Oakland Cloud Dusters
Free Flight from the San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond

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An Overdue Eulogy

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Engraved on the David Lloyd Memorial Trophy are the words "For Achievement and Leadership (in the field of) Model Aeronautics." How many, who have won this trophy but didn't know Dave, have conjured up an image of a charismatic leader, a creative wizard, or a keen and powerful competitor in order to justify in their minds a trophy that is committed to the perpetuation of his memory? What kind of exceptional person, what kind of goal-defining modeler could Dave Lloyd have been to have his contribution recognized annually and kept alive after more than forty years?

To those whose names grace the trophy, who knew Dave, the answer is, naturally, one of palpable memory. For those who didn't, there persists an intangible shroud of mystery nurtured by a kind of uncomfortable response when someone asks about him, by a kind of uneasy guilt that he may actually be forgotten. That's the way of memory of course.

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Was David Lloyd greatly memorable? Or was it just that he died young--and to those of us, his peers, equally young, the reminder of our own mortality shocked us, and placed him permanently into our awareness, making him somehow special, somehow particular and, somehow, just a little disturbing? To some degree both are probably true, and the flow of years has embroidered and enriched yet thinned and unraveled the texture of the memory, so that the aura of mystery, the necessary fiction, prevails.

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If you were to ask one bunch of the old-time Cloud Dusters--Bob Meuser, Carl Rambo, Serge Milisich, or myself--we would probably say: "He was the kid who went to our school; the guy down the block; the kid we palled around with", and with whom we shared the energy of young, male, adolescents growing up in the Depression (a lean but surprisingly optimistic time) thrown more heavily on our own resources, perhaps, than those of later generations. If you were to ask other surviving "Dusters" or modelers of that time--Manny Andrade, or Charlie Pottol--they would probably say that along with us, they pursued, with Dave, a common hobby and a shared love of flight and its powerful role in re-shaping the world, its new sense of time and space, in the years just preceding W.W. II. These assertions, of course, would be true. But they wouldn't explain what in his nature made Dave so special in our memories.


So let's be fair to that memory...let's examine it...

Dave was a gifted young man but he was not, in the parlance of the time, a "go getter". He was a fine student, but he blazed no academic trails for us to envy. He was a "regular guy" (the son of a blunt and taciturn Welsh father with a brusque kind of warmth, who ran Tom Lloyd's Automotive Repair Shop in downtown Oakland, and a quiet and self-possessed mother, a former school teacher, who always seemed to know when to serve grilled cheese-and-tomato sandwiches to hungry hobbyists or exam crammers hanging out at Dave's place). Sharing his parent's natures, being both assured and assertive yet quiet and unassuming, he was not the vivid and meteoric personality that would make him notable. He was hard-working and organized, a better mechanic than most of us, as he helped his father in the shop on Saturdays (curtailing his flying time but honing his mechanical skill). He was a promising if not an outstanding modeler. He built well and flew knowledgeably--and he helped others significantly, but he drew no particular attention for his craft. He was neither a consistent contest winner nor a record breaker; he didn't quite have time for that kind of focus.

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He was a good looking guy, but we weren't drawn to Dave because of his looks. He had a good, strong, average build, but he wasn't exceptionally athletic. He had a neat sort of polished penny-loafer, open shirt appearance, but we didn't associate with him for his style. Why on earth, then, did we all admire David Lloyd?

Well, you see, he had a car.

In a time when money was scarce and most of us, if we were lucky, borrowed the family car.....David had a car.

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At first it was a spare one from his dad's garage (often an early 30's REO Speedwagon with, believe it or not, an automatic shift) and that was pretty impressive to those of us who were forced to take the streetcar or the old "Red Train" to the mud flats to go flying on weekends. Manny Andrade can tell you of the arrangement he had with the conductors to ring the trolley bell as they went by his house, if there were any model builders on board, so he could meet them at the "flats"...but Dave had a car.

Eventually one of his own. A l932 Austin. The smallest American car ever made. It could be picked up easily and moved, and often was, onto the high school lawn--just a good natured prank--so Dave was getting attention: he owned that car.

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But even more important than owning it--he shared it. And it was in that action that Dave became integral to our lives as competing model builders. He was the guy who got us there.

Dave went to every contest and every flying session he could. He didn't always compete but he always went--and he took us. Crammed into a l932 Austin, perhaps, but he got us there. And we grew, consequently, because we could be active and participate more fully in our beloved hobby.

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Eventually he got a '39 or '40 Ford sedan and in it we conquered the flying flatlands of North-Central California (strange, outlying places with names like Tulare, Hanford, Fresno, Modesto and Manteca) with just a little more comfort than the Austin, but perhaps, a trifle less character--and always stopping for a milk shake in that classic creamery in Tracy, on the way home.

It wasn't, of course, just that Dave had a car. It was that he shared it. And here was the genius of Dave's nature: his unqualified generosity.

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Dave was an extraordinarily selfless person in a company of strivers and individualists, independent thinkers and competitors. His nature provided a kind of catalytic glue that contributed directly to the substance of the group. He "got us there" and by so doing, kept us together--and for no personal gain--only, it would appear, for the satisfaction of doing it. David was the essence of what we comfortably describe as "a good guy".

He most certainly was that: honest, generous, selfless and devoted, but actively--not just your passive "nice guy". And so, each of us took from Dave an awareness of a special kind of being and whether we knew it or not, were better for it.

His was an outstanding "achievement", a special kind of leadership. And if, in retrospect, he is a little enlarged and fills a space in our memories bigger than life, we must remember that he died young, in the promise of his life, without the imperfections of age or the unconcealable battle scars from a weary-day world.

To those who have received the David Lloyd trophy, and for those who shall do so, this should be pre-eminent: his achievement and leadership were not one of material measurement but that more subtle one of spirit and nature that affects the world around it and makes it the better for its presence. That is an honor worth winning and it is David's legacy to us who remained behind.

I can't help feeling that somewhere, if one accepts this sort of thing, there is a little band of neophyte angel kids with untested wings that Dave is hauling to the local training field. If this is true, and I hope it is, I also hope that it's in that 1932 Austin.

Written in 1987 by Stuart Bennett for the 50th anniversary of OCD.

Past Winners of the David Lloyd Memorial Trophy

Awarded For
Achievement and Leadership
Model Aeronautics
1946
Myrtle & Harvey Robbers
By The Oakland Cloud Dusters

1947 Michael Demos 1979 Fred Terzian 2001 Fred Terzian
1948 Guy E. Dake 1980 Erwin Rodemsky 2002 Aimee Scheiman
1951 Henry Cole 1981 Joe Foster 2003 Aimee Raymond
1953 Joseph Foster 1982 Robert Meuser 2004 Lou Young
1954 Joseph Bilgri 1983 George Xenakis 2005 Gary Hinze &
1956 Charles Pottol 1984 Henry Cole Dick Douglas
1957 Manual Andrade 1985 Walter Getsla 2006 Rocco Ferrario
1959 David Acker 1986 Fred Terzian 2007 Dick Douglas
1960 Lawrence Parsons 1987 George Xenakis 2008 Gary Hinze &
1961 Joseph Bilgri 1988 Bud Romak Lou Young
1962 Joseph Bilgri 1989 Joe Foster 2009 Gary Hinze
1963 Manuel Andrade 1990 Stuart Bennett 2010 Bill Vanderbeek
1964 Joseph Bilgri 1992 Fred Terzian 2011 Fred Terzian
1965 Bud Romak 1993 Steve Geraghty & 2012 Fred Terzian
1966 OCD NATS Team Sherman Gillespie 2013 Rocco Ferrario
1968 OCD NATS Team 1994 Bill Vanderbeek 2014 Truman Cross &
1970 Marty Thompson 1995 Bud Romak & Dick Douglas &
1971 Marty Thompson Carl Rambo  Fred Terzian
1972 Robert Meuser 1996 Andrew Tagliafico
1973 Erwin Rodemsky 1997 Bill Vanderbeek
1974 George Xenakis 1998 Lou Young 
1975 Lawrence Parsons 1999 Stuart Bennett &
1976 Bud Romak Herb Robbins & 
1977 Steve Geraghty George Xenakis
1978 Joe Foster 2000 Bud Romak 
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