The concept for an organization dedicated to the Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog originated with Mr. Phil Phillips of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Phil had served as a U.S. Army Aviator in Vietnam and had flown numerous combat missions in the Birddog. Once back in the States and beginning a career in the private sector, he thought affectionately about the humble little warbird from Cessna that had served him so well. Unfortunately, he was also frustrated. There was very little printed material about this noteworthy airplane and worse yet there was not a single flyable example anywhere near his hometown that would allow him to borrow a few minutes of “cockpit time” to reacquaint himself with his old mount. He set about to correct both problems.
Research indicated that there were a few demilitarized Birddogs that were in the hands of civilian owners. The Civil Air Patrol also had a few and there was a rumor that those airplanes might be sold to private individuals at some point. Interest was picking up in the civilian market where the aircraft’s excellent flying characteristic and reasonable operating cost were beginning to cause some excitement. Phil found a tired old Birddog of his own and began a quality restoration. Before it was over, he not only had a Birddog to fly, but it was a show-stopper to boot!
Phil approached the Bird Dog’s lack of notoriety with the same intensity. An organization was formed, the International Birddog Association (IBDA) and in 1984, Phil published the first issue of The Observer, a newsletter dedicated exclusively to the Birddog enthusiast. It contained a mixture of war stories, technical tips, and classified advertisements. Little by little, it caught on. It was appreciated by Birddog pilots and military aviation students alike and became the focus for a growing number of fans for this unsung little aircraft.
The IBDA grew over the years and eventually became a full-fledged 501©3 organization supervised by an elected Board of Directors and Officers. Elections are held every two years and this gives those interested in serving in any of those positions a chance to do so.
In 1998 the IBDA became even more well known world-wide with the initiation of a new website. With the site the IBDA was able to sign up new members and keep track of Birddogs that were for sale, bought, and restored to flyable condition. Parts suppliers were located and members notified of those sources. The organization was serving its members in a way not possible before the website was created.
In 2000, the IBDA, with the assistance of Cessna and the U.S. Air Force, held its first “Birddog Reunion” in Wichita, Kansas to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the aircraft. There were 46 Birddogs and over 250 people in attendance at that first reunion which turned out to be a premier event for all.
Since then, the IBDA has held two more reunions, now labeled “Birddog Roundup.” Both were held at Fredericksburg, Texas and occurred in 2005 for the 55th anniversary of the aircraft, and in 2010 for the 60th anniversary. Through events such as anniversary celebrations, airshow and fly-in participation, and support of military units that flew the Birddog the history of the aircraft is kept alive for all generations to experience and enjoy. The IBDA serves those who were pilots, observers, maintenance crews, and those who have a love of aviation and military history.
As a member of the International Birddog Association, you’ll be supporting the preservation and history of the Birddog. You’ll have special access to the members’ area of the website containing resources such as hard to find technical and authenticity information, history, Birddog photos, and much more. You’ll be able to network with Birddog pilots, owners, and enthusiasts, from all over the world.
Joining the IBDA is easy, and the yearly dues are very reasonable at only $30.
To join, simply click on one of the three buttons below and complete the application process. Or, you may pay by check and print out an application form for mailing. No matter the method, simply follow the instructions.
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All memberships renew in January of the next calendar year.