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End of an Era

The last USAF enlisted pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The last USAF enlisted pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The sergeant pilot training program ended in late 1942 since the educational requirement for cadets had been lowered to that for an aviation student (high school diploma) and all students were to be appointed at graduation as flight officers or second lieutenants. The promotion of those pilots still sergeants was ordered on Nov. 17, 1942, but promotions didn't catch up with all sergeant pilots who were overseas until 1944. Eventually, nearly all became second lieutenants. Not wanting to be mistaken as unblooded new pilots, some of these combat veterans scoured their new gold bars with dirt until they resembled those of first lieutenants. (In World War II, AAF regulations also provided for enlisted glider pilot and enlisted service pilot, but generally such pilots were flight officers or above.)

Click here to return to the Enlisted Pilots Overview.

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