PASO ROBLES — Estrella Warbirds Museum Aircraft Restoration Manager and Combat Photographer, Dennis “Denny” Johansen will be the featured speaker during EWM’s dinner on Oct. 7.

dennis johansen
Dennis “Denny” Johansen

The event includes a no-host bar at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum. Dinner is catered and open to the public ($20/person). Reservations are required before 6 p.m., Monday before the dinner, and can be made online HERE or call 805 296-1935.

Denny and his wife moved to the Central Coast in 1970 shortly after completing his enlistment with the U.S. Army. They established Jim’s Campus Camera on Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo and operated the store for the next 43 years.

With the onset of retirement, he ran out of projects to do around their five acres just north of Santa Margarita and boredom was setting in. He had visited Estrella Warbirds Museum a couple of times after moving to North County and since he had his private pilot ticket, the interest in airplanes was always in the background.


When Denny first arrived at the Museum, he had no idea how he could contribute, but since he had been a docent at the Point San Luis Lighthouse Station for more than 10 years, he figured that being a docent would be a low impact, fun thing to do while meeting a lot of interesting people. 

Ron Boyt and a few other people were restoring the FA-8G and Boyt suggested that he try his hand at sanding. Boyt said that he could use another person on the end of a paint gun, and if he was willing to learn, Boyt was willing to teach him the finer points of putting paint on airplanes.

Denny had four mid-1970s collector cars that he had helped restore, but when it came to painting them, that was a task he felt was way beyond his talents, so he reluctantly paid the high price to have a quality paint shop finish the cars off.

Boyt convinced him that with practice and patience, almost anyone could learn to paint. Denny wasted no time and dove right in, plus read several books about restoring and painting airplanes, and thanks to the internet, he found many YouTube videos about painting cars and planes.

Since then, Denny has painted eight aircraft, three jeeps and trucks, and one caterpillar in the EWM restoration shop. He has just recently finished the OV-10A Bronco and will soon roll the A-7 Corsair II into the paint shop to begin the process all over again.