A Brief History of the 66th Army Air Forces Flight Training Detachment
With the Tuskegee Institute as Contractor, the 66th Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment began operations in July of 1941, when it received its first class of Aviation Cadets. At that time, in addition to providing Primary Flying Training, the Pre-Flight School was also located at this Detachment. Although construction at the flying field had not quite been completed, student flying training commenced in the latter part of August, 1941.
The General Manager of the school from the start has been Professor G. L. Washington, head of the Department of Mechanical Industries, Division of Aeronautics, Tuskegee Institute. Professor Washington was directing the Civil Pilot Training program of the Tuskegee Institute and in addition assumed the duties of General Manager of the Army Primary Flying School. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, Professor Washington has been associated with the Tuskegee Institute for many years, and is intensely interested in the development of this school.
The first Commanding Officer was Captain (now Lieutenant Colonel) Noel F. Parrish who had, in the summer of 1939, assisted in opening the Army Primary Flying School at Glenview, Illinois, one of the original Army Civil Contract Primary Flying Schools. On December 1, 1941, Lieutenant (now Major) William T. Smith assumed command at which time Colonel Parrish was appointed Director of Training of the Tuskegee Army Flying School. Major Smith, a West Point graduate and former instructor at Randolph Field, came here after having served a year as Assistant Supervisor at the Army Primary School at Albany, Georgia. Under his supervision this flying school has expanded from a comparatively small one to its present size which is comparable to most other Army Primary Flying Schools.
Of the original staff of officers only Captain Harold C. Magoon and Captain John G. Penn are still on duty at Tuskegee. Captain Magoon, a Washington and Lee alumnus and Army rated pilot, has been Assistant Supervisor of this school since its start. Captain John G. Penn, a Virginia Military Institute graduate, likewise has been pursuing his duties as Commandant of Cadets since the school first opened.
Expansion of this school has necessitated the addition of many officers and enlisted men until now the school has a very complete Army staff.
Charles A. Anderson, pioneer Negro pilot, has been Chief Pilot since the school opened. At the start he was assisted by Milton Crenshaw, Charles R. Foxx and Forrest Shelton. Instructors Foxx and Crenshaw have since been promoted to Squadron Commanders.
SOURCE: Tuskegee Army Flying School, Army Air Forces 66th Flight Training Detachment and Army Air Forces Southeast Training Center "Wings Over America". Published by the Army and Navy Publishing Co., Inc. Main Office, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Captain Charles D. Baylis, USMC (RET) Editor-In- Chief and Director of Field Operations, 1942.
Document once owned by the late Private Lucien R. Robert, 1451st Quartermaster Company, Tuskegee Army Flying School. Presently owned by his brother, Joe Robert, Gulfport, Mississippi.
Submitted by Isiah Edwards, Long Beach, Mississippi