The Aviation Cadet Programs: 1917-1965

AAC Cadets

US Army Air Corps Aviation Cadets Class #95 (1943) Santa Ana, CA

In war and peace, aviation cadets served their nation nobly, enthusiastically and with honor. Although the various aviation cadet programs varied greatly in size and scope over the roughly forty-eight years of their existence, each major effort came when time was short, facilities limited and combat imminent. Each one, produced the required number of trained personnel to meet the country’s needs, sometimes as if by magic. Far more important, the successive classes of aviation cadets provided not only combat heroes but astute leaders for the future. In the crucial period from 1935 to 1975, a very large percentage of Air Force general officers began their careers as aviation cadets. With the gradual reduction in force size and the introduction of the Air Force Academy, the high percentage of former aviation cadets flag officers inevitably declined, but their effect is still felt in strategy, tactics and tradition.

No matter the time period, all of the aviation cadet programs had some essential characteristics in common. First and almost certainly the most important, they attracted people who really wanted to fly and were hungry for an upward career path. For a many of the volunteers, becoming an aviation cadet was not an opportunity for personal success—it was the opportunity. Second, the aviation cadet programs were frequently done in concert with an able sector of the civilian flying population. Third, most of those who participated in the programs vastly enjoyed the experience, despite the danger, discomfort and hard work that was implicit in it.

One curious aspect of the various programs was the uniform manner in which the volunteers responded. No matter the era, nor where they were located, the cadets reacted in similar ways. They generally disliked the academics, drill, rations, quarters and the hazing of underclassmen, but these feelings were more than offset by the intense camaraderie felt on the flight line. Bursting with health and energy, they looked forward to the weekends when they literally embraced the local communities. There the young ladies had high regard for them as the subsequent thousands of marriages and children proved. But more than any other factor, they liked the aviation cadet program because they loved flying and the opportunities it offered them to serve the nation—and themselves.

The Early Days: Finding the Way

Despite the fact that aerial warfare had progressed rapidly in Europe from the outbreak of “the Great War,” the inherent conservatism and tight budgets of the U.S. Army kept its air component to a minimum. Much was learned from the valiant if unsuccessful efforts of the 1st Aero Squadron in the 1916 Mexican Punitive Expedition, and the Congress at last authorized more than $13 million to the Air Service in August of that year. Yet when Congress declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, the Army had three flying training schools, about 125 aircraft, none suitable for combat, and 96 rated officers.

On May 26, 1917, France’s Premier Alexandre Ribot, aware of America’s vast production potential if not of its aerial impotence, called for an American flying corps of 5,000 aircraft, 4,000 pilots and 50,000 mechanics to be placed in France by 1918.

Thus challenged by a valiant ally, President Woodrow Wilson two months later signed into law the largest Congressional appropriation in history–$640 million for aeronautics. This began a huge production effort and the creation of the training programs the vast new “flying corps” would require.

The Air Service’s first pilot and future Chief of the Air Corps, Benjamin D. Foulois, went to Canada with a group to examine the flying training system already in place at universities there. These, especially the School of Military Aeronautics (SMA) at the University of Toronto, were used as models for the Air Service to follow. Major Howard Bingham was tasked to create a similar American system and by 21 May 1917, SMAs were opened at the Universities of California, Cornell, Illinois, Ohio State, Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Less than two months later, similar programs began at Princeton University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bingham even adopted the Canadian term “flying cadets” for the pilot candidates, who had to be under 25 years of age, have two years of college and be “athletic, honest and reliable.”
The response was overwhelming. Almost 40,000 applied for the program, with 22,500 passing the very tough physical examination that became an enduring characteristic of the aviation cadet programs.

The Canadian system called for an initial eight weeks of ground training followed by six to eight weeks of flight instruction in a primary training school. Overtime, the instruction at American SMA’s became more sophisticated, and grew eventually to twenty weeks duration. Emphasis was placed on military training, as well as on aerodynamics, aircraft rigging and maintenance, engines, gunnery operation and even the still developing theories on combat tactics.

A simultaneous effort was made to create flying schools, with twenty-four more built, most in weather-friendly areas. The flying cadets received from 40 to 50 hours in aircraft such as the Curtiss JN-4 or Standard J-1. Initially, flying training was taught in stages but by 1918, the American schools followed the methods established by Major Robert Smith-Barry at the Royal Flying Corps School of Special Flying in Gosport, England.

Smith-Barry’s instructors used a one-way speaking tube connected to the student pilot’s ears (the “Gosport.) The low-time instructor pilots were often ill-trained themselves, and thus understandably nervous about their job. The combination of one-way communication and instructor apprehension spawned a sinister side effect that persisted for years, bullying students while instructing them.

Those who survived the training (the accident rate was high) and passed their pilot qualifications test received commissions as second lieutenants and were rated as either a Reserve Military Aviator or Junior Military Aviator.

With their new wings, the pilots then received an additional forty hours of specialized training to qualify for pursuit, bombardment or observation work. The ace syndrome was already widespread, and most pilots sought assignment to pursuit squadrons.

It had been planned from the start to give advanced training in France and in July, 1917, a decision was made to begin pilot training in Great Britain, France and Italy. Ultimately, the American and foreign schools graduated about 8,700 and 1,600 students, respectively. Foreign students, especially Canadians, were also trained in American schools.

The Inter-war Years: Lean Times but Stellar Products

The growth spurt of the U.S. Army Air Service from April 1917 to November 1918 was amazing. Although promises to “darken the skies with aircraft” were not fulfilled, the Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, fought for seven months at the front. At war’s end, there were 740 American aircraft at the front. Had the war lasted another year, the Army Air Service would have deployed thousands of planes, many of indigenous design.

The November 11, 1918 Armistice set in train a series of reductions in funding, personnel and aircraft. The Air Service bottomed out from 1923 to 1926 with 880 officers, 8,000 enlisted. The numbers would improve only marginally until World War II became incontrovertibly imminent.  A great number of reserve officers were initially available, peaking at about 7,000 in 1926, but declining to 1,000 by 1938. The decline stemmed from the high fatal accident rate and resignations.

To offset the losses, only a small aviation cadet program was required. By 1922, the only training bases were Brooks Field (primary) and Kelly Field (advanced.).Brooks was supplemented from 1927 to 1931 by March Field.  A new era began when Randolph Field opened on June 20, 1930. This beautiful base, the fabled “West Point of the Air” consolidated training efforts. Brooks, Kelly and Randolph collectively became the Air Corps Training Center.

As there were many applicants, all eager to fly, the program standards for the flying cadets were extraordinarily rigorous from the entrance exams to the flight line. An estimated 90% of applicants failed the physical or the entrance exams. Although the daily schedule varied over the years, it was generally intense from Reveille at 5:45 a.m till lights out at 10:00 p.m. Flying, academics, physical training and drill alternated in a relentless sequence, and underclassmen often were subjected to the officially prohibited hazing. The average student soloed in ten hours, but was continuously monitored by instructors for any failure in technique or discipline. Wash-outs were frequent, for either a perceived lack of flying ability or a failure to meet military standards. It was peculiar to this era that students were counseled not to be ashamed about washing out—the standards were so high, that only the most gifted could be expected to meet them. In later years, washing out almost always imparted a sense of failure.

Funds were so limited that graduating classes were often fewer than 200, and prior to 1939, never more than 246. In the dark period from 1922 to 1931, an average of only 139 pilots per year graduated. Between 1919 and 1926, some 1,494 flying cadets entered primary flying school, but only 415 graduated. Charles Lindbergh, arguably the most famous flying cadet graduate, recalls that of his 1925 class of 107, only 17 made the grade. Things did not improve with time. Some 4,640 students entered training between 1932 and 1939 and of these slightly more than fifty percent washed out. And all too often a newly graduated 2nd Lieutenant pilot would be immediately placed in the reserves without ever seeing active duty.

The interwar years saw changes in equipment from World War I surplus Jennies, S.E.5as and de Havilland DH-4s to specialized trainers such as the Consolidated PT-1 and PT-3. Modern training aircraft such as the Seversky BT-8 (notorious for ground-looping) and the demanding but still tractable North American BT-9 came in the mid-1930s. When war loomed, a whole host of new trainers became available, ranging from the classic Stearman PT-17 through the Vultee BT-13 and the dean of all war-time trainers, the North American AT-6.

Despite the rigorous training, the rewards for these inter-war aviation cadets were great—a chance to fly and by 1939, with the nation still locked in a depression, a very welcome regular monthly pay of $127.50. The rewards were greater for the Air Corps, for this era’s flying cadet system produced such luminaries as James Doolittle, Hugh Elmendorf, Muir Fairchild, Harold Lee George, Barney Giles, Benjamin Giles, Frank Hunter, Clarence Irvine, George Kenney, Curtis LeMay,  John “Killer” Kane, Neal Kearby, Archie J. Old,  Thomas Power, Elwood Quesada, Edward Rawlings, Ennis Whitehead and K.B. Wolfe. There were many more at every level, all of vital importance to the service.

And although the inter-war training program was small, it kept the aviation cadet tradition alive, ready for a transition to the coming unprecedented requirements.

World War II: Flying Cadets become Aviation Cadets

Despite the fact that war had been raging in China and Spain since 1937 and notwithstanding Germany’s threats, the United States remained resolutely frugal, unwilling to budget for an adequate air force. In 1939, the U.S. Army Air Corps had 2,722 officers on active duty, with 23, 779 enlisted personnel. But change would come rapidly, with the forecast size of the Air Corps being raised to 24 groups on 1 July 1939. This called for annual pilot training classes of 1,200—six times the average size of past classes. On 31 March, 1941, the goal grew to 84 groups, 30,000 pilots per year and 100 training bases, numbers clearly beyond the capacity of the Air Corps to handle. Complicating the task was the fact that to graduate 30,000 pilots, you had to enter 60,000 into training, and to get 60,000 candidates, you had to have 300,000 applicants.

On 3 June 1941, the Army Aviation Cadet Act created the grade of “aviation cadet” instead of “flying cadet.” War was becoming every more imminent. When the seminal and uncannily accurate document AWPD/1 was accepted in August, 1941, the number of pilots required per year was estimated to be 85,236. Along with this vast number of pilots, there were complementary requirements for navigators, bombardiers, gunners, radio operators, mechanics and all the other skills necessary for a fighting air force.  The number of applications now required to enter the system grew to several million.

It was immediately apparent that aviation cadet qualifications must be lowered to have a sufficient number enter training, and in the years to come, these qualifications would be adjusted according to the perceived need of the service. Among the first restrictions to go was the requirement for college experience, opening the field to hundreds of thousands of candidates who would otherwise have been excluded.

Three general classes of aviation cadets were sought. They were “aviation cadet (pilot and bombardier), aviation cadet (navigator, non-pilot, flying) and aviation cadet (ground duty, as meteorologist and engineer.)”

The size of the programs grew steadily to staggering numbers. When war began in December, 1941, there were 16,733 cadets in flying training. One year later this had grown to 89,973, peaking at 109,000 two years later. By 1944, the number declined to 38, 796—and washed out cadets had to worry about going to the infantry.

Aviation Cadet Examining Boards around the country gave candidates a three part classification test in addition to the rigorous physical exam. These were intended to determine whether the candidate would be best suited as pilot, navigator or bombardier. In lieu of the earlier education tests, the new test was designed to measure judgment, mathematical skills, mechanical abiity comprehension, and leadership qualities. Another test measured reflexes, eye-hand coordination, the ability to perform under pressure and visual acuity. An interview with a trained psychologist comprised the third part.

Scores on the three tests were aggregated on a nine-point scale—the famous (or infamous) “stanine” (for “standard nine”) score. Most of the volunteers wanted to be pilots, and many were dissatisfied if their test scores resulted in assignment as a navigator or bombardier. Ironically, initially, the qualifying stanine score for pilot training was “1” but for navigator training it was “5.”  The stanine, like almost all of the other requirements, was changed over time to suit the needs of the service.

The Air Corps Chief, Major General Henry H “Hap” Arnold foresaw the direction if not the extent of the new pilot requirements and solicited aid from already established civilian flying schools. The initial group of nine contract primary flight training schools increased to fifty-six by 1943.

The contractors were paid per student, supplied Army aircraft, flying equipment and a cadre of supervisory officers, and were then frequently inspected. They had to supply “adequate” facilities (the degree of “adequacy” was often challenged by cadets freezing or sweating in the barracks.) A typical school with a three-hundred student class size would have 278 civilian personnel, with 128 flying instructors. They would be supported by a 56-man military component, with a major commanding. Similar arrangements were made on a smaller scale to train technical personnel. Pan American Airways aided initially in training navigators, but in time Air Corps schools were provided for non-pilot rated officers.

General Arnold also developed the College Training Program to help qualify potential aircrew members. In being from March 1943 to June 1944, it examined candidates at one of twelve Army basic traing centers. Those that passed were enrolled at one of 153 colleges affiliated with the program, with the top twenty percent being tested immediately to determine which aviation cadet program they would enter. Almost 100,000 men entered aviation cadets through the CTP. An important aspect of the CTP program was the inclusion of six historically black colleges to offer programs to African-Americans. Tuskegee Institute was the most famous of these, and the achievements of its graduates are well known. A total of 926 of the 2,422 African-Americans who entered preflight training received their wings and commissions.

The aviation cadet program in World War II was an overwhelming success. In the short term, it produced the men needed for both air crew and ground duties in a United States Army Air Force that peaked at more than 2,100,000 personnel and 70,000 aircraft. Along with the xxxxxxx pilots, the aviation cadet program graduated almost 100,000 navigators, bombardiers and observers. Another valuable 2,576 graduated as enlisted pilots.

Many of the great aces were former aviation cadets, icluding the top ten: Richard Bong, Francis “Gabby “Gabreski, Gerald Johnson, Robert Johnson, Neal Kearby, Charles McDonald, Thomas McGuire, George Preddy, John C. Meyer, and David Schilling.

Perhaps more telling of both their heroism and their preponderance in combat, aviation cadets received twenty-eight of the thirty-eight Medals of Honor awarded to USAAF participants in World War Two. (note to the editor: Just for the record, these were: Addison Baker, Bong, Horace Carswell, Ralph Cheli, Doolittle, Robert Femoyer, Donald Gott, Pierpont Hamilton, James Howard, John Jerstad, John Kane, Kearby, David Kingsley, Raymond Knight, William Lawley, Darrell Linsdsey, Jack Mathis, McGuire, William Metzger, Edward Michael, John Morgan, Harl Pease, Donald Pucket, William Shomo, Walter Truemper, Kenneth Walker, Raymond Wilkins, Jay Zeamer.) Less heroic, perhaps, but extremely important, aviation cadets also served with equal skill and devotion in almost every one of the non-flying disciplines that were necessary to support flight operations.

But it was in the long term that the World War II aviation cadet program had its greatest effect. For the next twenty to thirty years, the World War II aviation cadets would mature into the great leaders their country required to meet the challenges of the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and beyond.

The Korean War: A Déjà Vu Challenge

America’s massive post-war demobilization was abetted by federal budgets that constrained the new United States Air Force to levels far less than it deemed necessary for safety. With a massive number of rated officers on hand, aviation cadet training was closed down until December 1946, when it was opened on a very limited basis to unmarried enlisted men with at least two years of service remaining. Standards were high, with intensive testing and a required stanine rating of 7. The first 83 aviation cadets entered flying training at Randolph Field (then the only basic training base) in March, 1947. Three months later, aviation cadet training was opened to civilians with at least two years of college.

The new United States Air Force had set a goal of 70 wings as the minimum force necessary to defend the country, but a tight federal budget reduced this to 48 wings. An annual pilot quota of 3,000 was established, requiring 4,800 candidates. Three bases—Goodfellow, Perrin and Waco (later James Connally) were opened for basic pilot training, with Las Vegas (later Nellis) and Enid (later Vance) opened for advanced. The requirement navigators, bombardiers and radar observers was also recognized by the establishment of the Aerial Observer Bombardier program, a clumsy title. Initially only rated officers were admitted, but the AOB program was opened to aviation cadets in 1949, with the same standards as those required by pilots. A navigation school was set up at Ellington AFB for cadets and officers without previous aircrew training. Previously rated officers were sent to Mather Air Force Base.

The Cold War got hotter and in June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. A goal of 95 wings was set for the Air Force, and this meant another massive explosion of pilot training. Air Training Command (ATC) knew that it had to have 10,000 candidates to meet its new goal of 7,200 pilots per year, based on an expected 29 percent attrition rate. Unfortunately, recruitment was low and the attrition ran at more than 50 percent, so that only 2, 119 pilots were graduate in FY 1951. ATC expanded, but recognized that the only solution was to repeat World War II’s success by opening nine contract pilot flying schools between 1950 and 1953.

During those three years, conditions for entry were eased, and the reintroduced stanine test score requirement was lowered. Airmen who had served for 18 months no longer needed two years of college, although civilian applicants did. The minimum age for applicants was lowered to 19, and the stanine was dropped from 7 to 5 to 3. By 1953, the requirement of 7,200 pilot graduates was almost met.

In 1952 a “revitalized” program was introduced for the class of 53-H, partly in the hope of reducing the wash-out rate below its then current 34-percent level. Preflight training at Lackland AFB was lengthened to twelve weeks, permitting flying training bases to concentrate on flight activities. A light plane screening program, using inexpensive aircraft such as the Piper Cub, was introduce to try to determine who might wash out early-on. A new 18-week primary training used the North American T-6 and T-28 was followed by a 16-week training program that used the T-28 and North American TB-25 for conventional training and the T-33 for potential jet pilots. (The T-28 went through a long and troubled period of engine failures.) Wings and commissions were awarded after twelve months, but the program called for an additional four months of specialized training.

AOB training went through similar adjustments, beginning in 1951 with the Single Observer Training program. It provided a common curriculum for the separate career paths of aviation cadets, non-rated officers, navigators and bombardiers coming back on duty and pilots who wanted to train as navigators. Basic training was at Ellington and Harlingen AFBs, while advanced was conducted at Ellington and Mather.

The new AOB system met Air Force requirements, and training was conducted in  Douglas TC-47, North American TB-25, Beech TC-45 and Convair T-29 aircraft.

The number of applicants for aviation cadets had increased faster than they could be brought into flying schools, and many served in enlisted ranks, unofficially noted as “pre-cadets.” At Goodfellow Air Force Base, in the summer of 1951, the enlisted “pre-cadets” worked on the flight line, wiping down each T-6 as its prop ticked to a stop after a flight.

Aviation cadets during the Korean War period led a relatively more pleasant life than their World War II counterparts. The training was just ad demanding, but the United States was becoming prosperous, and many more cadets had access to automobiles. They still had the same, earnest desire to win their wings and get into combat and many looked forward to a career in the Air Force. But the practical fact of the matter was that the war in Korea seemed certain to end soon, and if the Air Force didn’t need them, the air lines certainly did.

The Cold War and the End of the Aviation Cadets


For the very first time in history, the United States did not immediately begin a massive demobilization after a war ended. The Korean War had drawn to its grudging Armistice halt, but the Cold War persisted. It was now recognized that the Air Force had to be a permanent, in being force, not something that could be cobbled up in six months when the next emergency arose.

The Air Force had transitioned to a steadier state, and it retained many rated personnel who had been recalled to duty. As a result a decision was made to stabilize pilot training at 4,800 per year, and to give students much higher quality training. The reciprocal of this of course was to seek higher quality students by increasing the entrance requirements, in part by raising the necessary stanine score.  In 1961, the USAF required navigator cadet applicants to have at least two years of college.

The year after the end of the Korean War, the USAF decided to  made to induce more AFROTC students to enter pilot training, with a goal of having 65% of new classes being filled from AFROTC ranks. This general goal was spurred by the bomb-shell debut of the Soviet satellite Sputnik October 4, 1957 . At that moment in time, only 31% of the officers in SAC and TAC possessed college degrees. There began an immediate effort to recruit more scientists and engineers for officer training schools, and in 1961, the Chief of Staff, General LeMay stated that 95% of Air Force officers should have degrees.

Gradually, graduates from the military academies, ROTC, Officer Training School (OTS) supplanted the aviation cadets, with the last pilot training class in 1961 and the last navigator class in 1965.

The last aviation cadet in pilot training was William F. Wesson, who graduated on 11 October, 1961. Wesson had entered flight training in December 1959, as a member of Class 61-F. Forced to eject from his T-33 at Webb AFB, he broke his back and hip. Wesson fought being dismissed formedical reasons, and in June 1961, returned to Webb for training—the sole aviation cadet on the base. It was a lonely time for the only member of the specially designated Class 62-B, but Wesson persevered and won his wings and commission. Sadly, he was to lose his life in a civil aircraft accident a few years later.

The last navigator cadet to graduate was Stephen V. Harper on 3 March 1965. Harper, the very last man to be an aviation cadets, was a member of class 65-15. His wings were presented by Major General Benjamin D. Foulois, who had started the program so many years ago in Canada.

Former aviation cadets, including the author, have often called for a return of the system, maintaining that it is more egalitarian, and more productive. Unfortunately, while the former claim may be true, statistics tend to disprove the latter. Aviation cadet attrition was always significantly higher than that of student officers, and very much higher than that of academy graduates. With the decline in total pilot requirements, a return of an aviation cadet program is simply not feasible

80 responses to “The Aviation Cadet Programs: 1917-1965

  1. Excellent article on a pilot training program that we will never see again. Both my dad and uncle were aviation cadets in the early 1950s. As stated in your piece, those who really wanted to fly became cadets. My uncle wanted to fly since he was a kid, but it wasn’t until the Korean War started that he got his opportunity. Since he had the required two years of college, he applied to the Aviation Cadet program with the USAF. But like a lot of his contemporaries, he also received his draft notice. So while waiting for a slot in a pilot training class, the deadline for induction drew near, so he had to enlist as a private in the Air Force. But he eventually got into Class 52-F and enjoyed his days as a cadet. Even though his military training (drills, marching, etc.)was something the student officers didn’t have to endure, he got to mingle with them on the flight line. It would be nice to see the program revised, but like you said, it’s not feasible.

  2. Thak Jim; Class 52H meant that he would have been an upperclassman to me, in 52H! The student officers were almost uniformly friendly to the cadets, but occasionally there would be one who pulled his rank. It was a great adventure, and there is a great Museum dedicated to aviation cadets.

  3. Great to see someone remembers us. I was class 58H and have great memories of Aviation Cadets. try MY blog at Not all are Aviation cadet stories, but several are.
    Like your description of a program which made a difference in my life and the lives of many of my mates/friends. Sorry, but I’m an Australian wetback and you’d have to read some of my stuff to understand.

    • G’day there mate! Thanks for your comments; class of 58 H, that means this December it will be 53 years since you graduated!!!!! Lots of water under the bridge since then.
      I think there should be sometype of aviation cadet program reinstated–but that will probably never happen.
      All best wishes


  4. Darrell Kirkendall

    I enjoyed the well developed article about the Cadet Program. I am now 82 years old. I was an enlisted man (Scott Field, US Air Corps) at age 18 and had been accepted into the Cadet program, to start pilot training in October, 1947. My orders were cancelled because a new Public Law was passed stating that no new officers would be commissioned under the age of 21. I would have finished flight training shortly after turning 20 years old. I was advised to wait another year. “Another year” to a teenager was half a lifetime, so I declined, served out my 3 year enlistment as an enlisted man, and went to college as a civilian in 1949.

    To this day I think about “what if” I had quietly ignored my cancelled orders and just showed up at Randolph on October 1, 1947. My suspicion is that there were other guys already in training that would finish prior to reaching age 21, and I think I might have been “red circled” to allow me to take the flight training, but just defer getting a commission for a few months. That would have been a win-win for me and the USAF, I think. (I had a stanine score of 9 in all three categories on the tests.) I wonder if anyone else alive ran into the same disappointment. Any comments? I envy everyone of you who “made it”!!!

    Darrell Kirkendall
    Chapel Hill, NC

    • Thanks Darrell, for your good, cogent remarks. We were lucky that had such a program. There will probably never be one like it again, but it was a way for people who were hungry to fly to get in the air. I am sorry that it didn’t work out exactly as you might have wished. The ways of the military are always strange. But it sounds like you had a great career anyway! Best regards Walt

  5. Charles L. Harrington

    I started cadet preflight in Feb 1954 at Lackland AFB and was in Foxtrot Squadron. In those days there was a parade every Saturday morning and we were graded. If your squadron won the parade, you got Sunday off and could leave base. When we became upper class preflight cadets we decided to try to win a parade. We worked very hard at marching and out of the six parades we were in as upperclass cadets, we won five and tied for first in the sixth.

    When Hoyt Vandenburg died and they needed a squadron of cadets to fly to Washington and march in the funeral procession, many members of Foxtrot squadron were selected to go because we did so well in the parade contests. Memories, memories……….

    • It was a great time, Charles, and it is a shame that our leader’s cannot see a way to do this again, i.e. give those hungry to fly a chance to do it, without insisting on an Acaemy or a four year degree backgrouond. It would be better to have a corps of career pilots, dedicated to the task, and expecting to retire as a Major, than to have everybody competing to be chief of staff. Thanks for writing,


    • Randall (Randy) L. Sohn

      Interesting to see Harrington’s entry on here, must have been close date to mine. Was in 55-N, Lackland, Spence and Reese, stayed after graduation in May of 55 and instructed at Reese until 1958, then Offutt, then North Central/Republic/Northwest.

      • Nice to see a familiar name. And although you might have been disappionted, getting an instructor’s slot after graduation was a confirmation of your success as a student, and also great preparation for the future.

    • Starting in with Cadet Class 55-L at Lackland AFB, we survived underclass attrition (somehow) and became upper-class just before General Vandenburg’s funeral. The surprise barracks inspection followed by learning to ‘slow’ march on Saturday afternoon got many cadets a C-124 flight to Bolling AFB on Sunday. To see six rows of Cadets march down the 3 C-124 loading ramps was also precision and must have been a sight. Remember the German-born Cadet Col. who led our class? First triple-rated B-47 commander – I’ve told.

      • Thanks, Lee. That was quite an experience; I am sure there must be film of it . I don’t have the name of the Cadet Colonel you mention; triple rated B-47 commanders were rare to begin with, and became rarer still as the fleet expanded. A fascinating time, and we were priviliged to be able to participate!. All best wishes,

      • Lee,
        I was in 55-O at Lackland. I remember a german upperclassman who did “SS” inspections (turning over footlockers etc.) I think his name was Carl Meinig.
        Rumor was he flew ME-109s in the war.

    • Charlie,
      I was surfing the net and found your note. I entered cadets at Lackland in Feb 54. in Class 55-O I was in Delta Sqdn ( the runts). Google Class 55-O and find our website. Good pictures from Columbus, GA. Drop me a line.

  6. I enjoyed the history of aviation cadets. I was in class 51-H graduating from Craig AFB on 15Dec1951 flying F-51 Mustangs. WE immediately went to WilliamsAFB for jet transition,then to Nellis for jet gunnery. Those of us who scored well in aerial gunnery got sent to F-86 training,then to Korea in F-86’s. I was one of those lucky ones. I flew my tour of 100 missions out of Kimpo AB in 5 months from May to October of 1952. I then taught jet gunnery at Tyndall AFB,FL for 6 months and then All Weather Interception in the 86D for 18 months. My best students had been Aviation Cadets,Student Officers next and Academy Cadets last. The Academy Cadets had the worst attitudes. I needed 2 years to complete a college degree,so I left the AF in Dec.1954. Three of my classmates retired as General Officers,two Major General and one Brigadier. Not bad for a class of 56 Cadets. Most retired as Lt.Col’s and Col’s. I flew with an Air National Guard unit for ten years and continued non-flying reserve duty for a total of 28 years. After college, it was not possible to return to active service,so I pursued other opportunities. I flew for American Airlines for 25 years and then a private corp for another 12 years,retiring from flying in November 2002. I miss the flying but not all the regulation. I was lucky to get a Board promotion to Lt. Col. before I retired. I didn’t mention that I started in Cadets at Perrin AFB,TX on 16Nov.1950. Regards, W.P. Dunbar Jr.

    • You were exactly one year ahead of me in flying school, I was 52-H, started on November 19, 1951; You must have been very proficient to be upgraded from F-51s to F-86s. I agree with you on your assessment of the relative performance of aviation cadets, student officers and Academy cadets. The aviation cadets were HUNGRY to fly. Sounds like you had a great flying career, congratulations!
      All the best

  7. Thanks for your wonderful article. I would like to use some of your research to pass on to my children and grandchildren. I was in 57-F, graduating from Bryan AFB, TX, December 19, 1956. Several of us got married that very day after the graduation ceremony.

    • Dear Gary,
      You graduated five years to the day after I did, and I know how proud you were! I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and I hope it bring backs some memories. Give my best to your childern and grandchildren!


  8. Col. Boyne:

    I was a member of Class 61B. After my military days, I returned to the Univ. of Minn to complete my B.A. degree. After graduating in Mar.,1966, I took the Stanine test and began my commercial flying career with Northwest Airlines. After 34 years of dent & scratch – free flying, I retired at age 60 in June of 1999 as an IP in international navigation. (I was the F/O on the infamous “D.B. Cooper” flight on 24 Nov. 1971.)
    I vivedly remember taking the Stanine test, and especially the “light” portion of it.
    I would appreciate any info you might direct my way to secure a copy of the complete Stanine test as tendered to all commercial airline pilot applicants during the 1960’s.
    And thank you for the most informative website!

    P.S. This email need not be posted on your website. Thank you.

    • Hello Bill,

      The FAA, prior to all of the budget cuts, had large education and history departments. I suspect the information you need is in their files in Washington D.C.. The problem, of course, is to get to the correct person who willhave the time to follow up on your request. I think that the best
      course for you would be to use the Freedom of Information act to write to their Public Affairs department (available perhaps under a slightly different name at the FAA website) and request the information you wish.
      All best wishes


  9. Great article! My Dad was in cadet class 39-A, retiring in 1969. He is still kicking around in Florida, and his cadet photos are still with him. He has one of those panorama-style pictures of the group at the beginning of the training in 1938. I asked him once, what happened to all those guys… he said half were gone within a month! He later mentioned he took a navigation class from some major named LeMay!

    Later, after a 1942-43 tour in Australia with B-26s, he ran the training at Lake Charles before heading back out to Okinawa. It is stunning how the training was scaled up so quickly and effectively. Thanks again for your article.

    • I salute your father, and I’m glad he is still with us. Gen. LeMay was a great navigator–it was he who led the flight of Y1B-17s out to find the Italian liner Rex, and thus really annoy the U.S. Navy. Later, with the B-47, LeMay wanted every crewmember to be triple rated, i.e. a pilot, navigator and radar bombardier. There were simply too many airplanes in SAC for that to happen, though.
      A great man!


  10. Greetings sir, I am a former Aviation Cadet of the Philippine Air Force Flying School of Class 1995. My country produced Aviation Cadets until 1997 plus one class in 2006. Since the Philippines was a former American colony I guess our country’s air arm followed the same pattern with your pilot training. We first trained flying cadets in 1937. But in our case the Philippine Air Force Aviation Cadets had a more unpleasant end. May I know the relationship of your Aviation Cadets with the US Air Force Academy? Also the sources of pilots nowadays with your air force? Thank you sir.

    • Greetings Francis, and thanks for your interesting comments. The USAF no longer has an Aviation Cadet program, sad to say, and most of the pilot candidates come from the US Air Force Academy. I suspect that you may be able to enter flying training from ROTC or Officer’s Candidate School, but the odds are against you.

      All best wishes


      • Was told not to bother applying while an F-89J Radar Tech at Wurtsmith AFB Mich 1958. They said AFA cadets would take all Pilot slots Got out in Nov 1960 went to RCA Inst of electronics in NYC. Became Avionics Tech Rep with McDonnell /Grumman/ LTV Aerospace. All Started With AF training at Lowry AFB in 1956.

  11. I went through aviation cadet training at Spence AFB ( Moultry GA )on the T-6.Class of 52F
    Upon graduating from the T-6,to Craig AFB in Selma ALA,where i flew the P51 and got my wings.
    Than to Luke AFB in Phoenix AZ for combat training on the P51.
    Luckly for me,the Korean war was winding down and i didn’t have to go to Korea.
    The last 4.5 years of my career i flew many different single engine planes,of which the F84G was not the most dependable !!!!
    All in all,i never regretted my time flying for my country.

    • Thanks Felix. As you probably know there is going to be a reunion for 52 H- 52-G, 53-A and I believe 52-F in New Orleans on October 24-26th. If you are interested in attending, and don’ thave details, I can have them sent to you.

      You are lucky to have flown the P-51; I never had the opportunity, and always regret it.
      All the best


  12. Robert Terbet Jr.

    Thanks for the wonderful article. Brings back many fond memories. I was in Cadet class 57R . Graduated July 30th from Greenville AFB, Ms. Primary was at Stallings AB, Kinston, NC. Aircraft were the T-34,T-28 & T-33. Next Williams AFB, AZ to fly the F-86F. Then to Nellis AFB, NV to fly the F-100. Left the AF in 1966 after a tour in Viet Nam flying the F-5. Only one negative regarding the Cadet program. Read Gen Chuck Horner’s book and for some reason he went out of his way to demean pilots who were former Aviation Cadets. I can only guess that at some point in his career he was put in his place by a former Cadet who out ranked him. Very unnecessary on his part.
    Thanks again,
    Best regards,
    Robert Terbet Jr.

    • Thanks Bob, I really appreciate your comments. Sounds like you had a great, adventuresome career. I didn’t pick up on Horner’s comments but if I remember correctly he wrote that with TOm Clancy, and he might have introduced an error. I cannot imagine Horner denigrating aviation cadets, but will go back and check it out. I just finished an article on the F-5 for Air Force magazine–it is a short one and will be out next year.
      Thanks for writing!

  13. Robert Terbet Jr.

    Thanks for the reply regarding the F-5. A great plane and a pleasure to fly. Enjoyed the Air Force very much and intended to make it a career. Didn’t agree with Johnson and McNamara as to how they were fighting the war so resigned after the F-5 evaluation. Spent 30 years with American Airlines. Horner’s book was written with Tom Clancy. Too bad he added the piece about the Aviation Cadets. Look into it if you get a chance. Looking forward to seeing your F-5 article. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    Best regards,
    Bob Terbet

  14. Larry G Smith P.E.

    I stared Avaition Cadet training in September 1954, was in class 54-G19 if I remember correctly. Then went to Ellington AFB for Observer Training. Unfortunly had sever eye infection that left me without 20-20. Finished my tour in SAC at Mt. Home Idaho in the Special Weapons group. Once out of AF, I returned to New Iberia LA, worked in Oil Field till Sept 1959, went to college and graduated with a Degree in Electricl Engineering in May 1962, Am still going and still working as much as I care to. I am a PE and do consuting engineering work. This is a great site, had looked several times for info on A/C but never could find any thing. Keep it up.

    • Thanks for your nice comments and congratulations on making a great career! Sorry about your eye infection, that was a shame.
      All best wishes


    • HI Larry Smith,

      I was also in Class 55 G19. Sent to Ellington for navigator training and was stationed at Hickam Filed in Hawaii for 3 years, flying in C-124’s across the Pacific. I was 22 years old when I got my wings and commission and I thank God that I entered the cadet program. Those guys made a man out of me whether I wanted it or not. I too am a semi-retired engineer. Spent my time working in the Permian Basin in West Texas as a Petroleum Engineer.

      Bob Anthony

      • Hello Bob, and Larry too,

        Stationed at Hickam for three years–you really were fortunate. Yes, you had to turn to as an aviation cadet, and no fooling around. I feared washing out far worse than death. Glad you had a good career in the Air Force, and subsequently!
        Best regards


  15. I was in the Cadet Corps very briefly in Oct. of ’59. Lackland AFB, class 17N. Our training was for navigators, not pilots. I and several others were eliminated for various reasons, mine for physical reasons and excessive demerits. For each extra demerit one received during the course of a week, the cadet had to walk it off on a “tour ramp” on Sunday, where the word was there were more demerits handed out than at any other time. I was one of many on the tour ramp, which helped my undoing. Big deal. The word was that no matter how we did in training and after graduation, Academy graduates and those with college degrees were ahead of cadet corps grads for promotions. This may have been true. We were in two and three man rooms and many of our personal items were precisely arranged in drawers near the floor. There was an inspection every Friday morning, and in previous times, the word was that an upperclassman would come into the room and kick the drawer closed, scattering the contents shortly before the inspection. This was known as the “Tiger program,” and allegedly made better officers. Maybe. The only contact recommended between upper and lower classmen was for instruction. No fraternization. For any of several reasons, the person over me and I were at best poorly matched. I do hope that he finished the complete training and went on to receive a commission. The uperclassmen I remember were Gary Steenblock, Ben Hibbs, and the squadron commander Wiley Sherman. My assumption on the amount of eliminated cadets was that we were in bewteen two conflicts, Korea, and the very initial stages of ‘Nam,both of which were a mess. There was little need of what we were in for,so bring in several, eliminate as many as needed, and go on with those who are left over. Few if any of us knew it (I guess) but as an eliminated cadet one could elect to separate from active duty, which I did. That provision was stopped after those in our class left. I briefly considered staying in, but since our original enlistment was for two years, we would have had to start over. That and only two years of obligation limited our options. I declined, and left active duty. A couple of years later I was called into the active reserve until I left in Oct. of’ ’65. As I recall, there was no mixing with the regulars at any time,and one of our uperclassmen referredto the regulars as “clods.” Not very nice. I spent the rest of my working life in the private sector, which I prefer.

    • Thanks very much for this, Bill, which provides some insight into some of the hazards of the Aviation Cadet program. You are quite correct, the number graduated varied with the need, and I believe the Air Force preferred to fill pilot training vacancies with academy graduates, if possible. The upper-classman/lower-classman relationship was always tough;mostly I think it was for revenge for treatment the upperclassman had received when he was a lower classman. So it was passed on, generation after generation. And I think worries and frustrations added to this; I personally noted that some of the meanest upperclassmen were subsequently washed out, and they probably knew at the time that they were not doing well. All best wishes to you, and congratulations on your successful career in the private sector.


  16. In the summer of 1957 while stationed at the Brunswick Navel Air Station in Maine, I requested the opportunity to take the exam for the USAF Aviation Cadet Program as a Navigator. well I was informed that thr requirement for for available slots were filled and I was not able to be selected for the training. I felt that it was a shame since I memorized the eye chart at the base hospital. Well, at least I tried to give it the old college try.

    • I have the greatest empathy for you Jim. Many people missed out on training because of the perhaps overly severe medical requirements, but I can see the service’s point of view–with so many candidates, take only those who fit the toughest requirements. A friend of mine and I went to become Naval Air Cadets in about 1948; he sat down in the dental chair, the first thing we had on the physical, the doctor took one look and said “disqualified, malocclusion” and that was it. I passed but shortly thereafter the Naval air program went to “college graduate only” and I was dropped/

  17. I can see the reasoning behind the selection of academy grads for higher positions or faster promotions. I recall seeeing a program several years back about either West Point or the Air Force Academy. At the introduction/welcoming of new cadets to the academy, they were told the rules right away. Everyone was going to be involved in an extracurricular activity – no exceptions. If you have trouble maintaining the minimum C grade average, you will be assigned a tutor. What other colleges allow you to finish in five years, you will do here in four years. the taxpayers are providing you with a $25,000.00 per year (probably much more now) education, so if you leave, you will owe them a lot.
    I would assume that commissioning is automatic upon graduation, and I don’t recall what the term of service was.
    From the start everyone knew what was expected of them. Graduation from a service academy (including the Merchant Marine) is an accomplishment. Discipline and time management are automatic and unspoken parts of the routine. As an aftermath benfit of being an academy grad, there would be a good number of higher level positions available to those upon leaving the armed forces.

    • Your analysis of the value of academy graduates is correct, Bill, but my point is that it does not have to be an Air Force of 100% academy graduates, and that there is value in having a mixture of types to avoid conformity in thinking. It also provides opportunities for those who don’t have the connections, or the background, required for admission to the academies. Thanks for your views, however!

  18. The implication I got from one of the upperclassmen was that officers would be somewhat aloof. In a training film, the instruction was that while in uniform, an officer should not carry groceries or show affection. What that signified I have no idea. In my considerable time in the private sector, regardless of my position, I always tried to work with people rather than over them, and they knew it. They knew we were working toward a comon goal. Also, for anyone in a supervisory capacity, information travels both ways, so everyone learns. Over the last few decades, from what I have gathered, the philosophy of the service academies had changed quite a bit, to address the situations and problems encountered by officers and CEO’s. This is a wise move.

  19. You have the right idea about working with pepole, Bill, and the Air Force has largely moved to that. One big new factor, however, is the wonderful addition of women to the force. We need their brains and skills, but political correctness has placed a terrific strain on the mode of interaction–both males and females have to watch themselves so that no word or action can be misinterpreted as being politically correct. The result is a somewhat rigid, oh to polite atmosphere, far different than the raucous interactions of the old days when political correctness had not yet raised its poisonous head.

  20. Walter
    I am glad that you brought up the point of women in the Armed Forces. For far too long, many qualified women were barred from entry due to antiquated rules. I read the Wall Street Journal regularly, and the coverage of women CEO’s and financial officers shows a recognition for their abilities. They are half of the population, so why overlook them? I recall several years ago, when VMI enrolled a number of women, they were subject to considerable pressures. After a short time, they left, and there were a number of male cadets almost parading, acting like little boys who had gotten their way. I looked up the stats on both VMI and West Point and while women are there, they are still in the minority. Some patterns take a long time to change. The impressive stat here is the number of foreign students at these colleges. Several, and even some from Afghanistan.
    A slight digression on misogyny. A while back, I met a Baptist pastor. We had some interesting dialogues, and I asked him to speak for himself, not quote from scripture. One of the items I brought up was questioning why his faith did not allow women into the pulpit. I don’t recall his answer, but in speaking to some of his congregants, I found out that he referred to me as his nemesis. A similar situation occurred in Vatican 11 back in the ‘60’s. The placing of women in the pulpit was looked at and then placed on the back burner. I would assume that there are women of these faiths in the military academies now, and what a change they will experience when they enter their professions, in charge of others and the voice of authority.

  21. The thing that mystifies me most about the Muslim world, Bill, is that one half of their population, their women, are suppressed and unable to exert the brains, and energy in the way that they can in most other religions. Such a waste, and also, such a loss in a probable tempering of the bitter relations that now exist between many of the Muslim faith and the rest of the world. If I could run foreign policy, I would institute a massive Marshal style plan for the Muslim world, conditioned on the suppression of terrorism and the grant of absolutely equal rights to women.

  22. It would be unique to see such an initiative to the world of Islam, but would it be accepted? As long as those in the Middle East are willing to promote Sharia (medieval?) law, very little is going to change. Egypt might be a good example of this. For several years, their officer class was trained in the US, thereby importing values and management principles to a major player in the Islamic world. That is likely changing radically at the moment. If media reports are correct, a part of their proposed constitution is Sharia law. I wonder if the congress (DC dimwits) are doing much about this, since the US sends considerable foreign aid to Egypt.
    If you want a laugh, go to YouTube and look up the Kingston Trio singing, “The Merry Minuet.” It is dated, but some parts ring true.

  23. Bits of Sharia law are cropping up everywhere in Europe, some tolerated, some de facto. I believe the same is true of a few spots in U.S. where there is a large concentration of Muslim (especially Somali) population. But wait 20 years and if the present trend continues, we’ll have a dual law system, and if 40–Sharia law for all. It is a question of procreation and demographics using democracy to destroy itself.

  24. The AC program and the pilots it produced. I have just started reading, “Skunk Works,” and it is good. What it describes well is the blindness and territorial approach to worthwhile programs by general officers, all the while leaving the private sector and innovation by the wayside. I have been having a discussion with a person who spent their entire career in the public sector. My view is that the gov’t is inefficient and almost everything that the feds touch gets messed up. Remember the Arab oil embargo? The Carter administration said that we would be energy independent within a decade. What happened? I didn’t mean to digress. Anyway, so far I recommend, “Skunk Works.”

  25. I finished “Skunk Works” and would recommend to it anyone. What it mentions is the poor approach of some generals and their favorite programs. They care about little else. Interestingly, I recently read about the revolving door between former senators and the lobbyists. Apparently, some senators have not found work as lobbyists. Back to the Cadet Corps. I remember one of my fellow cadets studying for the interview to become the squadron commander after some of us had finished the first half of pre-flight training. Those who qualified for the position clearly deserved it. Do you know how many of those stayed in the Air Force and how they advanced in rank?

    • I don’t know the answer to your question, Bill, but I know that my own career suffered by my never doing the things that others did, i.e. choosing assignments, making sure they got in senior scdhools, etd. Their should be a law prohibiting military personnel from retiring and going to work in any capacity for any company working in the defense industry. But Congress would never pass that, because its members do exactly the same thing, moving from the Hill to K street and back. Our poor country is ruled by a handful of oligarch lawyers. It would be interesting to know the rise in net wealth of all members of Congress, including staff, and the Administration, in the past eight years of Depression. I would bet that 99.9% have tripled (or more) their net worth.

    • I was in 63-10 B 2 at James Connolly. Had a great career as a transport navigator at Travis and McChord in C-124s and C-141s flying to flyspecks. Most of my flying was over the pacific with lots of adventures. Did Vietnam in EC-47Js for 1000 hours plus in Project Phyllis Ann. Last assignment was to Germany in the Ramstein Rescue Center. Studied at night to get a degree in Computer Science…left the AF in 74 to work for Ross Perot at EDS. Made my fortune there.
      I was appointed Aviation Cadet Squadron Commander when everyone else rode motor scooters in Bermuda. Can’t remember why I didn’t but it wasn’t because I was being good. Graduated from the tour ramp as did most, if not all, of the Squadron.

      • Bruce, a great story; 1,000 hours in EC-47 is a LOT of time! Ross Perot is an old friend; sent me a case of champagne once, got to know his son pretty well. All best wishes!

  26. I left college and enlisted in the USAF as a private in 12/1950 and was at Lackland AFB as a medic when accepted for pilot training, class 53A at Spence Field in Moultrie,GA. But I was one of the one in three who washed. Couldn’t land so I guess they figured there wasn’t much sense in sending me up. But they said if they ever needed kamakazi pilots I’d be among the first they called. I’ve taken great pride in the confidence they had in me. But then, on to Waco were I was commissioned (52-27)as an R.O., now called Radar Intercept Officer, with my own private pilot.Served another three years active and six years reserve and loved every bit of it. Sorry to hear the Aviation Cadet program is no more.

    • Very interesting Ron; you probably were just a couple of months early in the system; six months later and they would have passed you with flying colors. Glad you went on to be a R.O., though!


  27. I was a member of the 61-F aviation cadet class (Bravo Squadron) and washed-out because my left eye was not 20/20 – but I ended up as a captain with a regional airline anyway and although it was their loss and my gain I have fond memories of pre-flight training school at Lackland; even after fifty-four years I still retain many of the good training habits that I received during that time.

    • Dear Dr. Joe, it certainly sounds like you turned a wash-out lemon into airline lemonade, and I salute you for that! Pre-flight at Lackland must have been fun, and I am glad the good training gave you good habits!
      All best wishes,


  28. Hugh Greenwood

    I, like the other responders really enjoyed your article on the Aviation Cadet program. As you mentioned, one of our common denominators was an intense desire to fly; mine began at about age six.. Afters I acquired 2 years of college: that summer I reported to Lowry AFB to take my qualification exam. I don’t remember how well I scored on the stanine, but of the 20-25 who took the tests, only about 5 of us qualified as AC pilots. I was to report to Lackland AFB, March 1957, as part of Class 58-P.
    Boy, did my life change the second I walked through the door of “Yellow Tower”! I had absolutely no previous military experience so Pre-Flight was quite an education. Due to bad weather in the Primary schools, our class was held over and integrated with class 59-A. This was a very diverse class, composed of foreign cadets (mainly Germans) and a few Air National Guard pilot trainees. My Primary flying was at Graham Air Base, at Marianna, Fla.As I recall, we received about 30 hours in the T-34 Mentor and 100 hours in the T-28 Trojan. At that time I thought the T-28 was a huge airplane.
    Basic was at Greenville AFB, Miss. I think we got a little over 100 hours in the T-33. Like most cadets, the program was never a “no sweat” deal, but I sure loved flying the T-Bird. We graduated 23 July, 1958 and was I a proud 2nd Lieutenant. I went on to fly the B-47, F86-L, and the RF-84F. The Aviation Cadet program may have had a few aspects that were a little “Mickey Mouse”, but it sure turned out some great pilots and leaders. It certainly made a man out of me and allowed me to live my dream of flying. Our class still holds annual class reunions and many of the foreign officers still attend.
    Thanks for the memories, Walt..

    • Thanks, Hugh, I envy you your training aircraft, I always wanted to fly the T-28 (I got a little time in the T-34 later). The Aviation Cadets were a great idea that should be re-invented today for civilian pilots. There is a coming pilot shortage, due to retirements, lack of military pilots available and the high cost of flying training. I’ve proposed a Civilian Aviation Cadet Program, where hungry young guys could learn to fly, then be part of a low-salaried pilot program with the airlines for a few years to “pay it back.”

      All best wishes


  29. Gentlemen: are any of class 50 G still out there?? I have an old tattered picture of us at Perrin in front of DC-3 if interested.

  30. G’d afternoon Walter, Coffee or a cool limeade in the patio? Things do seem a bit quiet, but I thank you for that information.

    Don Jose de La Mancha (Joseph Curry )

  31. jean Guerreau

    thank you Walter Boyne for your wonderfull talks with A.C others it was very good souvenirs for me after being in 53 B class through hondo williams and luke AFB amities to every one and good luck from FRANCE

  32. Enjoyed reading comments from others and your history of the A/C program. The flying bug bite me while learning to fly model airplanes with an uncle who was a blimp pilot in WWII
    I wanted to fly so bad that as soon as I turned 19 (the minimum age to enter the A/C program I dropped out of Jr. College and joined as a basic airman and was sent to Lackland where I was allowed to apply for the program with only a high school diploma. I passed all the tests required and was accepted but had to wait 6 months at James Connerly AFB in Waco, TX in a “Pre-Cadet” group preflighting the mobile control unit radios and cleaning it up for the day’s operation.
    I was sent back to Lackland for “Pre-Flight” officer training then to Spence AB in Moultrie ,GA in Feb of ’54 in Class 55-H. Flew 20 hours in the PA-18 and 120 hrs in the T-6G, then to Bryan AFB in Bryan, TX for 40 hrs in the T-28A and 100 hrs in the T-Bird. I got my 2nd Looie bars and wings in Feb ’55 and was sent to instructor training at Craig AFB. Selma. AL
    Spent 12 years in the ATC builing up a lot of time in T-28, T-Bird, and the Tweety Bird. Got out of ATC and flew F-102’s in Alaska and Texas and T-28D-5 with the Royal Thai Air Force. Retired at Tyndall AFB, FL with almost 6,000 hours of Single engine time (mostly T-Bird: 3500). Also the instruction and teaching got me a great job teaching in a local high school for 30 years.
    I thought the Cadet program was great and was a great experience in teaching work ethics and leadership. Enjoyed learning along with the student officer and all the MDAP students (Germans, Swedes, Belgium, French, Turks, etc.). Just never figured why the Student officers got flight pay and we cadets didn’t! All in all, it was an answer to my boyhood dreams and the greatest thing that could have happened to me.
    Again, Thanks for a great web site.

    • Thanks so much, Frank. I wish they still had a similar program, since it has reached the point that AF Academy graduates are refusing pilot slots to go into career progressions that are more likely to attain higher ranks. Can you imagine turning down a pilot training slot??? Our careers were in the same general time period (Iwas 52-H) so I think we had the best of all worlds. Sounds like you had a great career, and I salute you for it!

      All the best wishes

  33. One of the many strange aspects of my brief time in the Aviation Cadet program was a form of correcting transgressions called the “tour ramp.” I am not sure of how many of the other respondents experienced this, but it was a rather different/questionable form of correcting ills. For every demerit one received over the prescribed limit, the cadet (underclass) had to walk an hour in a rectangular formation. Sounds easy, but, one catch. On the inside of this disciplinary function were upperclassmen who could (and did) stop the underclassmen for anything they deemed incorrect, and issue a demerit. The word was that one could accumulate more demerits here than any other place. This exercise took place each Sunday PM when ones’ time could have been spent much more productively on the normally required/endless other duties. Demerits were my undoing. It’s called, “Live and learn.”

    • Bill, I took a few ramp tours, but they were just an hour’s tramping up and down the ramp with a full pack, but no harrassing “senior cadets” I can see how you’d pile up demerits in such a situation. I did have one senior cadet who had some dislike of me for some reason, who was always giving me demerits, particularly for marching out of step. He washed out early, and I was glad to see him go. Hadn’t thought about him for years, but dislike him as much now as then!
      Good luck to you!

  34. I was a Red Bird in the Class of 60 D.

  35. In case there is any interest, I have a copy of ‘The Lincoln-Aire’ Vol I – No. 2 dtd March 1941; edition in charge of Class 2-41. Interior pages are in good condition; front and back covers are tattered around the edges.
    An excerpt from page 22 ‘Food for Thought’ by Captain Wykert, ‘Tactfulness includes making those around you think they amount to something’.

  36. I was lucky to discover your wonderful website Walt.
    I was looking for names from my class of 57-O. Haven’t found any yet.
    Someone earlier was wondering about the “tiger team” concept of training prior to class 57-Q. I don’t remember it being called that but I spent a lot of time “hanging around the barracks” and “sitting in the little green chair”. I’m sure each upper class had a sadist or two. It always pi..ed them off when I’d just chuckle at their nonsense. I’d had a little over a year as a “Pre-Cadet” at Williams AFB, working on the flight line and in the Flight Safety office, and marching my share of 6 & 12s so I knew what to expect.
    Thanks for your efforts.

  37. Collectively, the services are changing, and hopefully for the better. Much more emphasis on professionalism and talent/ability. Are the requirements for entry into the Air Force any more rigid? How about the officer corps? Who can become a UAV operator?

    • Bill I wish I knew the answers to your questions; I suspect that the rules are tighter now for OCS now; being a UAV operatior, though, may be easier, given the fact that pilots are quitting befause of that duty
      All the best


  38. Hi Walt, I just found your Aviation Cadet website and love it. Thanks for what you do. We all have our stories so here goes…………
    In late 1953 while I was at N.C. State an older hometown friend who had flown B-17s over Germany in WW-2 encouraged me to investigate Air Force pilot training. Because of that one suggestion I joined Class 55-N on 14 Feb 1954 at Lackland. What’s a few trips around the old tour path! Albert Nichols and I signed in at Bartow in late April ’54 to fly the PA-18 a few hours before advancing to the T-6. A fine gentleman, Lawrence J. Orwig, was my T-6 instructor and we had a ball— except for my occasional bout with airsickness during aerobatics in the T-6 in the 98 degree heat of Florida. Mr. Orwig strongly suggested that I go to Multi school so it was off to Reese AFB and B-25s in Nov ’54. After graduation in May, 1955 I stayed at Reese as an instructor until late 1958 when the base was converted to T-33’s and no B-25 instructors were retained. A couple of years as a KC-97 copilot, a couple of years as an aircraft commander and instructor at McDill and McGuire then off to KC-135s at Robins AFB in 1964. Separated from the Air Force as a Major in 1968 to fly with the airlines in Atlanta, Ga and joined the Alabama ANG in Birmingham to initially fly the RF-84F. We soon acquired RF-4C Phantoms and I acquired a Maintenance Officer AFSC and took over the supersonic flight test program. Never saw a clean RF-4 that wouldn’t do 2.3 Mach level at 40,000 feet. Retired from the Alabama Air National Guard in 1976 as L/Col.
    Retired from airlines in 1991 as 757/767 Captain. There is an airstrip in the front yard for the Beechcraft and the Lancair Legacy (carbon fiber, big engine, retractable homebuilt) and I am enjoying excellent health at age 82. Life is good and it all came together because of a very special (now) 92 year old former B-17 pilot who is still doing well and, of course, a great Mom and Dad.
    Thanks For Listening,

  39. Arlon Hickman

    I had the privilege of going thru pre-flight for Navigators at Lackland AFB as a member of class 58-12 during the lovely months of April – July 1957. After arriving at Harlingen for Navigator training, we were informed that our contract to spend four years on active duty after the completion of training was being changed and that we would have to spend six years on active duty. In righteous indignation I resigned. Too bad, I believe I would have enjoyed a career in the USAF> I came upon this website in an effort to locate my ole roommate: Dale Everson. Dale completed the Navigator training, got his commission, and went to Biloxi for training in B-47’s.

  40. Arlon Hickman

    I have enjoyed reading the history of the Aviation Cadet Program and all the posts. Thanks for all the work you put into it.

    I believe I was the only college graduate in class 58-12. I ended up at Eglin AFB during the exciting days of proving the effectiveness of the Sidewinder missile, the Gatlin gun development and hi-speed hi-altitude photography. It was a fun time. I would be interested in hearing from anyone from class 58-12.
    Arlon Hickman

  41. I was in Aviation Cadet Class 61-02, the last class to attend Pre-Flight Training at Lackland AFB. After graduation our class was transferred to Harlingen AFB to complete navigation training. After commissioning I went to Mather AFB for advance training and then to Donaldson AFB, SC to the 63rd TCW, MATS. I served for 10 years and then left the Air Force to get my degree. I finished my career working for the US Navy at Charleston Naval Supply Center and Space and Warfare Center.

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