Front row, L-R, Alan Soule, Larry Ford, Brien Seeley, John Palmerlee, Wayne Cook
Back Row, L-R, Mike Fenn, Steve Williams, Jo Dempsey, Bruno Mombrinie
The CAFE Foundation Board
Brien A. Seeley M.D., President
1975 Brien devoted his two week vacation from training in eye surgery
to earning his private pilot’s certificate, and thus began a life-long
passion for flying. He joined EAA, read and studied aerodynamics, and
helped build two experimental aircraft. In 1981, along with Dr. Larry
Ford, Brien founded the CAFE Foundation and has served as its President
ever since. Brien conceived the “CAFE Formula,” a mathematical
expression for aircraft efficiency that formed the basis for 10 years
of CAFE 400 races in the 1980s.
graduating from UC Berkeley, where he played both football and
baseball, Brien finished medical school at UCSF, and obtained his M.D.
in just three years. After ophthalmology residency at UCSF, he opened
his eye surgery practice in Santa Rosa where he still practices full
Brien produced CAFE research in the areas
of aircraft performance, flight test data analysis, engine cooling,
electronic ignition, and local flow aero devices. With Ed Vetter he
invented and analyzed the first EPGs (exhaust pressure graphs) for
scientifically tuning aircraft exhaust systems. He also bought an older
four-seat Mooney and modified it so extensively that its cruise speed
increased by 36 mph.
Brien has received several
honors, including EAA’s “President’s Award” and Sonoma County Medical
Association’s “Outstanding Contribution to Sonoma County Medicine for
2003.” He is a past President of both EAA Chapter 124 and of UCSF
Cordes Eye Society. His hobbies are acoustic guitar and neurophysiology.
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Larry Ford, D.D.S., Vice-President
built his own experimental aircraft, a gorgeous Glasair RG. His
fascination with flying machines is among his earliest childhood
memories, and much of his adolescence was consumed building model
airplanes of all types. Larry’s exceptionally skilled craftsmanship in
working with his hands won the praise of his family dentist, and his
career aspirations of becoming a test pilot turned to that of becoming
a dentist. At age 20, while obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in
Chemistry at Santa Clara University, Larry obtained his private pilot
Larry’s craftsmanship and
leadership skills have helped CAFE compile its impeccable record of
flight test safety. His particular specialty has been in the artistry
of aviation photography that has been an integral part of each CAFE
flight test report. Larry designed the distinctive CAFE logo, produced
movies of the CAFE 400 races, and designed and shot photographs that
became the benchmark standard for how best to show off an aircraft’s
Larry has a busy practice in general
dentistry in Sebastopol and is an active Rotarian there. In 1981 he was
elected President of EAA Chapter 124 and co-founded the CAFE Foundation
with Brien Seeley.
Larry continues to serve
as the Vice President of CAFE, and he serves as their valued chef,
always making sure that the board members and the team of volunteers
stay well-nourished during their long hours of work at the CAFE Flight
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Johanna M Dempsey, Treasurer
became captivated by the sound of big radial engines in flight at an
early age as a United Air Lines brat. She began attending Reno Air
Races in 1980 where the sights and sounds compelled her to seek her own
niche in the aviation world. Earning her pilot certificates from
private through commercial multi-engine and on to instrument flight
instructor, Jo flew professionally as a flight instructor for many
years. Along the way she purchased, restored and flew a North American
T-28C with the help of the Pacific Coast Air Museum (PCAM). For years
Jo produced PCAM’s newsletter.
Jo received her bachelor’s
degree in geology with an emphasis in cartography and remote sensing
for California State University, East Bay. She completed graduate work
in geology at San Jose State University, and she received her teaching
credentials in physical science, math, and geography at Sonoma State
As a member of the local EAA Chapter 124, Jo
served on the Board of Directors and edited their newsletter. Here she
met and flew with CAFE board members and was asked to join their ranks
The enthusiasm, creativity, innovation and
synergy that encompass CAFE continue to be a delight to Jo. She carries
this energy into the classroom where she has taught aeronautics at
Santa Rosa Junior College and where she currently teaches high school
physical science and math. And although Jo does not race, she
photographed the Reno Air Races from pylon 6 for many years.
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Stephen P. Williams, Secretary
since he was young, Steve has been interested in science. In high
school he studied electronics and helped build and run the school's
television studio. At College of Marin he studied engineering and
worked in the computer center. In his spare time he started computing
“pi” into the thousands of decimal places, and he memorized “pi” to the
first fifty digits. Steve studied computer science at Cal Poly in San
Luis Obispo where he developed a talent for programming as he continued
to compute “pi.”
At National Controls Steve
worked as an engineer designing electronic scales. One of his designs
was capable of resolving a weight to one part in a million. This
experience proved useful years later in the design of the Barograph
that Steve built for Rutan’s Voyager World Flight. After two major
design improvements and successful testing in the NASA Ames Research
wind tunnel, the Barograph became the highly sensitive instrument CAFE
still uses for flight testing and research.
Hewlett Packard Steve worked as an engineer developing a number of
electronic instrument and system designs, including a large spectrum
monitoring system. Steve was a principal designer of HP’s MSIB bus
which allows instruments to communicate with each other. And Steve
continued to compute “pi”. In fact it was at HP that he achieved one
million decimal places for “pi.” Steve finally decided that was enough!
has developed the formulas which are the basis for the mathematical
design and analysis done by CAFE. In 1993 he developed the formula used
to score the CAFE Triaviathon. He continues to develop all the software
and hardware CAFE uses for research and analysis.
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Mike Fenn, Director
was drawn to aviation like a moth to a flame. When he was 7 years old
he watched his dad land a U.S. Army Beechcraft. He knew then that he
would learn to fly and be involved with airplanes for the rest of his
life. He has always loved the smooth shapes and the sounds of airplanes.
earned his private pilot certificate in 1983. He later found a 1949
Temco Swift in need of some tender loving care. Employing his skills as
a machinist, he fabricated and assembled the pieces necessary to return
the Swift to the air and enjoyed many happy hours flying.
more than 20 years, Mike has participated at EAA Chapter 124 and served
on its Board of Directors. He has designed and fabricated furnishings
and accessories for the EAA chapter auditorium. Mike is also an active
member of the Pacific Coast Air Museum. In the 1980s Mike was a regular
volunteer at the CAFE 400 Races.
his skills in drafting, machine work and mechanical design. He has
developed specialized parts ranging from micro electronic components to
large aircraft parts. Able to build almost anything, Mike enjoys the
challenge of taking on new, innovative design projects.
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Bruno Mombrinie, Director
While Bruno graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, most of his time was spent in the AeroAstro Department. As a freshman, he helped build the Chrysalis human powered airplane. Later that summer he got to fly the plane several times. “The feeling of being so, so high (39ft)...to fly under my own power was beyond…I just wanted to burst…actually I was so out of breath from the effort, I could hardly mouth 'yippee!'”
In 1984, Bruno founded AVEC Scientific Design, which specializes in a line of disposables for operating rooms. He is also CEO of an investment group, Haleys Pump Company, which is developing a medical device for children with spinal cord injuries. It is awaiting FDA approval.
Bruno has always been fascinated in the design and realization of cutting edge technology projects. In 2002 he developed the Negative Mass two piece crankset, the worlds' lightest and stiffest bicycle crankset. In 2005, he was a member of the Lisa Vetterlein Team, setting the woman’s human powered vehicle land speed record of 66.65 mph.
Bruno holds several patents and is always involved in some new project. Each summer, AVEC sponsors high school interns to tackle a project. The latest challenge is to develop a windmill-powered vehicle to break the sailing speed records on both land and sea.
Bruno is a member of the Sonoma County Woodworkers Association. He enjoys participating in the annual Bodega Bay Wooden Boat Challenge. He also enjoys vacations in the south of France and exploring tropical islands. He also won’t say no to a day of skiing, sailing, white water rafting or kicking back to watch a good movie.
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Alan M. Soule, Director
With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Alan has always been fascinated with flight and alternatively powered vehicles. Trying to get as close to human flight as possible, Alan took hang gliding lessons in the 1970’s. The most unforgettable flight was the first one when his feet left the ground, totally oblivious to being strapped into the kite.
Also, in the 70’s, Alan began driving alternative powered vehicles, starting with a propane powered Mercury Capri. The next step was to lease an EV1 until GM discontinued the program. When GM wanted it back, Alan refused to turn it in and when GM came to get it they had to pry it out of his hands. When Tesla started taking orders in 2006 Alan signed up and took delivery in 2008.
With a passion for electric vehicles, Alan is a director for the North Bay EAA (Electric Auto Association) and give talks promoting electric vehicles. Having learned that electric aircraft are also in development, Alan didn’t think twice about contributing what he can to help that effort.
Alan has been a commercial contractor in Sonoma County for 30 years. Specializing in custom pre-engineered, pre-fabricated steel structures, his company specializes in winery buildings. Alan has served as president of the Systems Builders Association and the Redwood Empire Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute.
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Wayne Cook, Director
Wayne has held an interest in flight / innovation for most of his life. His first airplane consisted of a fan-driven electric heater (looked like a real propeller), boxes & blankets. It put out a very satisfying amount of noise and exhaust smoke, until Airport Manager/ Mom shut down flight operations due to low visibility conditions.
Wayne’s active entrée to flying came as an adult, when he worked for a time with a multi-faceted aviation company blending a builder’s assistance program (Seawind, turbine Legend, others), FBO, flight school, restoration/conversion of amphibious Grumman Widgeons, etc. Although his role was as MIS, close association with a deeply experienced group of aviation professionals coupled with the ability to fly on the job led him to earning of his private pilot’s certificate. Seaplanes & bush-flying are a special interest.
He is currently restoring his Kitfox III/IV to airworthy status, after an extensive restoration process.
Wayne was a building contractor specializing in architectural woodworking for many years. Boat-building, furniture & fine cabinetry were a passion with him. As an outgrowth of this, he developed a number of tool products for the building industry and established manufacturing & marketing programs.
Branching into consumer products, Wayne conceptualized, co-developed & patented the first completely automated microprocessor controlled home coffee roaster.
Much of the past decade has been spent in Real Estate, land use & development.
Wayne is currently serving as EAA Chapter #124 President, and is a past member of the Board of Directors.
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John Palmerlee, Director
On July 2, 1972 John and his cousin Hart took their first flight in a small plane from a dirt airstrip on their family ranch near Oroville, California. The Wren 460 was a STOL modified Cessna 182, with controllable canards on the cowl and steerable stall fences on the wings – a real performer in its day. This eye- popper kicked off John’s love of aviation with a twist for short field performance.
Intending to own his own airplane on a budget, John completed the Aviation Maintenance program at Sacramento City College and bought a Cessna 170A with a small inheritance. The A&P license paid off while he earned his Commercial license and instrument rating. The 170 proved itself in the “bush” during July 1980 by carrying salmon off Alaskan beaches. He earned enough for the trip, and returned with a profound respect for pilots flying in the far North.
A passion for “How things work” brought John to Sonoma State University, where he earned a B.S. in Applied Physics. His senior project was building a scale model noise barrier and source to verify traffic noise attenuation formulae. Following graduation, he worked in research and development for Sound Solutions Acoustical Consulting Services in Santa Rosa, California.
John has been programming computers and tinkering with electronics since High School, and is currently a senior software engineer with the Workhorse Group, a product tracking software provider. He belongs to the local EAA Chapter 124, where he serves as webmaster and newsletter editor.
Clean, green, electric transportation found a place in John’s home when he and his Daughter Ellen converted a pickup to run on pure electric as her high school senior project. After attending two of CAFE’s Electric Aircraft Symposiums and volunteering at the 2011 Green Flight Challenge, the circuit was complete and John joined the CAFE Board to support their timely move to green, efficient flight.
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