IFFR is one of the oldest Rotary Fellowships and was formally established through the efforts of a dedicated Rotarian, E. Edison Kennell, of Seattle, Washington, in 1965.
In countries where distances are great and communications are limited IFFR pilots have used their aircraft to help with medical and other emergencies, and several Sections hold meetings at which young people are introduced to the world of aviation.
The activities of IFFR bring together flying and non-flying Rotarians alike in local section meetings all over the world. Many members have flown their private aircraft over the oceans of the earth for Conventions, fly-in events, Rotary service projects, and various other home club and district programs. International understanding has and will continue to benefit through the Fellowship.
At every R.I. World Convention IFFR maintains a Booth in the House of Friendship to bring to the attention of earthbound Rotarians the manifold benefits which aviation brings to Rotary, and which IFFR members have adopted as an Avenue of Service. Flyaround trips are held after each R.I. Convention in which IFFR members tour and area in the country the Convention is held in promoting Rotary and fellowship.
A History by Marcus Crotts (IFFR President 1978-1980)
Forty Years of IFFR Marcus Crotts reminisces…
The International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) was organized in Seattle, WA, USA. on January 1, 1965, through the efforts of E. Edison Kennell — IFFR #1.
The World Fellowship Activities Committee approved the application on February 23, 1965. The World Fellowship Activities Committee was the official body approving World Fellowship Activities including both Recreational & Vocational Fellowships.
Each year, since this Fellowship was organized, a directory of all IFFR members was published along with the Rotary Club affiliation and the Club’s meeting day. The cross country pilot, with the IFFR directory in his cockpit, has virtually 1,500 additional flight service stations at his disposal, and many lasting friendships which have begun through IFFR. I did not join IFFR until 1968. Fly-Ins were held virtually all over the world and IFFR members provided many Rotary services.
In 1970, Victor C. Bracher of Houston, TX conducted a “Bridge the Gap Tour” to Central America which turned out to be a very exciting and beneficial event. The utility of IFFR was shown by flying R.I. President Bill Carter of Berkshire, England, his wife and daughter in private aircraft on an 11 state tour in 1975. Rotary Director, Jim Lambeth from Thomasville, NC, USA, and I organized the trip which was accomplished only by private aircraft. No other form of transportation including commercial airlines, auto, train or bus could have maintained the schedule with frequently three Rotary meetings with the Rotary International President a day.
William ‘Bill’ C Carter
Bill Carter often commented to me that this was the most exciting and memorable event during his term as president. Herb Pigman, a private pilot, assumed the position of general secretary of Rotary International on January 1, 1979 and joined IFFR. At that time, Rotary International President James L. Bomar of Shelbyville, TN, USA, who was also a private pilot, joined IFFR.
Herb Pigman flew a Cessna 172 Sky Hawk and Jim Bomar had a Comanche 260. In 1980, IFFR in cooperation with the Yachting Rotarians and the Caravanning Rotarians held an “Air-Land-Sea” rendezvous in Chicago, IL, USA in conjunction with the Rotary International’s 75th Convention at McCormick Place, Meigs Airport and The Chicago Yacht Club. I. R. President, Jim Bomar, and myself arranged this function.
Even in the early days of our Fellowship, numerous IFFR members travelled virtually all over the world attending Rotary meetings and conducting service projects. At many of the Rotary International Annual Conventions, we would conduct our IFFR General Meeting at the home of an IFFR member or an IFFR officer.
I attended the one in Houston, TX in 1972 when all IFFR members attending the Annual Meeting visited the home of Vic Bracher and had a marvellous time. I also attended the meeting when Ern Dawes had a nice function at his home in Melbourne, Australia. In 1987, seven general aviation aircraft flew from the USA to the Rotary International Convention in Munich, Germany. In route, the convoy stopped at Jersey Island to visit our IFFR chairman, Charles Strasser.
IFFR has had a rich history of service and fellowship and has served Rotary in so many different ways. From the very beginning, service was always a prime consideration of the activities of our Flying Rotarians. When I look at the overall history of IFFR and the activities they conduct at the Rotary International Convention, it appears to me that IFFR and the Yachting Rotarians have the best organized fellowships and the most activity at our booths at the International Convention. Both of these fellowships could use considerably more room to accommodate our members and interested people in the Fellowships Flying and Yachting.
Australasian IFFR History 1970 – 2005
By Brian Condon (IFFR President 1994-1996)
International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians started on January the first 1965. The Australian Section wishes to produce a history of our section to coincide with the Centenary of the establishment of Rotary International. Unfortunately early records were not abundantly available hence we are attempting to gather all the information possible to enable us to publish an interesting overall view of our organisation and that it will be a basis for a continuing history.
Our earliest known member was Ron Stone from Adelaide and his number was #706, which puts him in the late 1960s, followed by Stowe Kentish #822, Frank Sharpe #855, Geoff Stevens #981, Clive Woolcott #1007, and Brian Condon #1119 who joined in 1970. By the end of 1994 our membership had grown to 264, but unfortunately due to changed circumstances in the aviation scene this has dropped below 200.As we grew with age we had to become more organised, hence we appointed committees and instituted a proper organizational structure.
The strength of our Fellowship has been in our name and that is fellowship. This has been the basis of organizing fly-ins, which has been our main object. Fly-ins are the most extensive of our activities, however attendance at World Conventions also plays an important part. The IFFR is always well represented at these Conventions and if it were not for the IFFR most of our members would not be present. What has made these occasions more enjoyable is that where possible flyaways have been added to the program. Many memorable experiences have been enjoyed by many of our members.
Brian Souter, IFFR President 2006-08
We are proud to have been able to establish a very energetic and healthy Section in New Zealand in 1995. This was due to the very fortunate meeting in Taiwan of Brian Condon and Malcolm McClure with Graham Gimblett, whom we discovered was a Rotarian and a Pilot. That is a great country and their citizens are in tune with their environment. Aviation is strong and innovative and their flyins are of a very high standard. New Zealand is a beautiful country and it has been said that if you want to see the world, their country is the best example because there is so much diversity in one small area.
In 1988, to celebrate the bi-centenary of settlement in our country, we conducted a round Australia flight which was a huge success. In all we had 22 aircraft take part in some section or the entire trip. We started in Canberra, flew to Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Perth, Mildura, in all 33 hours of flying. We had tremendous support from press, radio and television.We had 19 Rotary meetings with 49 clubs being represented.
Up to April 2005 we have had 65 flyins to all parts of our continent, which covers some 8 million square kilometers. We have seen the extreme north, south, east and west. We have hosted flyaways at each of the two Rotary International Conventions held in Australia at Melbourne and Brisbane, also one following the Convention in Singapore where we flew the North West of the Continent.
We are fortunate to have had two of our members serve as World President of our wonderful organisation, in Brian Condon 1994-1996 and Ern Dawes 1998-2000, and from New Zealand, Brian Souter is President Elect for 2006-2008.
Our Section has been served with a very dedicated group of Presidents such as for Australia, Sir Frank Sharpe, Brian Condon, Stow Kentish, Brian Bloxom, Sheldon Chadwick, Ern Dawes OBE, Malcolm McClure, Ray Wells, Bruce Watson, Alan Grady, and Laurie Chapman and for New Zealand, Brian Souter, Keith Mitchell, Dave Jenkins, Phil Pacey and Graham Gimblett.
Our current President Laurie Chapman is compiling a book on the history of IFFR in Australasia and already has gathered over two hundred pages of history which will be very interesting reading.
I was honoured by the Australian Section of IFFR, at the Brisbane RI Convention, by presentation of a Paul Harris 2nd ruby award.
(The above was taken from an article written for the IFFR Magazine “Rotary Flyer” published in September 2005)
40 years of IFFR in Europe
…a personal view by John Ritchie.
By coincidence the creation of the International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) took place in 1965, the same year that I began to learn to fly. At the Rotary International Convention in Seattle, USA, Rotarian Ed Kennell founded the Fellowship for a short time known as “Rotary Birds”. A British Rotarian, Ray Stebbings was present and brought the news back to the United Kingdom and in the December 1965 issue of the UK magazine “ROTARY” reported the formation of the new Fellowship and appealed for members. His success can be gauged from the first list of members issued in 1968, which gives the names, and addresses of no fewer than 80 members ranging from Edinburgh to St. Ives and including Jersey and the Isle of Man. Of these, only two, Ray himself and past World IFFR President Charles Strasser remain members on the 40th Anniversary in 2005.
In the June 1974 issue of his District Magazine Ray gave a report of the activities of the UK Section and details of forthcoming events, mentioning that the Fellowship now had a worldwide membership exceeding 1,500 although the UK membership had dropped to 35, which by the time of the Membership List in June 1974 had risen to over 50. They had flown into several Club lunch meetings in the southeast and were planning visits to Le Touquet, Bognor Regis, Fair Oaks and Southend that summer.
No other record can be found of activities during the first few years, but in 1973 a Section was formed in France under the leadership of Jean Recullet, which he held for a period of 20 years. In 1977 the first UK News Bulletin was issued by the secretary, Phil Pickford, and told of the visit to the French International Rally at Annecy attended by UK Chairman Francis Willinger with Ted Darlow who later took over as secretary, President Charles Purley and his wife, Phil Pickford and passenger Denzyl Perry who flew in a Piper Colt with a range of 200 NM and speed of 90 mph, Ted Mayhew with his wife, and Mary & me in my PA28. The event was well supported with pilots from Geneva (in a jet Falcon!) and Sicily as well as the French & British. On our return we stopped to refuel before flying home as in those days you could buy avgas duty free on private flights abroad. Happy Days!
News of the Fellowship had spread across Europe from France, an Italian Section being formed that held its first International Meeting in Voghera in 1975, and issued a commemorative medal to celebrate the event. The following year a Section for Swiss pilots came into being under the leadership of Marc Bonnet from Geneva who, like Jean Recullet, held office for a full 20 years well supported by his wife Ruth. Enjoying a common border and language, the French & Swiss Sections tended to have combined meetings. 1984 saw the first visit of American members who flew the Atlantic in their own aircraft to the RI Convention in Birmingham, and the following year a Norwegian Rotarian, Karl Steen took part in the Jersey Air Rally, a regular fixture attended by so many IFFR members that a special dinner had been arranged for them. Karl was invited, and on his return home brought into being the Scandinavian Section, which combines the members from Denmark, Finland, Norway & Sweden, with the Annual Meeting rotating between the four countries.
American & British members had expressed their intention to fly in to the forthcoming RI Convention in Munich in 1987 which caused the UK Section to realise that there was no German Section to receive them. Ives Branson & Peter Gresham shared the task of contacting the many Rotary Clubs and Aviation magazines in Germany, which led to Theo Wuppermann of the Leverkusen Club hosting a meeting that gave birth to the Section, which is now combined with members in Austria to form the continent, but that year Charles Strasser from Jersey was elected World President and did so much to promote the Fellowship that members subscribed to present him at the IFFR dinner with a Paul Harris Award in recognition of his efforts. Thereafter the Presidency moved between America, Australia and the United Kingdom. It is perhaps, fitting that Angus Clark, a Scotsman, holds the office in the 40th year.
For years we had lamented the absence of a Dutch Section and in 1993 on meeting Stan Jesmiatka from the Netherlands on the Australian Flyaround my wife encouraged him to form the Section, which incorporates Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg under the title of the Benelux Section. They held their inaugural meeting in Middelburg, Holland. That left the majority of Western Europe represented in the Fellowship with the notable omission of the Spanish peninsula. Happily in 1996 Peter Neufert, a member from Germany who spent much time in Portugal combined with local member Luis Henriques to form a Section representing both Portugal & Spain supported by Victor Merelo from Spain who held a fly-in at Tarragona in 1999.
John Richie (centre) receiving the Nordic Trophy in 2007
Throughout the forty years and in spite of the different languages spoken by the many European members an invitation was always open to any IFFR member wishing to attend any event and as early as 1978 the leaders of the French, Italian, and UK Sections arranged a tour of the Mediterranean starting in Cannes, France, and stopping overnight at Corsica, Sardinia, Tunis and Sicily before turning north to Venice and then homeward. A dozen aircraft took part and of those that did no fewer than three Frenchmen and two Britons are still members of IFFR nearly 30 years later. By 1983 activities had increased to such an extent that it became necessary for the European Sections to agree regular meeting dates each year to avoid clashes. Following the 1987 Convention it was thought expedient that a member be appointed to act as Liaison Officer between the European Sections and the other English speaking Sections and this post was held successively by Ives Branson, Graeme Le Quesne, and John Ritchie all of whom had sufficient knowledge of French for the purpose.
To celebrate the new Millennium a tour across Europe from England was arranged, taking in Luxembourg and France before going on to the German meeting in Salzburg, Austria and being joined by members of other Section en route. In addition, when the RI Convention was held in Europe in 1995 (Nice, France) and 2002 (Barcelona, Spain) a post- convention tour was organized and supported by members of every nationality as pilots or passengers. Wives and friends were always welcome and added to the success of these events. The membership strength of the Sections has varied over the years but in spite of a decline in membership of Rotary the appeal of the Fellowship and its activities to those that take part in general aviation has ensured that overall numbers have grown with the years.
(The above was taken from an article written for the IFFR Magazine “Rotary Flyer” published in September 2005)
Photo taken in 2005 at the Chicago Convention showing the then current and past presidents. From L to R: Angus Clark, Charles Strasser, Tony Watson, Fredrico Compean, Marcus Crotts, Ned Poyser, Earn Daws and Sam Bishop. The only surviving Past President at the time this photo was taken that is missing is Brian Condon, whose article apears above.