name is Dale Collier and I have been following the Grateful Dead
since I saw them in Utica, NY in 1973. I next saw them at Summer
Jam, Watkins Glen in 1973. I have since seen the band live
hundreds of times mostly in and around the Bay Area of California.
learned to fly airplanes in the Air Force and was stationed in
Northern California. I went to many Bay Area Grateful Dead
Concerts and eventually became very good friends with Dan Healy
and the Ultrasound Crew. I also got to meet all of the band
members at various times. I even got to play a little guitar with
Jerry backstage at Laguna Seca.
an avid pilot, I got the opportunity to fly some of the sound crew
and a few band members to some gigs. I eventually got a Chief
Pilot’s job at Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies flying two of the coolest
Douglas DC-3’s in existence. I had always wanted to airdrop a
load of flowers over a Grateful Dead Concert. When Bill Graham was
killed in a helicopter crash, I approached Peter and Bob Barsotti
about airdropping flowers over the Memorial in Golden Gate Park.
We ended up airdropping 65,000 carnations (every available
carnation in San Francisco) over the concert as the Grateful Dead
played. The plane we used was the first Military DC-3 ever built.
It was General Hap Arnold’s (the Chief of Staff of the Army Air
Corp in WWII) personal command post aircraft and was designated a
C-41 (the only aircraft in history with that model designation).
Hap Arnold learned to fly from the Wright Brothers. I always
thought it ironic and fitting that we used an ex-warbird for such
a memorial in honor of the man that did so much for the Summer of
few years later I again was airdropping carnations over Golden
Gate Park in Honor of Jerry Garcia. This time we used two antique
Stearman Biplanes. One towed a banner that read “Jerry Loves You”
and I was stuffed into the front cockpit of the other Stearman
surrounded by bags of 6500 carnations which I threw out over the
1996, I flew General Hap Arnold’s C-41 from California to
Normandy, France to participate in the 50th Anniversary of D-Day.
We were part of a vintage squadron of WWII aircraft that flew over
Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, President Bill
Clinton and various heads of State of Europe who were on board
the Royal Yacht Britannia. We also flew over the Normandy beaches
as part of the memorial ceremonies.
the early 1990’s, I had the idea of making “Grateful Dead
Pilot Wings” because I wanted some for my flight jacket. I
rekindled the idea about the time of the Band’s 25th
Anniversary. I had some rough prototypes made but, that is as far
as the idea went at that time. In 1997 I finally submitted my idea
to Patricia Harris of Grateful Dead Merchandising and she loved
the concept. With her help, I got the Wings approved for sale through
the Almanac and eventually I received the Official License to
manufacture and sell my Wings through other outlets. My line of
merchandise has grown to include an expanded line of Wings incorporating
many of the Grateful Dead’s famous logos as well as various clothing and
accessories. The Wings have been sold by distributors, wholesalers, retailers,
The Almanac, and the Official Grateful Dead website for many years. Now, they
are finally available through my own company website:
is with great pride that I offer these “Grateful Dead
Pilot/Aircrew Wings” for all the Deadheads out there who have
truly earned their “Wings” during those fantastic years of
outstanding show “Experiences”......with more to come. Have You Got Your Wings?
Well, now you can wear the badge proudly. The essence of the
Grateful Dead will never die or even “Fade Away”.
back often for more items featuring this design as well as new
related cool stuff in the future!