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by Roger Smith

I had never met Number One, though he is in my tribe and I was Tribe Chief twice, the second time for four years.  I had sent him newsletters, but had never a reply.  None of the others in the tribe knew him either.  Somebody once told me he lived in a nursing home and had a chronic illness.  

Number one was a mysterious enigma.  He never attended a convention.  He never made a fly-in.

At least, not before May 10, 2003.

So, we all about fell off our chairs when he sat down to dinner with us at our northwest tribe fly-in. It was in Walla Walla, Washington, and we were there for the balloon stampede on Mother's Day weekend.

Paul Rechnitzer, ICS Number One, and his wife, Patti, drove in.  

Patti and Paul Rechnitzer, ICS Number One, surprised us all at our Walla Walla fly-in

Patti is from Dallas. They didn't fly in, but they still have a '64 Comanche, N8372P.  They live now in Sagle, Idaho, which is up near Sandpoint.

The only other person I know in Sagle is an old navy pilot who hopes his ex-wife doesn't find him. I found him by having a friend check his address at the assessor's office in Sandpoint.  He was a deeply suspicious guy when I wrote to him about the old squadron having a reunion.  He flew with my old squadron.

Unlike my old navy friend, Paul Rechnitzer has a real street address and a real phone number.  He is retired from the natural gas distributing business and has lived all over the west; Colorado, and Dallas, Texas, mostly.  Paul is a very independent-minded citizen, and is forthright and outspoken on a variety of subjects.  He knows guns and banking and airplanes.

It was the year after the Lock Haven flood, Paul told us, and he was living in Littleton, Colorado, when he realized there would be a need for a Comanche Society.  He wrote a letter in 1972 which was published in AIR FACTS magazine asking if anyone else saw the need, too. 

Andy Speer responded by telephone promptly.  Andy lived in Wichita.  Paul went down there and the two of them founded the ICS, right there, over lunch. 

We lionized Paul at dinner and over the weekend, and we all called him "Number One."  Frank Sargeant, who is Number 61 and had the seniority in our meetings all these years, sat next to Paul and exemplified the deference we all paid to him. We expect Paul to come often, now that he knows the way.


Roger G. Smith, MD, is a former naval aviator practicing medicine in Hillsboro, Oregon.  He bought his 260 Comanche B in 1976 and been associated with the Northwest Tribe ever since, serving 5 terms as tribe chief.  He has been a leader in the movement to make the ICS more responsive to the needs of its members.


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