From the Archives: Daedalian Founding Documents

As World War I opened in Europe in 1914, the airplane was a new technology considered little more than a toy of the wealthy or exhibition item suitable for public fairs and functions. Its ability to serve a legitimate military or tranportation purpose was taken lightly, if not outright dismissed.

However, by the time the United States entered the war, the role of airplanes for military uses was considered so important that the Allies requested the Americans furnish 5,000 combat pilots for the Western Front by early spring of 1918. At the time, only 40 military pilots had been trained in the United States, 11 of whom had died in training accidents.

A call for volunteers went out. By the time the Armistice was signed, some 11,000 American airmen had received their wings in the Army, and another 2,000 aviators in the Navy and Marine Corps had earned their wings. All were motivated by the desire to serve their country in its hour of need.

Following the war, several attempts were made to solidify the bonds of aerial comradeship in some form of organziation. While various informal groups popped up intermittently over the years, no formal structure came into being until the 1930s.

As another war beckoned on the horizon in 1932, momentum built to establish a formal fraternal organization of World War I pilots. This organization was intended to establish a standard that would serve as a reminder to Americans and the world that unity, patriotism, courage, and the spirit of self-sacrifice was an essential part of our national fabric. The organization also served as a reminder of America’s growing air power as a means to preserve freedom and deter powerful aggressors.

A group of representative pilots came together in 1933 while stationed at Maxwell Field, Alabama to consolidate these ideas. The Order of Daedalians was officially chartered on March 26, 1934. Members were composed of those commissioned officers who, no later than the Armistice of 1918, held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft.

The name, the “Order of Daedalians” originated from the legend of Daedalus, the first person to accomplish heavier-than-air flight. It was considered proper and fitting for an organization composed of those who were the first to fly their country‚Äôs airplanes in time of war.

Daedalians 87th Anniversary Quiz:

  1. What is our mission statement?
  2. Who was originally eligible to be a member?
  3. What rated positions must a military aviator hold, or have previously held, in order to be eligible for membership in the Daedalians at this time?
  4. How many charter members were there?
    BONUS: Name one.
  5. How many local flights does our organization currently have?
  6. What are the three categories of membership?
  7. How did we get our name?
  8. What is a Founder member?
    BONUS: Name one.
  9. Name three of our programs.
  10. Who was the first female Daedalian?
  11. What are the tenets of the Daedalians?
  12. Who is our current Executive Director?