Note: This exhibit is located on the museum's second floor.
Gen. Henry Harley Arnold, a pioneer military aviator and man of scientific vision, built what became the most powerful Air Force of any combatant nation in World War II. His career spanned nearly half a century of military aviation.
Taught to fly by the Wright brothers, he was the first person ever to win the Mackay Trophy for achievement in military aviation. It was awarded to him 1912 for successfully reconnoitering a triangular course from College Park, Md., to Washington Barracks, D.C., from there to Fort Myer, Va., and return to College Park. The second Mackay Trophy was awarded to him when, in 1934, he led a flight of 10 B-10 bombers from Washington, D.C, to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back.
In September 1938 Arnold became the Chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps and in 1942 was named Commanding General of the Army Air Forces. For his pioneering flights and for directing America's air campaigns against the Axis powers during WWII, Arnold received some of the nation's highest awards and decorations. He also received numerous decorations from foreign governments.
He was the recipient of three Distinguished Service Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross, and he became the only airman to wear the five stars of a General of the Army.
Arnold's greatest reward was seeing the signing of the National Security Act of 1947, establishing the U.S. Air Force as a branch of the armed forces separate from and equal to the Army and Navy. He was a major contributor toward its creation.
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