In 1912, when the United States opened an aviation school at the newly established Fort William McKinley in the Philippines, only one officer volunteered for pilot training. A corporal, recognizing his opportunity, stepped forward, becoming the first enlisted man in the history of United States military aviation to train as a pilot. Over the next thirty years, three thousand enlisted men would follow his lead. These menmess cooks, mechanics, and civilian pilots among themenabled the military to bring the number of pilots in its ranks up to combat strength. They Also Flew traces the history and achievements of enlisted pilots from their earliest days in flight through 1942. Regarded by the military as lacking the education or intelligence to fly, these "sergeant pilots" struggled to earn their wings in a military organization that traditionally reserved this position for commissioned officers. Lee Arbon details the contributions of these men to United States military aviation, recognizing the 17 "aces", the more than 155 men killed in action, and the 11 who were promoted to the rank of general. Presenting the recollections of fellow sergeant pilots as well as the author's own experiences in the cockpit, They Also Flew records the personal sagas of men determined to serve their country in the air.
Lee Arbon flew combat missions in World War II as a sergeant pilot in the Mediterranean and was later commissioned in the field. He retired from the military as a major and as a B-47 Aircraft Commander in the Strategic Air Command. He is the author numerous articles based on more than a decade of research into the history of enlisted pilots.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 Preface Chapter 4 Acknowledgements Chapter 5 Prologue Chapter 6 1. America's First Enlisted Pilot (1907-1912) Chapter 7 2. The Philippine Tour of Duty (1912-1914) Chapter 8 3. North Island (1915-1916) Chapter 9 4. Army Aviation Gets Involved (1916-1917) Chapter 10 5. World War I Enlisted Pilots (1917-1918) Chapter 11 6. After the Great War (1919-1923) Chapter 12 7. The Sergeants Return to Flying School (1924-1933) Chapter 13 8. A Different Breed of Cat (1931-1935) Chapter 14 9. In Search of a Niche (1935-1940) Chapter 15 10. The Approaching War (1939-1941) Chapter 16 11. The Sergeant Pilots Join the Battles (1942) Chapter 17 Epilogue Chapter 18 Appendixes Chapter 19 Abbreviations Chapter 20 Notes Chapter 21 Bibliography