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SFTE EC - The Beginning
by Wim Dijkshoorn and Erwin Reil
Until 1986 European SFTE members who wanted to make their membership effective by visiting the annual SFTE symposium, sometimes found it a little hard to convince their company or institution that the cost of travelling to the USA for taking part in the activities of their professional organization was rightly spent. Even so the attendance to the symposium of 5 to 10 out of 25 European SFTE members was not bad in the early eighties. For the Society Board this was sufficient reason to consider the possibility of a future annual symposium to be held in Europe.

At the 1983 Symposium, hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter, Ron Hart, who was then the Society President, approached me about the subject and said that the Board was trying to find persons who would take initiatives in that direction. I answered cautiously that there might well be interest, but this should first be verified. Well, it became clear that action was expected from my side, and since I was about to retire from my job at Fokker Aircraft, I agreed to see what could be done. Other European members, such as Gösta Niss and Erwin Reil, whom I had got to know at SFTE symposium, did also see chances for European activities and promised to support the enterprise.

Fall 1983 and spring 1984 saw efforts to gain further support from European members and sponsoring from industry and institutions. The result was promising; the Netherlands Association of Aeronautical Engineers was prepared to offer patronage for an SFTE Symposium in Amsterdam in 1987. Details on the plan and the adhesion received were reported the Society Headquarter. The SFTE Board gave the green light by June 1984.

The first priority was to inform the members in Europe about the Amsterdam Symposium and start the preparations. A Symposium Committee was set up, headed by Professor Hans Wittenberg of the Technical University Delft, members from the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), industry (Fokker and KLM), airworthiness Authorities (RLD), SFTE Board Director Jeff Posner (USAF, then stationed in Europe) and myself as Publicity Chairman. Fred Sterk of NLR took up the secretariat. Secondary in urgency, but very important also, was the aim to start a European SFTE Chapter.

The number of SFTE members "at large" in the European and Mediterranean area had increased in the meantime from about 25 to 45 and it was clear that they wanted a more complete membership by establishing a European Chapter, mostly similar to the Chapter in the USA, but adapted to the European situation.

At first the subject of starting a European Chapter was mainly covered by correspondence and some personal and telephone contacts. In May 1985 a rough outline of how the Chapter would operate was circulated. The first idea was to have the chapter headed on a rotational basis by members in the different areas: north, west, centre and south. A committee, chosen out of the members in the particular area would bear organizational responsibility for the chapter as a whole and would also host a chapter event in the form of a one or two days conference. Corporate members would be asked to provide conference facilities.

The Washington D.C. Annual SFTE Symposium in 1986 was the place where the structure for the European Chapter was further discussed and agreed upon by 11 members, representing five European countries and where decisions for further actions were taken. Present were : Mr. R. G. Brookes (Westland Helicopters), W. Dijkshoorn (Fokker), G. Ferretti (Aeritalia), T.D.L. Gregory and R.J.Osborne (A&AEE Boscombe Down), E.Reil (MBB), S.Rodling (SAAB), F.J. Sterk (NLR), E. Trombetta (Aermacchi), C.H. Vallance (G.E.C.).

Again in January 1987 a meeting of European members was held in Amsterdam on Schiphol Airport. Present were Dick Boers (RLD), Bob Brookes (Westland Helicopters), Wim Dijkshoorn (retired), Ken Edwards (GEC Avionics), Martin Friedlander (C.E.V. France), John Gregory (A&AEE ), Jeff Posner (USAF), Erwin Reil (MBB), Sture Rodling (SAAB) and Eligio Trombetta (Aermacchi). At the end of meeting the European Chapter "was born". A committee was formed with the task to apply for a Chapter Charter from the main SFTE Board and to find candidates for the first elected Chapter Officers Committee. Wim Dijkshoorn, Jan Van Doorm (NLR), Harry Horlings (R. Neth Airforce) and Jeff Posner executed these preliminary actions. The European Chapter Bylaws were conceived and submitted for approval to the Board of Directors. On 7 July 1987 the B.O.D.approved these bylaws. In the meantime a voting procedure had been started, resulting at the members meeting of 28 September 1987 in the installation of the first Chapter Officers Committee.