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Symbol of America

  Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn has silver in his blood. His mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, was the cousin of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and founded the Wally Byam Caravan Club. Each week, Pee Wee shares one of his many stories, including his experiences on the iconic Airstream Caravans, his time spent working in the Airstream factory, and the many Airstreamers he’s befriended, far and wide. In this week’s Throwback Thursday with Pee Wee, Dale talks about Airstream as a U.S.-made product, and how the iconic travel trailers represent the spirit of America.

Airstream and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Since 2007, I’ve been on many journeys, making presentations and sharing my experiences with modern Airstreamers. I’ve gone from Texas to Maryland, and Wisconsin to Montana, with many a stop in between for a nice cold glass of milk. Topics range from Wally Byam, the founder of the company, to the Wally Byam Caravan Club. But it seems like the hottest topic, no pun intended, will always be the famous 1959 Airstream African Caravan. When it comes to that particular caravan, the most frequently asked question that always comes up is this: “The Caravanners traveling must have been very wealthy to afford

A Way of Life

  Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn has silver in his blood. His mother, Helen Byam Schwamborn, was the cousin of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and founded the Wally Byam Caravan Club. Each week, Pee Wee shares one of his many stories, including his experiences on the iconic Airstream Caravans, his time spent working in the Airstream factory, and the many Airstreamers he’s befriended, far and wide. In this week’s Throwback Thursday with Pee Wee, Dale talks about why Airstream is so widely adored and recognized.

The Mysterious Order of the Trident

The 1959 Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan was the event not to miss. 41 Airstream families and 104 Caravanners made the journey to Africa, and every single one crossed the equator, either by sea or by air. Equator-crossing ceremonies were held, a tradition of many seasoned sailors around the world. King Neptune, the Supreme Ruler, Monarch, and Potentate convened the first-timers, nicknamed Pollywogs. They were duly initiated into the mysterious Order of the Trident, recognizing their first equator crossing and their induction into the Brotherhood of the Nautilus. Don and Genevieve Christie, Caravanners from Carmel, Indiana, went through the initiation as

The Hands That Built Airstream

Last week, Dale discussed his feelings upon returning to Jackson Center, home of Airstream, for Alumapalooza 2015. See last week’s article here. I remember leaving the Main Street factory in 1955 on the first Eastern Canadian Caravan. Traveling Route 66, and then rerouting to Ohio, opened my eyes. Jackson Center was a city center composed of decade-old wooden structures. After a tour of duty in the US Army, I went to work at Airstream in California. In 1965, I established the first personnel department at the factory. Ohio and California were working on an employee classification system with defined work

Return to the Mothership

Arriving in Jackson Center for Alumapalooza, fond memories reappear from the past. For me, visiting Airstream is a pilgrimage which reminds me of the many times I’ve been fortunate to visit not only the factory but the charming and wonderful Jackson Center village. Today’s Airstream factory has been enlarged to meet the domestic and international markets that continue to grow. Growing up, I visited Wally many times at his home in Los Angeles. I took for granted his garage: looking back, that garage is a shrine, his home a brain trust, for it is on those grounds that Wally designed

Was Airstream an Accident?

Wally Byam, not unlike a mighty oak growing from an acorn, groomed and cultivated himself over the course of his lifetime. Frequently, the question comes up: why did Wally have the vision to create an Airstream, the legendary and iconic recreational vehicle whose lifetime stretches from one century to the next? Wallace Merle Byam came from pioneer stock. His paternal and maternal grandparents came overland on the Oregon Trail to settle down in Eastern Oregon. As an adolescent, he tended to his grandfather’s sheep on the rolling hills of eastern Oregon. This fostered his deep-seated love for camping. His sailing

Airstream’s Enduring Promise

“To keep alive and make real an enduring promise of high adventure and faraway lands…of rediscovering old places and new interests.” Stories of Airstream’s history take you to exotic, far away places as well as unvisited destinations just over the horizon, closer to home. The old times will tell stories of visiting pygmies in the old Belgian Congo, or parking beneath the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Even more amazing is landing in Singapore and traveling overland to Land’s End in Portugal. Andy Charles reported the Around the World Caravan was on the road for 403 days and 31,000 winding

Sinking Under the Nubian Sand

The Cape Town to Cairo Caravan traveled over 12,000 miles over seven arduous months, trekking through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. One notable experience, prior to traversing the Nubian Desert to Wadi Halfa (in present-day Sudan) took place after stocking up on supplies in Abu Hamed. Before leaving Khartoum, all Caravanners attended a general meeting run by Wally. Caravanners heading to Wadi Halfa had two choices. They could either safely and painlessly go by train and flat car, or they could elect to cross the sandy and ever-so-treacherous Nubian Desert. Wally had one stipulation:

The Troubleshooters

Do we take for granted that Airstream trailers appear on television programs, in movies, and in advertisements today? Perhaps. During the middle of the 20th century, things were a little different. Today, Airstream has proliferated as a “rock star.” But in those days, Airstream trailers appeared in Life, Look, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and in numerous other magazines. There were Airstream Wally Byam Caravans traveling across five continents, with newspapers and periodicals covering the Airstream adventures. But movies, television, and advertising hadn’t adopted Airstream as a movie star just yet. Then NBC scheduled a new series in 1959, The Troubleshooters, starring