On Saturday, August 17, 1968, the Petaluma community honored Fred J. Wiseman’s first air mail flight in the U.S. with the dedication of a monument at Kenilworth Park. That event was close to the spot where he took off from in his “home made” air craft on February 17, 1911, almost 100 years ago. (That monument has since been moved to a new location, near the Petaluma airport.)

Over the years, there have been other events, usually promoted by the late Argus-Courier columnist – Bill Soberanes – through his columns of 49 years; as well as Gaye LeBaron of  The Press Democrat. The main purpose of today’s blog is to announce the fact that several other Sonoma County communities and historical societies are planning and organizing  centennial celebration events, such as: restoring the time capsule in the Petaluma monument on February 17,, the Sonoma County Historical Societies’ “Fred Wiseman Historical Walk” on February 18, plus a morning Petaluma Airport ceremony and an afternoon Santa Rosa Airport ceremony on Saturday, February 19, 2011.

In order to make it easy for our readers to keep up to date on the progress of these events and to keep current on the 2011 schedule of exhibits planned by the various historical societies, a web site maintained by Sean Bressie of the Sonoma County Historical Society is the “grand central station” of local community sites … http://www.fredwiseman.org  This main site will post announcements and schedules sent in from the local community historical society feeder sites, that are listed on the right side of the county home page.

After a 1909 trip to Dayton, Ohio, and a visit with the Wright brothers, Fred Wiseman returned to Northern California and started to build his first aircraft with the help and support of friends. The finished product was called the Wiseman-Peters biplane, and was tested on the Grant A. Laughlin farm near Fulton in 1910. Likewise, in 2010, local pilots, historians, and educators are coming together and “building” a series of public events to inform, entertain, and educate interested citizens. Get ready to “Start your engine!” Stay tuned for a series of blogs, over the next several weeks, that will help keep you up to date on what will “take off” throughout the county next year in celebration of this most significant centennial anniversary.

P.S. What do you know? Gaye LeBaron and I are on the same page. The above blog was created between 2-3 a.m., earlier today. When I picked up today’s PD later and started to read the Empire Section , I discovered on pages B3 and B11 these headlines: Nearly 100 years since his special delivery and How Fred Wiseman’s historic flight came to be. As Gaye states in her closing sentences, “You’re going to hear and read a lot more about the actual flight in the next three months.” Stay tuned, We’re off and walking… as well as flying.