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Daedalian Heritage & History

On 26 March 1934, the Order of Daedalians was formally instituted and composed of those commissioned officers, who, no later than the Armistice of 1918, held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft. These World War I military pilots, in the preamble to the constitution of the Order, stated as their purpose: “…to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism and love of country … and the high ideals of self-sacrifice which placed service to the nation above personal safety and position, and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together at that critical hour of our nation’s need…”  Through out our history, we have counted among our members many pioneers and accomplished figures in the history of flight and American military aviation, airpower, and aerospace. 

Today, the Daedalian membership consists of commissioned, warrant, and flight officer military aviators and WASPs and continues to perpetuate a legacy of excellence as we encourage future military aviators. The Daedalians continue to honor as our Founder Members, all World War I aviators who were commissioned as officers and rated as military pilots no later than the Armistice on 11 November 1918. Our organization perpetuates their names as the first to fly our country’s airplanes in time of war. We promote their standards of patriotism, integrity, and good character in our programs to encourage a future in military aviation among America’s youth and among our members who represent a diversity of ages, services, and aviation ratings as they continue to participate in our organization and advocate for American air and space power in support of the total force.

From the Archives

 

Maj. Gen. Byron E. Gates

General Gates was Daedalian Founder Member #7

and one of our 35 Charter Members.

Click HERE or on the photo to view a video of his scrapbook,

one of the many items in our heritage collection at headquarters.

Member Legacy

 FLY – BY – WIRE, OLD STYLE

Some of my young friends who are F-16 jocks have been bragging about their state-of-the-art fly-by-wire side-stick controls, as if they’d invented a new way of flying. That’s like thinking they invented sex. T’aint so! Like sex, we just didn’t make so much noise about it in public. Take a look at the picture. Look vaguely familiar? It is just what it looks like – a fly-by-wire side-stick control. But we had two of them, one on each side of the cockpit! (The Airbus and YC-17 are just catching up).

Actually, the picture is from AAF Manual 50-13, “Pilot Training for the Flying Fortress,” revised 1 May 1945! It shows a formation stick, which was in the B-16G, (the Fortress with a chin turret, for you late-night TV buffs). My 1945 Class I-2-D met up with this gadget in the school at Hendricks Army Airfield, which later became Sebring Racetrack.

We’d gone up to Lockbourne AAF, Ohio in August after B-25 transition, and the war had folded up enroute. We had some war-weary airplanes, and I had an instructor who had also flown a combat tour in Mustangs. He claimed that if you could make a 30-second overhead in a P=-51, you should be able to make a 60-second pattern in a B-17. If! We never did, but it did amaze me how fast that big bird could be muscled around. I remember thinking “We’re going to cartwheel this bastard through the fence, and the C.O. will cream us.” Never a thought about merely getting killed.

Red Ted Fite was a Former Flight 30 Flight Captain. He graduated with his pilot’s wings, with the 3-year West Point Class of 1945. His last flying assignment was with the 3rd Bomb Wing (Tactical), in the Far East, flying B-57s. He was one of our most colorful and dedicated members throughout his life, writing dozens of letters into HQ with advice, information and support on our work through the years, in addition to several articles for publication until his death in 2019. He truly lived up the tenets of the Daedalians and is deeply missed. Read the full piece here.

History Snapshots

In my collection of mementos, I have a small square of fabric taken from the first heavier than air aircraft that ever flew. Just think how we would value a small piece of the first boat or the first wheel that ever turned. All previous civilization was developed as a result of boats and wheels. The aircraft, as such, is a much greater accomplishment than the boat or the wheel. Aircraft operation is not delimited by shore lines or paved highways. The flying officers of the Aviation Section of the United States Army Signal Corps made flying a commonplace performance. More than any other group of people in the whole world, we developed the vehicle which the Wright Brothers had proven to be possible. Our experience gained during those early days was the foundation of the air industry, air transportation, and air military operation. We have lived so closely with this that few of us realize those profound accomplishments. I think those accomplishments justify an ageless continuation of the names of the many who contributed to this great purpose.

General Clement McMullen

The above is the foreword to the history and important papers of the Daedalians, penned in 1953 by then national commander Gen. Clements McMullen. Considered one of the early pioneers of American aviation, McMullen was born in 1892 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917. He began technical aviation training at Georgia School of Technology, then progressed to flight training at Kelly Field, Texas. On 6 March 1918 McMullen earned his wings and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve Corps.

This was the beginning of a long and storied career in military aviation. Gen. McMullen would retire after 37 years of active military service in 1954. He was the oldest active military pilot and commander of the largest air depot in the world at the time of his retirement. Major General McMullen was a Command Pilot, Combat Observer and Technical Observer. He had flown a multitude of different types of AAF and USAF fighter and bomber aircraft, including the XC-99. His awards included: Army Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards); Air Medal; World War I Victory Medal; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Service Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal for Japan; Philippine Liberation Ribbon with Service Star; and the Philippine Independence Ribbon.

In addition to serving as Daedalian National Commander from 1952-1955, he was a Charter Member who participated in the founding of the organization at Maxwell AFB in March of 1934. The McMullen Award, named in his honor, has been presented each year since 1960 to the wing level Air Force unit with the best weapons system maintenance record. You can read more about him at our Founder Spotlight page here.

 

HERITAGE PRESERVATION PROJECT

Founder Stories

Founder Spotlight

Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker
Founder Member #634

See all of our Spotlights
at our archive page HERE.