Santa Monica Flying Museum
by Rich Adams, FOC Board Chairman and Chris Banning, Co-chair
“We joined the Club because of the cars. We remain a member because of the people.”
The event went off without a hitch and was enjoyed by 15 Ferrari drivers and their passengers. Member Ira Bettelman drove his 1967 Silver 330 GTS and Board member Michael Lownestam drove his 1972 “blood red” 246 Dino on the cruise. Board Secretary Robert De Pietro and his wife Wende drove their “fly yellow” 365 GTS Daytona and long time member Earl Waggoner drove his “Ferrari red” 1978 308 GTB. Alex and Shannon Penrith drove their “fly yellow” 328 GTS and I drove my “fly yellow” 1990 Testarossa. Board member John Adkins drove his “burgundy” 456 and past FOC Board member and event co-chair Chris and Jane Banning led the cruise in their silver ‘Euro” 360 Modena. There were two California Spiders, a black one driven by Taher and Talha Dadabhoy and a pewter one driven by Dan and Dona Casson; as well as two 458 Italias, a black one driven by Dick and Elliott Drake and a white one driven by Brian Rothi and his guest Clavice Moyns. And then there were two, John and Sally Siemak in their “I’m going to be a Ferrari someday” “French Blue” BMW M3 convertible.
Many thanks go to friend and Co-Chairman Chris Banning for having put together a great cruise. He drew an artistic map with the locations of movie star's homes on our route. He also gave to each driver a nice event flashlight keychain with the words FERRARI OWNERS CLUB "We Drive" written on the flashlight body. Jane, his lovely wife, helped me by giving out wristbands to the participants as the participants signed the drive's release of liability agreement.
We started off the almost two hour cruise at Rancho Park in Cheviot Hills and traveled into Beverly Hills past the Beverly Hills Hotel. We then drove up winding Benedict Canyon Drive, past homes of the sometimes rich and famous, to Mulholland Drive. We took a short breath of fresh air on Mulholland, while taking a group picture, before heading West across Mulholland to Roscomare Road. We drove down Roscomare through Bel Air, passing more homes of the sometimes rich and famous, to the always famous Sunset Blvd. From there we headed West on Sunset through Brentwood and Pacific Palisades to the beach and Highway 1. We drove South on Highway 1 through Santa Monica and onto the 10 Freeway, which dropped us off down the road 5 miles near our destination the Santa Monica Flying Museum. We parked our cars in front of the Museum behind protective stanchions and spent an hour exhibiting our cars and talking with Museum guests before going to lunch.
We took a short walk up the block to the Aircraft themed Spitfire Grill. Lunch at the Spitfire Grill was very pleasant. We sat outside under warm sunny skies and umbrellas, enjoying the other members and their guests. We had a very large selection of excellent meals to select from including breakfasts, entree salads, burgers, and sandwiches [all with really great names like The Frequent Flyer, Howard Hughes, P-38, The Flying Tiger, The Spruce Goose, The S.T.O.L (Short TakeOff & Landing), The Spirit (of St. Louis), The Cessna, and The Bi-Plane just to name a few].
The Museum was very appreciative of our presences. It was founded by Donald Douglas of Douglas Aircraft fame. We were thanked numerous times by their personnel for our being there. Dan Ryan, Director, Steve Benesche, Operations Manager, and docents Linda Kornner, Jim Babinski and Leo Iniguez were very cordial and enthusiastic. I gave Leo, Jim and Linda each the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat of my Testarossa. In fact Linda was the person I first met at the Museum a year ago and was the catalyst for our putting the event together. The Museum team just couldn't get over how beautiful our cars are. To my pleasant surprise I feel the museum has significantly improved their presence because they have increased the number and quality of their displays since I was last there.
After lunch Operations Manager Steve Benesche gave our members a very personalized and informative tour covering aircraft from the 1903 Wright brother’s Wright Flyer (a 7/8 replica from the movie Night At The Museum), to the 1927 Waco GXE Model 10 three-seat open cockpit biplane, to the 1981 McDonnell Douglas MD 11 Winglet responsible for lowering fuel consumption by 3 percent and saving 250,000 gallons of fuel per year for a typical MD-11. The tour also led us thru some interesting exhibits like the Aerocar, a car with fold out wings, that actually flies. Many beautiful plane models hang from the ceiling and interesting old aerial photos grace the walls showing the history and evolution of the area. Two very impressive murals, that were painted in place, display the majesty of the Douglas Aircraft. One mural shows a collection of all the Douglas commercial aircraft produced, and the other shows the only time all Douglas military aircraft were present at one time on one Aircraft Carrier, the USS Intrepid. Around the corner, was a plane simulator that was available for anyone wishing to give it a try.
Upstairs we were shown a re-creation of the Donald Douglas Aircraft Corp. boardroom, with the original large circular desk designed with a unique Earth Dome in the center. It is absolutely beautiful. Nearby is the nose and cockpit of a DC-10 in which you can sit and examine all of it’s many switches and gauges. Coincidently a Fed Ex airline pilot had joined us on our tour and she actually flew this very plane many years ago. She was extremely informative and had a couple of very interesting stories to tell.
This was a great tour. Everyone seemed very enthusiastic to find out what the next cool thing on the tour was going to be for us to see. This museum, combined with an array of beautiful Ferraris with examples from the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and two thousands, was a visual treat that we all thoroughly enjoyed.
FOC Board Member, Jim Hunter came and spent the day taking pictures of our cars. Some of his artwork is displayed on these pages. Both Chris Banning and I also took pictures, so we really had a nice selection of pictures to choose from for the magazine article.