olaf College in 1963. He switched from Pre-Med to the R.O.T.C. and started flying a Cessna 140. “Charlie” earned Wing Commander status in his senior year.

Joining the United States Air Force he served five years on active duty, then fifteen years in the Air Force Reserves. He retired as Colonel in 1992.

Dayton underwent U.S.A.F. Pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, flying Cessna T-37 Tweety Birds and Northrop T-38 Talons.

While on active duty the aircraft he flew included the Douglas C-47 “Gooney Bird”, Boeing B-52H “BUFF”, Convair T-29, and Mooney Mk 21. Dayton’s least favorite chore in the Air Force was jockeying the huge B-52 eight-jet bomber for in-flight refueling.

After active service with USAF, “Charlie” joined Northwest Airlines, and during his thirty-two years with the company he piloted all marks of the Boeing 727 and 707 aircraft, the wide-body 747, and his favorite, the Douglas DC-10. He also served the airline as a classroom and flight simulator instructor. He was based at first at Minneapolis, then later in Honolulu, flying folks between the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Japan and Taiwan.

Charlie recalled his most memorable aviation event for James Keyworth’s publication Verde Valley Flyers:

“Cruising a DC-10 full of passengers mid way over the Pacific Ocean,

we flew into a volcanic ash cloud which flamed out two of the three

engines. The aircraft lost twelve thousand feet of altitude, falling out

of the ash cloud before the dead engines could be restarted.

Thank you, Pratt & Whitney!!”

He retired from Northwest in 2001. “Charlie” ultimately moved to Clarkdale, Arizona, flying much smaller Cessna aircraft out of Sedona and Cottonwood. He joined the Verde Valley Flyers at Cottonwood airport, becoming a Saturday morning gathering icon, and most recently serving the association as President until his passing.

He will be missed.

Excerpted from “Verde Valley Flyers” © 2016 James H. Keyworth

Jonathon Fineman

Born to literary parents in Orlando, Florida in 1940, Jonathan grew up in Beverly Hills, California and Shaftsbury, Vermont. He attended Putney School, tried college, then joined the U.S. Army. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division and later with the U.S. Navy, cruising oceans from the north Atlantic to south Pacific—and Viet Nam. He completed an Engineering degree at the University of Vermont and worked with IBM as a process engineer.

Jonathan met his future family at Sugarbush Airport (Vermont) and they went on to build Northern Lights Airfield in the Lake Champlain island area. He step-fathered four children of six—the two eldest had left to seek their fortunes. He took pleasure in giving two of them flying lessons, one of whom now flies for American Airlines.

After twenty-eight years with IBM Jonathan retired. To keep busy he went to work as a mechanic for a commuter airline, then later flew feeder Cessna Caravans for UPS and Federal Express.

With his CFI, A&P and IA licenses Jon flew and maintained many aircraft—his wife’s De Havilland Tiger Moth, two Cessna 170s, a Fly Baby, a Great Lakes biplane, two Aeronca Champs and a Navion Rangemaster.

The Finemans sold the family airfield in 1996. The family flew the Cessna 170 westward, and with a third Champ, and eventually a Cessna 180, finished their flying careers in the Arizona sun.

Jonathan and his wife Bette have been active members of the Verde Valley Flyers for a number of years.

We will miss his cheerful charm.

Excerpted from “Verde Valley Flyers” © 2016 James H. Keyworth

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