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Birth of the C5 Fighter Squadron

by Racer Dan

It was a rainy night when it all started. I had been on the Internet only a few months, and had participated in a couple of Corvette group mailing lists, called listservers.

They both covered our hobbies, one specializing in the ZR1 Corvettes, made from 1990 through 1995, and equipped with a Lotus designed V8 capable of some impressive performance. The other net was more for problem solving, but any topic was welcome, as long as it was Corvette related.

As I thumbed through the electronic mail I had received in the last 24 hours, I started to pick up several on the topic of the National Corvette Museum. As I was a Lifetime member of the museum, I took more than a casual look at the posts. There were over 10 as I remember, all of them talked about how the museum had gone south in a hurry.

As the days progressed, so did the subject of the NCM. As with any mail, people tend to sometimes add to the truth a little, and it wasn't long until these stretches of the imagination were added as truths. Unfortunately for me, this got my dandruff up, and as my blood pressure increased, so did my need to tell the truth to the public on the nets. I can recall one of the first responses I got from my first letter (a letter of support toward the NCM) but I couldn't print it! It had some pretty nasty things to say about me and the NCM... !!!

Although, I thought at the time I was a one man band on a mission that would likely be impossible, I actually had a few friends of support pop up. These friends and I communicated on a daily basis as to the current condition of the NCM, and also of those who posted the negative posts on it. It wasn't long before our little group could see that we had found a need to continue to support the museum, and its newly announced Director, Wendell Strode. We even wrote to some newspapers in support of the museum, which were printed.

I had done some digging on this new director, and found out he had been involved directly with the NCM since before it was even built, and he cared for it deeply. Some people had an interest in not supporting the new director, and it would be weeks before the reasons were well known. Let me just say that some were using the Internet to reach hundreds of supporters in an effort to force someone else in this newly announced position.

A few of us recognized the political moves on the NCM, and decided to come out into the open. This handful of supporters used the net as an avenue to publish factual information on the Museum that would be positive reinforcement for it.

During this same time span, several electronic e-mails came out on the Internet tearing apart the newly designed C5 Corvette. There seemed to be no one interested in giving it a chance, either, so I found another reason to stand up for what I believed. The C5 Corvette was still a Corvette. Give it a chance, I told them. Sure there will be defects, every new design has them. But, it will be a Corvette!!! Boy, did I take on a whole lot of flak! But, unlike anyone else on the Internet, I had actually SEEN the new C5 Corvette, in action on the track. Not only had I seen it, but I was not in the group that was banned from talking about it, so I spoke up with factual information.

I guess I should explain that two of us on the internet actually took pictures of the C5 Corvette, and sent them around the world on the net. Both of us are in the C5 Fighter Squadron, too. Boy did we stir it up with those pictures! GM was kind of upset at us for a long while, sneaking into Road Atlanta like we did! But, we had enough fun to last a lifetime!

When the Vancouver Sun printed an attack on our hero and Corvette guru Zora A. Duntov, we went into action. The C5 Squadron was born that night, as we wrote a story of how a C5 Corvette transformed into a Fighter Jet, with a mission to convince the Vancouver Sun that Zora was indeed a hero. In less than a week, the Vancouver Sun printed a retraction, and requested a truce. The C5 Squadron won its very first battle.

When January 6, 1997 came around for the unveiling of the new C5 Corvette, the C5 Fighter Squadron was there. We encouraged others to come too and enjoy the event, which was a very successful event for the museum. We met at the NCM as a show of support, and then managed to get introduced to Wendell Strode personally. An acquaintance of ours told him we were big supporters, and then drug us into the Board Room for a conference (okay, we weren't exactly fighting!).

We spent our time telling Wendell that there are many supporters out there, and we represented a select few of them. But that day, we pledged our support to back him, have faith in his ability, and let him do his job. The group was made up of the Arkansas Flash (John Rupp), The Junkyard Warrior (Ed Simmons) with his son Ryan, The X Man (Glen Sands), the Puppy (Shane Reagan), and myself (Dan Harrington). Every one of us was from a different state, and met here this day strictly for support of the museum.

When we left that Sunday, we all started a renewed effort to help the museum. While some of us kept an eye on the group that had tried to force the change of director, the rest of us started writing on the net, about anything good we could find about it. Some said we looked through rose-colored glasses, and I suppose that was true at the time.

We encouraged everyone we could find to join the NCM as members. We sold raffle tickets for the 97 Corvette they were going to raffle, and then encouraged others to as well. We sent out challenges to raise money for the NCM, and slowly we were gaining strength. We even had a few people ask if they could join our group!

Of course we also took the time to write some adventures of the C5 Fighter Squadron and their clandestine operations in the night. Soon there was people writing about a sighting of the Squadron's elusive jets, and then we were chasing after anyone who dared to attack the C5 Corvette, or the NCM. Boy did we have fun.

Well, the rest is, as they say, "history." I guess you can see how we came up with our name, and know that we are the guys who will stand up for the Corvette, past, present and future; as well as the National Corvette Museum.

We have raised some money for their cause, signed up a bunch of members (Lifetime, Charter, and Founding), and purchased a brick for our group. The Squadron has its own logo, web site, and even its own net now. Several of the Squadron members are Lifetime members of the museum, and more are Founding or Charter too. We use the NCM as our meeting place, and continue to write stories on our "missions." Check out our web site if you like (it also stores all of our stories for those interested):

The C5 Squadron has continued to grow, too. I must admit it is extremely hard to get into our group, we are very protective of it. The secret initiation we have is written in some of our stories...

We can also assure all Corvette owners worldwide, that this group will stand by the NCM as its protector. We are there if they need us, we will rally to their defense, as our heritage demands. It is a very special place to thousands of enthusiasts, and we plan to keep it just that way, for all to enjoy!

So, if you hear several jets flying overhead late at night, you can take a deep breath and relax, it is probably the C5 Fighter Squadron on patrol... after all, one of our pilots is right in your own back yard! Major Mike is his name... :)

Save the wave, supporting the museum... :)
Racer Dan

NCM Fighter Squadron
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