The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955

Zhc Origim of Aiitary Aviation
ii eas, 1910-1913
WILLIAM C. POOL
ALTHOUGH recent military historians have said that the
Aviation Section of the Signal Corps was "created vir-
tually from whole cloth in 1917," the heritage of the
United States Air Force involves a period of pioneer adventure
and achievement that began with the establishment of the first
flight training school at College Park, Maryland, in i909. During
this pioneer stage in the history of military aviation a small group
of officers and enlisted men, under first the Aeronautical Division
and later the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, labored with
primitive equipment and insufficient funds to conquer new fron-
tiers and lay the foundations for American air power. The story
of these pioneer aviators is, in large measure, a chapter in the
history of Texas and the southwestern region of the United
States. With certain exceptions obvious to continuity, the scope
of this narrative will be limited to the role of Texas and the
Southwest in the history of early military aviation.
After the first successful flights in a power-driven heavier-than-
air machine had been made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in
1903, the young inventors returned to Ohio and erected an air-
plane shed in a cow pasture at Simms Station or Huffman
Prairie, about eight miles from Dayton. They continued their
flight experiments and, between 1904 and 1907, made several
unsuccessful attempts to interest the board of Ordnance and
Fortification of the War Department in the military possibilities
of the airplane. Although the United States Army, functioning
through the Signal Corps, had been experimenting with observa-
tion balloons since the Civil War, the military planners were in
no hurry to purchase an airplane. In fact it was the renewed
interest in observation baloons and dirigible balloons that re-
sulted in an office memorandum creating the Aeronautical Divi-
'Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate (eds.), The Army Air Forces in
World War II (Chicago, 1948), I, 4.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/. Accessed April 16, 2014.