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WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

Article about: This is an Enlisted Aviator tunic from a Sgt that served at one of the training fields near Dallas, Texas 1918. A number of years ago a very elderly lady walked into the main office at the U

  1. #1

    Default WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    This is an Enlisted Aviator tunic from a Sgt that served at one of the training fields near Dallas, Texas 1918.

    A number of years ago a very elderly lady walked into the main office at the University of Texas Library, she set a brown paper bag on the secretarys desk and stated that this belonged to my husband and I don't want to throw it away so perhaps you can use it. The University of Texas has an extensive library concerning WW1 Aviation but they are mainly interested in the paper aspect of the early aviation such as books and documents and not much interest in actual uniforms. The bag was unnamed and before they could extract any further information the woman had departed. The bag set on the floor next to shelves of books for years until I happen to be strolling through one day back in 1991. Something told me to open the bag and when I did I was stunned. Crumpled in the bag was this custom made tunic with enlisted aviators wing on the right sleeve and an enlisted cap. After much haggling back and forth a trade was made and the University acquired some rare documentation on US WW1 Aviation and I acquired this magnificant tunic.

    It is a light weight wool custom made tunic with M-1902 white Sgt stripes (somewhat moth eaten) and no provision for or indication of collar insignia ever having been applied. Above the Sgt chevron is a beautiful Bullion Enlisted Aviator Four bladed winged prop. On the left sleeve are three silver stateside service stripes. This is the only bullion enlisted aviator that I have seen. There were several enlisted aviators at Ellington Field and I suspect a few at the other training fields in the ares. Unfortunately they are not well documented and until I find a picture of a enlisted aviator wearing this particular tunic it shall go unnamed.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    What an incredible story of acquisition. That is the nicest set of Enlisted Aviator wings I have seen. I am not sure of the number of EA's during WWI, but there seems to be quite a few examples in wool/felt and silk thread that seem to pop up quite often that look suspect because of quality and because of the number observed. If I were an EA, I definitely would have wanted a (then) shiny wire bullion example on my sleeve so as to not be outdone by the Officer aviators. Beautiful...
    Last edited by Steven M; 12-16-2009 at 03:53 AM. Reason: Spelling
    [B][COLOR=Black][SIZE=3][FONT=Book Antiqua][I] Steve[/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR][/B]

    [CENTER][I][FONT=Georgia][COLOR=orange]Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?[/COLOR][/FONT]
    [/I][/CENTER]
    [B]
    [SIZE=3][COLOR=lemonchiffon][I][CENTER][FONT=Georgia]"Fly on dear boy, from this dark world of strife. On to the promised land to eternal life"[/FONT][/CENTER]
    [/I][/COLOR][/SIZE][/B]

  3. #3

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    Hi Terry, I never even knew there was such a thing as an enlisted wing. Thanks for the education. Great story of how it was found.

    Cheers, Ade.

  4. #4

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    Quote by Steven M View Post
    What an incredible story of acquisition. That is the nicest set of Enlisted Aviator wings I have seen. I am not sure of the number of EA's during WWI, but there seems to be quite a few examples in wool/felt and silk thread that seem to pop up quite often that look suspect because of quality and because of the number observed. If I were an EA, I definitely would have wanted a (then) shiny wire bullion example on my sleeve so as to not be outdone by the Officer aviators. Beautiful...
    Steve,
    It was one of those once in a life time things that one stumbles across when least expected. The aviation research library at the University is not open to the public and it was only because I was with George Williams who was a renouned aviation historian that I was allowed to go into the room where all the documents and books are kept. Had the bag been left elsewhere I suspect it would have been claimed long before. I would be very suspect of those embroidered enlisted aviator wings showing up on e-bay these days. Your right in your assumption that there were not many enlisted aviators and their insignia is quite rare.

    Terry

  5. #5
    ?

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    Hawk, Another incredible posting! In reference to one of your other threads, yes, please keep "boring" us with these fine examples!

    Ok, I am going to ask an obvious question and please don't take this the wrong way. Did you check inside the sweatband of the cap for a name? Sometimes they are too delicate to fold down, but it was a common location for a soldier to mark his headgear.

    Once again, a beautiful uniform and one I would love to learn the history of the Airman who wore it!

  6. #6

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    My Great Uncle said they used to refer to them as "Flying Sargents"
    as most were granted flight status through natural ability, while bereft of the sheepskin that granted one automatic consideration for Flight School.
    The majority were asigned to Flight training schools to handle the basic training of flight candidates and few if any saw duty in France.
    A great many ended up barnstorming the country during the 1920's or working in hollywood as stunt pilots.

  7. #7

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    Quote by BEAST View Post
    Hawk, Another incredible posting! In reference to one of your other threads, yes, please keep "boring" us with these fine examples!

    Ok, I am going to ask an obvious question and please don't take this the wrong way. Did you check inside the sweatband of the cap for a name? Sometimes they are too delicate to fold down, but it was a common location for a soldier to mark his headgear.

    Once again, a beautiful uniform and one I would love to learn the history of the Airman who wore it!
    Beast,
    I have gone over the tunic and hat with a fine toot comb. No success as to original owner. One day a picture will pop up with a Sgt wearing this tunic, Ya gotta have faith.

    Terry

  8. #8

    Default Re: WW1 US Enlisted Aviator Uniform with Bullion Wing

    Outstanding! Good to see an original set (for once). I'm going to jump on board here & say keep boring us with all this aviation goodness

  9. #9

    Default

    I posted these elsewhere on the forum but thought it would be nice to see both tunics in a thread.
    I obtained my wives great grandfathers tunic this year, but I have know about it for a while, but I didn't realize its rarity.
    Supposivley only 2 examples of enlisted bullion wings exist but id say this means at lest 4 do!
    The jacket is named to a Robert Temple
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