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Glider Pilots: Silent Wings

Glider pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Glider pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

L-4s used for primary glider training. (U.S. Air Force photo)

L-4s used for primary glider training. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Student practicing glider landing in L-4 with engine stopped. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Student practicing glider landing in L-4 with engine stopped. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Sailplane used for basic flight training. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Sailplane used for basic flight training. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Silent Wings exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The success of German glider-borne forces early in World War II catapulted the Air Corps into a glider program in February 1941. Glider pilots were unique in that they had no parachutes, no motors and no second chances. In December 1941, plans called for training 1,000 AAF glider pilots, but eventually about 5,500 received their wings. Most glider pilots came from enlisted ranks -- all were volunteers. Upon graduation, enlisted men would be promoted to staff sergeant (or would retain present grade if higher) while officers would train in grade. But after Nov. 21, 1942, all enlisted graduates were appointed as flight officers upon completing advanced glider training.

Click on the links below to learn more about glider pilots during WWII.

Glider Pilot Training
Glider Pilots in Combat
Glider Pilot Casualties
Cadet Issue Dress Coat

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.

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