Contributed by Paul J. Waeghe, AFCM Retired email@example.com [09FEB98]
The spirit of co-operation that developed since World War II among the aircrews who fly Maritime Patrol aircraft led to the establishment of a worldwide association, ''VP INTERNATIONAL''.(The term VP is a US/Canadian military designation applied to long range, land based, antisubmarine, maritime reconnaissance aircraft) The formation of the association traces it's beginnings to RCAF Station Comox BC on 1 Mar 1966.
On this date, one American, one Australian, and nineteen Canadian airmen became the founding members of an association or airmen to be known as the P-2000 Club. Wing Commander Herb Smale, as Commanding Officer of 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, wished to increase aircrew pride in the unit by recognizing the experience and seniority of many or the aircrew and more importantly, to stimulate enthusiasm for long range maritime flying operations among the junior aircrew joining the squadron.
The original charter of the organization had two principle objectives; first to form an association of airmen who had logged over 2000 flight hours in the Neptune P-2 aircraft for the purpose of promoting harmony and good fellowship; and secondly, to foster and encourage the formation of additional branches of the P-2000 Club throughout the world.
Although the association grew rapidly, the P-2V Neptunes were being retired from active operational flying and new members became scarce. Thus, in 1970, the association was expanded to become the "VP INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION". a new charter, constitution, and by-laws were drawn up and a new crest/emblem approved. Embossed on a Maple Leaf is the silhouette of a Neptune and the letters "VP", with the inscription "INTERNATIONAL" circling the globe. The Neptune denotes the link with the P-2000 Club, the Maple Leaf indicates the Canadian origin of the association, and the globe doubles as a gyro symbolizing the stability and precision necessary in Anti-Submarine Warfare(ASW) teamwork plus the worldwide fellowship the association encompasses.
The objective of VP INTERNATIONAL is to "MAINTAIN AN ORGANIZATION OF AIRMEN TO FOSTER GOODWILL AND FELLOWSHIP AMONG LONG RANGE SUB-SEARCHING PATROL AND RECONNAISSANCE FLYERS THROUGH THE PROMOTION OF UNDERSTANDING AND RECOGNITION OF VP OPERATIONS AND OF THEIR IMPACT ON MILITARY AVIATION."
Membership has grown to over 5000 members with Wings at various units in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, and The United States. There are also members at large in France, Italy, Japan, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Cyprus and Pakistan. Membership is open to all aircrew of the free world who have flown over 1500 hours in long range, land based maritime patrol aircraft. Honorary membership is awarded to select officials and senior officers in recognition of their contribution to the promotion of the principles and ideals or the association.