A Brief History
The Flying Dentist's Association was officially formed June 5, 1960, in Amarillo, Texas, by a group of twenty-nine dentists, who became the Founder members. A Constitution and Bylaws were drawn up and Officers and Directors elected. W. S. Stevenson, Jr. of Amarillo, was elected the first President and John Austin, of Amarillo, the first Secretary Treasurer.
The purpose of this new organization was both professional and social and was so stated in the constitution adopted by the group. The founders' intentions were to be carried on into the coming years by the nucleus of men and women that have persisted in that vision.
The first annual meeting was held on June 5, 6, and 7, 1961 in San Antonio Texas, with a three day meeting at the School of Aero-Space Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base. There were conducted tours, discussions of research problems and programs in Aerospace medicine, and current research in dentistry. This program, and it's sponsors, were to set the pattern for the future and it has persisted to our current times.
During this growing period, the membership increased rapidly and eighty-four enrollees became Charter Members. Newly elected officers included Norman Salisbury, Anaheim, California, President, Henry Reitz, Camarillo California, Secretary Treasurer, and John Copeland, Wichita, Kansas, President Elect.
As was specified in the Constitution, the organization next met at the American Dental Association meeting in Philadelphia October 14 and 15, 1961. A Board of Directors Meeting established a Six-District concept, District Vice Presidents were elected, and a national order was in place.
As the years passed, the Association continued to grow steadily; annual conventions became larger and the locations were spread throughout the lower forty-eight states. The Directors became aware that membership should be family-oriented and, to succeed, the program must appeal to, not just the dentist-pilot, but to the wives and children as well. Thus the locations for the annual conventions must be chosen in resort-type settings, with access to quality clinical programs, access to aviation facilities and appeal to the entire family unit. These goals have been, and continue to be, achieved by dedicated, and diligent convention planners from within the membership. In recent years the six districts have been reduced to four, to accommodate membership distribution and natural geographic barriers. Now called Eastern, Central, Western and Pacific districts; each has its own flying activities during the year. All members are invited to cross district lines to attend any of these local functions. A monthly Newsletter keeps all members informed of the activities of the districts as well as national meetings.
As we approach our forty first year as an active group, we can look back on good times and lean years. During the general aviation recession of the mid-eighties, our membership dropped precipitously. We were forced, by declining income, to revise and restrict our association staff. Our Missions activities were reduced from record highs, because of unrest and revolutions in Central American areas we had serviced for years. These activities are now, again, on the rise. Our membership is recovering as new dentists, and their families, discover the challenge and the joy of the airplane, and the professional pleasure afforded the clinical traveler.
As the Annual Convention for 2001 takes shape, we anticipate a continuing resurgence in activities, both dental and aeronautical. The revolution in dentistry has produced changes in the science and practice of dentistry the dislocation in the aviation, world shows signs of abating and we can, again, hope to pursue our twin passions with the vigor we have enjoyed and the freedom we treasure
Lowell W. Dexter, History Chairman 2000 www.FlyingDentists.Org