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"The Guardian"

Art Vance was known to many as "The Guardian". For many years, while serving as the President of the Unlimited Racing Division, Art also filled the tall shoes of safety pilot for the Unlimiteds imparting the wisdom he had gained in his many years in air racing to any new pilot coming into the sport.

Late last year, the aviation community "lost another one" when Art flew into the eternal land of blue skies.

His friend, Larry Rengstorf submitted this tribute to Art Vance.

Local Warbird Pilot lost in Crash: 10-17-2005

It is with great sadness that I must inform you that our friend, Art Vance (born Arthur St Clair Vance Jr, 8 April 1941)was killed 8 October 2005 in the crash of The Air Museum's~Planes of Fame - F6f Hellcat. As a museum volunteer,Art was ferrying the plane from Sevierville Tn to Little Rock AFB, AR and encountered bad weather, and struckpower lines along I-40 about 60 miles from his departure point. Vances abilities were so admired that owners at the Planes of Fame entrusted him with their prized Hellcat to fly at several airshows around the country each airshow season, and unfortunately - this being the last show until next season.

A Tribute was arranged on 15 Oct at the Vances hangar, with approximately 400-500 people attending, many flying in from various airports. A luncheon was enjoyed by all, as well as a time of remembrance and stories about Art. Later a Missing Man formation was flown by Mike Brown flying his F7f Tigercat, Brian Sanders flying Sanders Hawker Sea Fury, and Dennis Sanders flying Art's P-51 Mustang-Speedball Alice.It all was a very nice tribute to a man that has dominated the warbird scene at Sonoma County Airport through the years. He will be missed very deeply, for his quick wit, warm smile, and many fun stories, and always being there to give a helping hand.

Art, always adventurous, avidly indulged in his favorite pastime: restoring, flying, racing and instructing in World War II airplanes, most notably his P-51 "Speedball Alice", and just recently finishing an AT-6 which he and son Dan restored. Art served as president of the Unlimited Division of the National Air-Racing Group. Known to many as the "air boss" at the Reno Air Races, Pylon Racing Seminar, and the Tunica (Mississippi) Air Races. He also was very active in the PCAM "Wings over Wine Country" shows through the years in his P-51, generally "leading the pack" during the many fly-bys through out the show. Flying runs in the family. Arts father flew for TWA & his son Dan is a pilot for American airlines.Art flew for Flying Tigers for many years then for Federal Express (FedEx) until his retirement four years ago.

Even before his airline captain retirement, he loved backpacking, hiking, biking, tennis & duck hunting with his son Dan. Art never missed an opportunity-for fun or to help a friend.He leaves a legacy of many good times, a generous heart, and a lesson of a life well-lived. With a devilish grin and a roaring laugh, his was not an unfinished life. It is such a tremendous loss to the airshow and warbird communities. He is survived by his wife (of over 40 years) Judie, and son Dan and daughters Debbi and Sharon, and their families.

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Photo 2005
Wayne Sagar all rights reserved

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