Dallas, TX: Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, the Aviation Unmanned Vehicle Museum (AUVM), the only US military drone museum, in Caddo Mills, TX is hosting their grand opening.
The grand opening will include the Richardson Radio Control Club, RC flying, guided tours, food vendors,
demo flights with a Denny Plane replica, photos with Norma Jean Baker and more. The granddaughter of Reginald Denny, inventor of the radio plane and military target drone creator, will be there to celebrate the official Reginald Denny Day.
AUVM is the first and only US military drone museum in the United States. The expansive collection with pieces from the 1930s to 1990s was amassed by Parker, Texas Air Force veteran, Retired Lt. Col. Harold “Red” Smith. He advanced the country’s drone program during
the Vietnam war after President John F. Kennedy was frustrated with the Russians ability to shoot down CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers in 1960 and the Cubans shot down Air Force pilot Rudolf Anderson in 1962. From there they started actively testing and developing the US drone program. Smith became an integral part of that program and mission.
An article from the Dallas Morning News in 2014 stated: Mark Witham, founder of the Military Heritage Collection in Nevada, Texas, said Smith’s work kept pilots out of harm’s way. “It just saved countless lives and I doubt anyone ever turned to him and said ‘Thanks,’” Witham said. “I meet a lot of people and he’s one of my heroes.” Witham added that Smith’s team made the strides with only rudimentary technology available.“They were still using slide rules,” Witham said. “Those guys were designing things that were so far ahead that it was ridiculous. A document declassified in 2006 that analyzed the program from 1970 to 1972 states, “Many major combat decisions hinged on drone photography.” It also quoted a general who said the program’s role was “of the utmost importance to our tactical and strategic reconnaissance objectives.”
Smith said his team not only equipped drones to take photographs, but eventually to capture radio control signals that made enemy missiles ineffective.“There was an under secretary of the Air Force that said, ‘This one mission was the most successful electronic warfare enterprise in the whole history of the war, and it was done by a little $175,000 drone with special radios,”
Smith said. “I was pleased to hear him say that.” Drones have filled the headlines for the past few years since they’ve been used to make targeted kills, but Smith thought of the capability and For Immediate Release pursued it well before the U.S. used the technology abroad.
Smith retired with many military awards, among them the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal twice, the USAF Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Campaign medal with five battle stars, and a USAF Outstanding Unit Award with Combat “V.” He is a recipient of the Operations Award at the 1989 National NARPV Convention in Washington, D.C. for his contribution to the unmanned community, and was similarly recognized by the Air Force Association.
He retired from the USAF as Chief of the Operations Support Branch of the Drone/RPV System Project Office, and is an Associate Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a Life Member of the Air Force Association (AFA). After retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel, and after a stint with a major drone contractor, Smith founded R&D Engineering in 1977. Around 2014, Smith began working to bring his massive collection in a museum for the public.
Unfortunately, just a couple of years ago, before he could see it finished, he was struck and killed by a drunk driver in Caddo Mills, Texas. His son Doug, daughter Paula and grandson Marshall have labored to bring his dream to life. There are numerous in tact pieces and they are continuing to raise funds to restore the hundreds of pieces they have in the warehouse.
In order to gain support and awareness, they are hosting a free book signing with a top drone expert, Lt. Col Wayne Phelps for his new book, “On Killing Remotely, The Psychology of Killing With Drones.” Lt Col Kenneth Wayne Phelps III (USMC, Retired) served five deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2012. His military career coincided with the escalating use of drones as weapons, and in the two years prior to his retirement in 2018 he served as commanding officer of four Unmanned Aircraft System teams active abroad in fighting violent extremist organizations. He is an internationally recognized scholar, writer, soldier, and speaker. He is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression, the roots of violence, and violent crime. He is a former West Point psychology professor and is currently the director of the Warrior Science Group.
About Aviation Unmanned Vehicle Museum: AUVM the only US military drone museum.
It was started in 2020 after the founder spent his career working in the US Air Force drone program and then collecting pieces throughout the rest of his life. Our mission is to honor the men and women in our military and the private sector that paved the way for remotely piloted vehicles, more commonly known today as drones. AUVM strives to educate the public about the beginning history and uses of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV’s).
The museum includes drones from the early 1930s that were used for gunnery practice, to the 1970s when the first strike drone was born. We are a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization and rely on the support of donations and volunteers. We are located at the Caddo Mills Municipal Airport in Caddo Mills, Texas (7F3).