Cpl. Vernon L. Burge Cpl. Vernon L. Burge became the first enlisted pilot three years after the Army bought its first airplane. He was Lt. Benjamin Foulois' mechanic on Signal Corps airplane No. 1 at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, in 1910, and Lt. Frank Lahm taught him to fly in the Philippines two years later. In August 1912, Burge received aviator's certificate No. 154 from the Federation Aeronautique International and also was promoted to sergeant. Click here to return to the Enlisted Pilots Overview. Find Out More Related Fact Sheets Wright 1909 Military Flyer Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.