In the late 1970’s Ozark Air Lines started experiencing retirements of pilots who had reached their mandatory retirement age of 60 years old. The flight operations group was a close family organization and management wanted the history of Ozark be preserved and the retired pilot employees to be recognized for their efforts. In early 1980 a joint meeting was held between Captain Rich Roberts, Ozark’s Flight Operations Director of Flying, and Captains Dick Chapple, Cal Ettel and Pat Sweeney suggesting that they consider forming a retiree’s organization. After a number of joint meetings, the group agreed to form such an organization and Ozark Flight Operations management supported the founders by providing time, talents, money and assistance.
At the suggestion of the company, the founders chose the name “Ozark Silver Swallows Association.” The name signified the silver in the retiree’s hair along with the “Swallows” company logo. Soon the Silver Swallows were drawing financial support by conducting annual retirement social events and the organization began to grow.
Ozark Air Lines was sold to Trans World Airlines in 1986 and soon thereafter the Association began losing the members interest and membership decreased. In 1999, the Board established new direction for the Ozark Silver Swallows. A bi-monthly newsletter was published, an e-mail notification program was created, scheduled monthly Board meetings were established with agendas and minutes, duties of the officers were realigned and three annual social events were enhanced. The membership recognized the new direction of the organization and today almost 1100 members continue to support the Association.
In 2001, the Ozark Silver Swallows were incorporated as a not-for-profit Missouri corporation. The Ozark Silver Swallows, Inc. mission is “To Perpetuate the History and Commemorate the former Employees of Ozark Air Lines.” A Silver Swallows company store was established to bring in funds to offset the expenses of three annual social events.
While initially the Silver Swallows was an Ozark pilot’s organization, the by-laws were amended in 2002 to include all former Ozark employees. Today, all Ozark employees are encouraged and welcome to join the Ozark Silver Swallows.
In 2005 the Ozark Silver Swallows created and dedicated an Ozark Air Lines Museum at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. In September of 2005 an Ozark Air Lines Employees Commemorative Wall was dedicated. In 2006 the Ozark Employees Swallows Lane Walkway which further enhances the Ozark Plaza area at the organizations reunion site was dedicated. All of these projects further fulfill the Ozark Silver Swallows mission of perpetuating the history and commemorating the employees of Ozark Air Lines.
On January 1, 2006 the Ozark Silver Swallows and the Ozark Alumni Association combined their memberships and now operate under the name of the Ozark Silver Swallows Alumni Association.
In December of 2006, the Ozark Silver Swallows Alumni Association became acquainted with an St. Louis aviation history project being conducted by the Wiegand Foundation.
The project recognizes those former aviation companies which operated out of the Lambert-St. Louis International Terminal Building. Because Ozark Air Lines was based in St. Louis, the Wiegand Foundation invited our organization to be a part of the project and allowed us to include Ozark Air Line history in a lighted display case at the public side of the entrance and exit areas of the St. Louis C and D concourses.
Two of the four part display case contains sculptured busts and materials of Charles Lindbergh and Emilia Earhart. The other two sections feature Ozark Air Lines museum aircraft models and memorabilia.
We are honored to be associated with The Wiegand Foundation which is a public benefit non-profit corporation, organized for charitable and educational purposes who’s mission is to achieve the widest possible public awareness of, and interest in and support for its patriotic and educational programs. And we thank them for reintroducing our airline’s name and legacy back into the St. Louis Terminal Building.
Ozark Silver Swallows Alumni Association publishes colorful bi-monthly newsletters, sponsors bi-monthly ROMEO (“Retired Ozark Employees Eating Out”) Breakfasts or Luncheons, annual retirement dinners, holiday celebrations and an annual reunion each second Saturday of September. Go to the EVENTS and PHOTOS sections in the menu bar for more information.
Should you have an interest in joining the Ozark Silver Swallows Alumni, applications are available on this this website. Go to ADMINISTRATION in the menu bar and pull down to the APPLICATION tab.