Today in History, July 14, 1974:
General Carl Spaatz dies.
Spaatz was a fighter pilot in his youth during WW1. He remained in the Army Air Corps, and when WW2 began went to England.
As German bombs fell on London during the Blitz and everyone else ran for the shelters, Spaatz sat on rooftops to gain knowledge of German tactics by watching their bombers and fighters in action.
When America entered the war, he became the commander of the Eighth Air Force as it began daylight bombing raids over Germany.
After the war, the Army Air Corps was separated from the US Army and became its own military branch, the US Air Force in 1947. Spaatz was it’s first Chief of Staff.
Today in History, June 29: 1927 – Five weeks after Charles Lindbergh’s much more famous flight, Army Air Corps Lieutenants Lester Maitland and Albert Hegenberger completed the first trans-Pacific flight from San Francisco to Hawaii. They traveled over 2400 miles over ocean, using instruments to find their way to an island, as opposed to Lindbergh’s 3600 miles to find a continent. They used a Fokker Tri-Motor for their 25+ hour flight so that they would still have power if they lost an engine. The two men had spent the previous decade developing the navigation technology for the flight and repeatedly lobbying their superiors for the opportunity to test it. Both would continue to be heroes in WWII.