SAN DIEGO ASTRONOMY ASSOCIATION NEWS AND NOTES, DECEMBER 2006
Remembering Don Hamm
by Alice Harvey
Long time SDAA member and Central Star Party Coordinator Don Hamm passed away suddenly on Sunday, October 22, 2006, in Riverside, California. He apparently suffered a heart attack as he was landing his plane at the Riverside airport. Don was 75 years old.
Don was a tireless volunteer in our Outreach program. He loved working with the schools, and was determined to try and enthuse the next generation of astronomers. One of his constant laments was the fact that not enough kids were taking an interest in science – he was always looking for new ways to catch their interest. As the Central area coordinator, Don was responsible for most of the schools in the San Diego Unified School District, not a small area. There were many times that he had 2 or 3 star parties in the same week. He was also one of the original members of the USS Midway group, and was always there for the Midway programs, either helping out with the Night Sky Network presentation or up on the flight deck assisting with the scopes. Although he didn’t come out to TDS often to observe, any time there was a work party or clean-up day, he was there.
We all knew Don loved his plane and loved to fly. He built his plane, an RV-4, from a kit over a period of almost 8 years. (One of my few regrets in life will be that I did not take him up on his offer of a trip in that plane!) He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and flew his plane regularly between SD and Riverside, where he kept the plane and where his son lives. He was also very active with the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and a volunteer in the Museum’s Restoration Department, working to preserve historical aircraft. As a pilot, he also participated in meetings of the SD Airports Advisory Committee with regard to the proposed use of MCAS Miramar as shared military/commercial facility (recently turned down by voters).
His love of flying was evidently a lifetime one. Few of us knew that Don was a retired Colonel and pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Don was active in Daedalian Flight Thirteen, the San Diego chapter of the Order of Dadaelians, a national fraternity of commissioned U.S. Military pilots, both active and retired.
Don had also recently taken up motorcycle riding. He was a dedicated Porsche owner and driver, and a member of the national 1969 Porsche 912 club. He was also long time member of the Don Diego Ski Club and editor of its newsletter “Ski Chatter.” At a Ski Club outing at Paso Picacho in June 2006, Don brought together two of his groups by arranging for night sky viewing with telescopes from the SDAA.
Don will be missed, not just by the SDAA, but by the members of his other groups, and the many people whose lives were touched when he showed them the sky for the first time. Whether viewing or flying through it, the sky was always his passion.
Note: Permission to post the above tribute to Don Hamm was requested of the San Diego Astronomy Association. The original Newsletter article with photos is available at: