Ron Paul
2002 Ron Paul Chapter 77

Commemorate A Unique And Magnificent Group Of Aviators

25 July 2002

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2002 Ron Paul 77:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to commemorate a unique and magnificent group of old aviators who have received very little publicity in the civilian sector. They will celebrate their 90th and 60th anniversaries in conjunction with the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) “Wings Over Houston” Air Show from October 23–26, 2002, in Houston, Texas.

2002 Ron Paul 77:2
The first Enlisted Pilot, Vernon L. Burge, earned his wings in the old Signal Corps in 1912. Prior to World War 11, 282 enlisted pilots served in the Signal Corps, then in the Army Air Service and later in the Army Air Corps as rated pilots. Many flew the Air Mail during the early 1930s of the Roosevelt Administration.

2002 Ron Paul 77:3
With the approach of WWII, aircraft manufacturers were producing aircraft faster than the Air Corps could fill with pilots. To qualify for Flight Training, a cadet was required to have two years of college. To fill this shortage of pilots, Congress enacted legislation in 1941 authorizing enlisted men to participate in aerial flight.

2002 Ron Paul 77:4
To qualify for Pilot Training, the enlisted men had to meet several stringent requirements. They had to be enlisted in the regular Army, not drafted, possess a high-school diploma, pass a rigid physical exam, and sign a contract with the Army avowing that upon completion of Flight Training, they would continue serving in the Army Air Corps as Staff Sergeant Pilots for three years, as Technical Sergeant Pilots for three years, as Master Sergeants for three years, and end the contract as Warrant Officer Pilots.

2002 Ron Paul 77:5
The Enlisted Pilots (aviation students) attended the same ground schools, same flying schools, had the same flight instructors, same training airplanes, and successfully completed the same curriculum as the Aviation Cadets.

2002 Ron Paul 77:6
Almost 2,500 enlisted men graduated as Enlisted Pilots from Ellington, Kelly, Luke, Mather, Columbus, Dothan, Lubbock, Moody, Roswell, Spencer, Turner, Victorville, Williams, Craig and Stockton Air Bases in Classes 42–C through 42–J, the last class of Enlisted Pilots.

2002 Ron Paul 77:7
Upon graduation, and ordered to participate in Aerial Flight by General “Hap” Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, these pilots flew Douglas A–20s, Curtis P–36s and P–40s, Lockheed P–38s, North American P–64s, Douglas C– 47s, C–48s, C–49s, C–53s. They flew many of these aircraft in combat as Staff Sergeant Pilots. Later, as officers, they flew all of the aircraft in the Air Force inventory during and after WWII.

2002 Ron Paul 77:8
The Flight Training of Aviation Students Program was discontinued in November 1942, with enlisted men graduating as Flight Officers in following classes.

2002 Ron Paul 77:9
Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound, completed his flight training as an enlisted man but graduated as a Flight Officer in December 1942. Bob Hoover, the world renowned military and civilian acrobatic pilot was an Enlisted Pilot. Walter H. Beech served as an Enlisted Pilot in 1919 and later founded the Beech Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas.

2002 Ron Paul 77:10
The Air Force honors the third Enlisted Pilot, William C. Ocker, for pioneering instrument flying by naming the Instrument Flight Center at Randolph AFB in his memory.

2002 Ron Paul 77:11
Captain Claire Chennault organized a flight demonstration team at Maxwell Air Field in 1932, called the “Men on the Flying Trapeze” (the forerunner of the Thunderbirds), which at one time included two Enlisted Pilots, Sergeant William C. McDonald and Sergeant John H. Williamson. Staff Sergeant Ray Clinton flew solo stunt and backup for the team.

2002 Ron Paul 77:12
The Enlisted Pilots’ accomplishments are many and their legend is a long one of dedication and patriotism. Seventeen became Fighter Pilot Aces and thirteen became General Officers. They pioneered many air routes throughout the world. After release from active duty, they became airline pilots, airline union heads, corporate executives, bank presidents, teachers, doctors, manufacturers of racing cars, corporate aviation department heads, and much, much more.

2002 Ron Paul 77:13
Of the almost 3,000 American Enlisted Pilots from 1912 through 1942, approximately 600 remain. They are a terminal organization — most of them are in their early eighties.

2002 Ron Paul 77:14
According to retired USAF General Edwin F. Wenglar, chairman of the Grand Muster Reunion, 75 to 100 of these grand Airmen will be able to attend their reunion, which could very well be the last gathering of the finest and most magnificent aviators in the annals of aviation history.

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