“Old and Bold” Pilots a Pensacola Tradition

From the Pensacola News Journal:

There is an old saying in aviation attributed to E. Hamilton Lee, who started flying in 1916 logging time as an air mail and airline pilot: “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.”

The flight instructors at Pensacola Naval Air Station during the two decades preceding World War II — most of them lieutenants in their 20s — would have scratched their heads if that statement had been made during their time. Flying in that era required a degree of boldness. And among the flight students arriving in the Cradle of Naval Aviation were a handful of men whose gray hair and weathered faces, the result of years spent on warships at sea, certainly categorized them as old.

The presence of these officers in Pensacola was the result of an Act of Congress passed in June 1926, which mandated that only naval aviators could command air stations, aviation training schools and tactical aircraft squadrons. It also stated that all aircraft carriers and seaplane tenders be commanded by naval aviators or naval aviation observers. The latter designation was for a flying officer not qualified to actually take the controls of an aircraft, but proficient in areas like navigation, gunnery and bombing, radio communication and aerial spotting.

Read the whole thing here.

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One comment

  1. swampie · · Reply

    Reading this makes me sad. *sigh* So many traditions being trampled on.

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