Edward Vesely is the Senior Director of Sales with Welsch Aviation, heading up their Houston
location. Beginning as a sales demonstration pilot for Mitsubishi Aircraft, he has been involved
in the sale and acquisition of executive aircraft for nearly 40 years.
Mr. Vesely has been a pilot for over 40 years, obtaining a private license at age 17, commercial at
18, CFI at 21 and ATR by age 23. He has accumulated over 7000 hours of flying experience and holds
numerous type ratings. In addition, he is a certified airframe and power plant (A&P) mechanic.
He continues to be involved in general aviation as the owner of a 1940 Piper J-3 Cub and Beech
Bonanza. As well as being pleasure craft and business tools, both aircraft also serve Mr. Vesely
in benefiting the community's charitable organizations. The J-3 Cub provides rides for the "Young
Eagles" mentor program sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Bonanza flies terminally ill patients to and from medical treatment for Angel Flight and Air Life Line. As a member of the Commemorative Air Force and volunteer pilot for the Boeing b-17 and the world's only flying
Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Mr. Vesely helps bring to life World War II's valuable historical lessons.
Mr Vesely is an active member in the following organizations: National Business Aircraft Association,
Professional Aircraft Maintenance Association, Great Houston Business Association, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, Antique Aircraft Association, Cub Club,
Commemorative Air Force and the American Bonanza Society. Additionally he is a volunteer board
member of the Southwest Charter Schools.
The first production SB2C-1 flew on 30 June 1942 and first flew into combat in the campaign for Rabaul in November 1943. By the next year it replaced the aging SBD Dauntless as the Navy’s first-line dive bomber.
The “Big-Tailed Beast”, as its not-always-affectionate crewmen called it, was first designed in 1939. A maddening assortment of problems during development resulted in 880 design changes and delayed its entry into service long past the original deadline. However, the SB2C proved to be formidable and highly versatile weapon. It delivered bombs and depth charges with pinpoint accuracy, and could strafe with cannon, rocket and machine gun fire.
Some of the 7,200 Helldivers built flew with the USAAF as the A-25A Shrike, the Marine Corps and a few were delivered to the Royal Navy. The SB2C continued in service for several years after the War, and proved to be the Navy’s last pure dive bomber. The SB2C was phased out of U.S. military service in June 1949. However, the “dash-5s” continued to see service in Greece, Italy, France, Portugal and Thailand and last flown by Italy in February 1959.
The CAF Helldiver is a SB2C-5, the last production variant of the aircraft. It is distinguished from other SB2Cs by increased fuel capacity, a frameless sliding canopy for the pilot, a spinnerless, four-blade prop and the fixing of the tailhook in the extended position. Production began in February 1945, but few “dash-5s” reached active squadrons before wars end.
“THE BIG-TAILED BEAST” SB2C-5 N92879
The CAF’s SB2C was utilized by the Navy from July 1945 through August 1948. She was assigned, as a pool aircraft, to various locations, primarily in California. Her final assignment was with a pool at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas in April 1948. She was removed from active service on 31 August 1948 and declared surplus on 14 October 1948. This SB2C was used by an aeronautical school for several years and was procured by a California museum in May 1963. A CAF member purchased the aircraft from the museum and donated her to the CAF on 20 December 1971. The original colors and markings on the aircraft were probably VA-1B NAS Alameda, California from February through September 1947. This Helldiver is the only flying SB2C of the 7,200 built during World War II.
She experienced engine failure in 1982 and suffered extensive damage while making an emergency landing. Many said the “Beast” would never fly again; however, the members of the West Texas Wing did not accept this proposition. After thousands of volunteer man hours and a project cost in excess of $200,000, the “Beast” did fly again in September 1988. The current colors and markings are those of the carrier U.S.S. Franklin, CV-13.
Your contribution helps maintain and keep this magnificent aircraft flying. We thank you.