Occasionally, we like to highlight some of the unique families that have joined the Commemorative Air Force, as a group, in order to share there time together working on something they all enjoy. This week at the CAF SoCal Wing, we met a great example of this with the Bauman family.
The Bauman’s interest in aviation started in the small town of McMinville, OR. in 2008. Greg Bauman and his daughter Jennifer were on a road trip to Washington State, and decided to stop at the Evergreen Aircraft Museum to stretch their legs and break up the 18-hour car trip. While at the museum the B-17 and the veterans with their stories captured Jennifer’s interest. When they got home from the trip, Jennifer continued to talk about the airplanes. Greg had the idea to take her to the CAF SoCal museum in Camarillo. On the tour, the docent, seeing what he assumed to be a teenage girl only at the museum for extra credit, kept asking Jennifer what he needed to sign to prove she had been there for school. She insisted that she was at the museum because she loved airplanes and was very interested in World War II history. The docent then told her about the CAF’s cadet program, identifying a youngster who had a real passion for aviation. Greg signed Jennifer up and she showed up in an old t-shirt and ratty jeans, ready to work on airplanes.
The Spitfire crew immediately adopted her, and had her working her very first day in the hangar. When Greg picked her up, he was shocked and almost disbelieving at the fact that his 13-year-old daughter had been put to work working on actual airplanes. He decided that if she stuck with it for a couple of months, he would join as well. She did, soon the Southern California Wing gained another valuable member, Greg Bauman, who had 25 years of auto-body repair experience. He proved his worth early on, when he successfully completed his first job - straightening the Spitfire nose cone.
Jessica Bauman, Jennifer’s sister, also inherited a love of mechanical things from her father. When she saw how much fun Jennifer and Greg were having, she signed up as well.
Although Greg is very experienced and skilled, the CAF has still been a learning experience for him. When asked about working with all the guys in the maintenance hangar and his reply was: “I thought I knew a lot, but these guys are fantastic.” Indeed Greg does know a lot. CAF SoCal Wing Leader Steve Barber, said about Greg, “I love that guy, he can do anything!”
The Bauman family accompanied the Spitfire crew on their trip to England for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2010. There they experienced everything from an authentic Sunday pub brunch to seeing 16 Spitfires fly at once in the Duxford Airshow.
After two years of hanging around airplanes, it seemed a natural progression that the family would learn to fly. Greg bought a gorgeous 1947 Stinson 108 that he and the girls could fly. Alan Gaynor began their training, teaching them the essentials and making sure that they could take off without careening into the weeds alongside runway 26.
Both girls love vehicles with personality. Before she turned 16, Jessica pestered Greg constantly for a classic car. He agreed to buy her one and make it run and make it stop, but she had to pay for any other modifications to the car. She modified her straight six with three carburetors and other after-market high-performance parts, so it can now run with V8s of the same vintage. Jennifer had always loved European cars, and settled on a Volvo PV544 after her father said “no” to Italian, French and British cars because of their notorious unreliability. Her car did not run and needed a lot of work, but came with a moving van full of parts. Jennifer and Greg used the spare parts to restore the car, and Jennifer sold the rest on eBay for money towards the restoration. If you see a very distinctive red Volvo in the parking lot, that’s her car.
Jennifer just turned 18 and will be heading off to Cal Poly Technical State University at San Luis Obispo. in the Fall to study aerospace engineering.
At the time of press both sisters are not CAF active colonels as Jennifer is away at college therefore and Jessica had to face a major repair expenses on her biplane at this time. Greg who is an active colonel told us that both sisters will become colonel members again in the near future.