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September 5, 2022 29 min

Today’s show is a conversation with Robert Arnold, the grandson of Hap Arnold – the Father of the air force. Arnold urged an independent air arm which he lived to see authorized in 1947 – he started flying with the Signal Crops in what could be described as a ‘wild west’ era in aviation - setting altitude records, and in WWI was the first aerial observer to report his observations using Radio. 

In WWII, he directed air activities for the nation's global war against Germany and Japan. Under him the air arm grew from 22,000 officers and men with 3,900 planes to nearly 2,500,000 men and 75,000 aircraft. An amazing accomplishment that shows how much was changing during this time, and Arnold’s influence on the development of air power.


 
Key Takeaways:

  • Hap learned to fly in the Wright Brothers ground school and became one of the first military pilots worldwide.
  • Hap grounds himself after a near death experience in a Wright Model C flying the first ever aerial spotting of artillery during an accelerated stall.
  • After testifying for Billy Mitchell and leaking information to the press, Hap and his family are forced to decamp for Fort Riley Kansas after Mason Patrick refuses Haps own request to court marshal himself after getting caught. 
  • He directed the expansion of the US Air Force upon entry into WWII to create the most powerful air force in the world.
  • Hap Arnold was the only officer to hold a five-star rank in two different US military services, the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Air Force.
  • Use the code SEASON1 for 20% off your Wings Membership! Become A Member

    Support Behind the Wings by making a financial contribution to Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum’s Annual Fund! wingsmuseum.org/give

    References:

  • HENRY. H. ARNOLD > Air Force > Biography Display (af.mil)
  • Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold > National Museum of the United States Air Force™ > Display (af.mil) 
  • Here’s why Hap Arnold, a practical visionary, became the ‘father of the Air Force’ (airforcetimes.com) 
  • Become A Member | Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum (wingsmuseum.org)
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