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United States Flying Corps

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UNITED STATES FLYING CORPS. While the United States Marines are the oldest branch (see MARINES, UNITED STATES) of our fighting forces, the United States Flying Corps is our youngest arm. Although the Wright brothers had made successful long distance flights as early as 1905, and France, England and Germany quickly saw the merits of a prac tical flying machine from the military point of view, the United States was reluctant to expend much time or money on the exploitation of such a new offensive and defensive weapon. And, when war was declared by the United States against Germany, 6 April 1917, in spite of the fact that for over two years the most ter rific battles the world ever witnessed were be ing fought in Europe, and the use of airplanes found a prominent part in the murderous activ ities, this country's military equipment was without any branch of aviation or practical machines. Even the training powers stood handicapped with but °300 training planes, all of inferior types," the government tells us. But °deliveries of improved models were be gun') in June 1917, and by 11 Nov. 1918 (date of armistice) °over 5,800 had been produced, in cluding 1,600 of a type which was temporarily abandoned on account of unsatisfactory engines? The production and opera tion of military aircraft, when the war started, was under °the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps," created on 18 July 1914. In May 1917 an ((Aircraft Production Board was appointed by the Council of National Defense,)) and in the following October, Congress passed an act creating the °Aircraft Board" in an advisory capacity to the signal corps and the navy. The aviation section of the signal corps was split into two distinct departments in April 1918, with John D. Ryan as head of aircraft produc tion and Brig.-Gen. W. L. Kenly as head of military aeronautics. The Overman bill (which authorized the President to reform and control in matters of aviation) was passed 20 May 1918, and entirely separate bureaus were formed for the production of aircraft and for military aeronautics, both divorced from the Signal Corps. In August the arrangement was again altered so that the air service came under the control of John D. Ryan as Second Assistant Secretary of War, thus bringing the adminis tration of aviation personnel and equipment un der a single head. This matter of fighting, or even reconnoitering, in the atmospheric medium was, therefore, in the nature of an experiment in the United States.

Training of the outbreak of war there were in the United States two fields in which to teach military aviation — San Diego and Mineola. In another six weeks three others were adopted, °cleared, equipped and made ready for flying," and before the year was passed there were more than a score of avia tion fields distributed over all sections of the country in active operation. They have been named in honor of flyers who have been killed in accidents. Thus we have Call Field, Wichita Falls, Tex., named after First Lieutenant L. H. Call, who was killed in an aviation accident, 8 July 1913, at Texas City, Tex.; Chandler Field, Essington, Pa., named after Second Lieu tenant Rex Chandler, who was drowned (1913) under his hydro-airplane in San Diego Bay; Ellington Field, Houston, Tex., named after Second Lieutenant E. L. Ellington, who was killed (1913) in an airplane accident at San Diego, Cal.; Gerstner Field, Lake Charles, La.,

named after Second Lieutenant F. J. Gerstner, who was drowned (1914) at San Diego; Hazel hurst Field, Mineola, L. I. named in honor of Second Lieutenant L. W. Haze'burst, who was killed (1912) by the fall of his airplane at College Park, Md.; Kelly Field, San Antonio, Tex., named in honor of Second Lieutenant G. E. M. Kelly, who was killed (1911) by an airplane accident at San Antonio, Tex.; Love Field, Dallas, Tex., named after First Lieu tenant Moss L. Love, who was killed in an airplane accident (1913) at San Diego; Park Field, Memphis, Tenn., named in honor of First Lieutenant Joseph D. Park, who was killed (1912) in an airplane accident near San Diego; Post Field, Fort Sill, Okla., named in honor of Second Lieutenant Henry B. Post, who was killed (1914) at San Diego in at tempting to make an altitude record; Rich Field, Waco, Tex., named in honor of Lieuten ant Perry C. Rich, who was killed (1913) by falling into Manila Bay; Rockwell Field, San Diego, Cal., named in honor of Second Lieu tenant Lewis G. Rockwell, who was killed (1912) at College Park, Md.; Selfridge Field, Mount Clemens, Mich., named in honor of First Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, who was killed (1908) while flying at Fort Meyer, Va., as a passenger with Orville Wright, the airplane in ventor; Camp Taliaferro, Fort Worth, Tex., named in honor of First Lieutenant Walter R. Taliaferro, who was killed (1915) at San Diego; Scott Field, Belleville, Ill., named in honor of Corporal Scott, who was killed (1912) at Col lege Park, Md., while flying as a passenger. This speedy construction of training fields out stripped the equipment output needed for train ing, which did not catch up to requirements till the end of 1917, by which time great improve ments had been made in training types. (For airplane technique see AEROPLANE). About 17,000 cadets were graduated from ground schools; 8,602 reserve military aviators were graduated from elementary training schools and 4,028 aviators completed the advanced training course. Lacking the machines for specialized advanced practical training the finished course for stu dents was accomplished by sending them to France to finish the course before going into action. The insufficiency of mechanics skilled in the knowledge of airplanes and motors neces sitated the establishment of training schools which produced over 14,000 graduated me chanics. The consequence of the intense work of the organization was that when hostilities ceased (11 Nov. 1918) there were 6,528 men training as aviators in the United States con sisting of 22 per cent students in ground schools, 37 per cent in elementary schools and 41 per cent in advanced training schools. Avia tor mechanics in training numbered 2,154. The number of fliers, including pilots and observers, who were trained abroad, the government in forms us, up to 6 Nov. 1918 was approximately 2,300. On 11 Nov. there was the extraordinary total strength in the air service of slightly over 190,000 officers and men, a body of men greater than the United States army at the beginning of the year. These figures constitute slightly over 5 per cent of the total strength of the army, a growth from 65 officers and 1,120 men on America's entrance into the war.

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