It was in Reno in 1964…
It was in Reno in 1964 that the concept of a club for warbird owners, whose members could discuss mutual problems in keeping their airplanes airborne, was conceived. Walt Ohlrich, Jr., a U.S. Navy Commander who raced an F8F Bearcat, and others on the west coast formed the Warbirds of America, Inc., which was incorporated on March 25, 1966. The original intent was for owners and operators of World War II combat aircraft only.
Membership in the first year grew dramatically, thanks to the efforts of Walt and regional presidents Jerry Walbrun, Pete Brucia and Frank Sanders. Walt Ohlrich became the first president; Pete Brucia took over in 1967 when Commander Ohlrich was assigned a combat tour in Vietnam. It was at that time that the Warbirds of America became a division of EAA. It was also in 1967 that the Warbirds of America began to include the T-6/SNJ/Harvard, so the membership ranks grew even more.
As the years progressed, so did the organization. Membership increased, with enthusiasts being accepted, and additional ex-military aircraft types entered the picture as they were surplused by the armed forces and as warbirds were recovered from all over the world and made flyable again. Even the liaison aircraft were welcome and within the past decade, a major influx of jet aircraft has swelled the ranks.