A Chronology of World War I Aviation Events
WWI Aviation History Timeline - Updated 2/21/2017
This comprehensive timeline of the early years of warfare aviation was compiled and is curated by Brigadier General R. G. Head, USAF (Ret.). We wish to thank the General for the contribution of this amazing resource, which we are now able to share with you!
The timeline is laid out pre-1914 and then annual from 1914 through 1918 under the tabs on this page.
For more information on RG Head, as well as his existing and upcoming book publications, please see the "About RG Head - Curator" tab.
Summary of the Great War in The Sky
The RFC, RNAS, and RAF suffered 16,623 casualties and the French Aéronautique Militaire approximately 8,500 casualties during World War I, while the German Air Service has suffered about 15,000.
The American Air Service used 45 squadrons to cover 85 miles of front in 1918. A total of 211 squadrons of all types trained in Great Britain. In France, its 740 combat planes were approximately 11 percent of the Allied strength from Pont-à-Mousson to Sedan. 71 pursuit pilots became aces as they were credited with shooting down five or more German aircraft. Overall the US Air Service destroyed 756 enemy aircraft with combat losses of 289 airplanes and 48 balloons with 235 airmen killed in action, 130 wounded, 145 captured, and 654 Air Service members of all ranks dead of illness or accidents.
Since the entry of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917, the United States Marine Corps ' aviation force has grown from seven officers and 43 enlisted men to 282 officers and 2,180 enlisted men.
RG HEAD, BIOGRAPHY
PhD, Political Science, Syracuse University, 1970
MPA, Public Administration, Syracuse University, 1969
B.S., Engineering Science, United States Air Force Academy, 1960
Distinguished Graduate, National War College, 1977
Top Gun, Advanced Fighter Training, Nellis AFB, 1962
Distinguished Graduate, Undergraduate Pilot Training, 1961
RG Head began flying when he was 15 and writing about aviation since high school. He got his private pilot’s license at 17 and entered the United States Air Force Academy with the second class in 1956. Graduating in 1960 he finished first in his pilot training class and was awarded the Commander’s Trophy. In 1962 he won the Top Gun award at Advanced Gunnery Training, flying F-100s. His first operational assignment was with the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, where he participated in deployments to Japan, Korea and Turkey.
Volunteering for Vietnam he entered A-1 Skyraider training in 1964 and was assigned to the 602d Air Commando Squadron, Vietnam. He flew 325 combat missions over North and South
Vietnam, winning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Returning to the United States he made numerous public presentations on aviation and became an Instructor Pilot in the F-4 Phantom II before being assigned to graduate school at Syracuse University. In 1969 he completed his Master’s degree and PhD in Political Science. He taught International Relations and Defense Policy at the Air Force Academy from 1970 to 1973 and edited a major textbook, American Defense Policy, 3d. ed. He was reassigned to flying as an Operations Officer in Thailand and Squadron Commander of the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which descended from the 90th Aero Squadron, in World War I.
General Head was a distinguished graduate of the National War College in 1977, where he wrote a book with Robert MacFarlane. Crisis Resolution: Presidential Decisionmaking in the Mayaguez and Korean Tree Confrontations. The following year he was a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, and authored an article in Foreign Affairs magazine.
In 1978 he was the Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, following which he joined the Joint Staff, where.as the Special Assistant to the Director he managed the agenda for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and attended approximately 1,000 JCS meetings. Selected for Brigadier General in 1983 he served as the Deputy Commander, Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force, Vicenza, Italy. He retired in 1987 with 27 years of service and 3,000 hours flying time.
The following 20 years was as an environmental engineer and Vice President of SRS Technologies. In this capacity he wrote extensively and provided consulting engineering services to US Space Command, Army Space Command and the U.S. Navy where he won two $100 million contracts for environmental planning for the Navy’s Pacific and Atlantic Commands.
In his retired life he builds dollhouses for his granddaughters and large, scale model aircraft. His five-foot Fokker Dr. I hangs in the Coronado Library, and his six-foot Albatros D. II is in the San Diego Air & Space Museum. He is building an eight-foot Hawker Hurricane for SDASM. He was selected as Coronado’s Man of the Year for 2014 and has a national platform with the 15,000 USAF Academy graduates, Daedalians, Red River Rats, Super Sabre Society, National War College Association, Naval Institute and social media presence on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. He and his wife travel extensively in Germany and the UK, where they attend classes at Oxford University. He has published articles in World War I Aero, Air Force Magazine, USAFA Checkpoints and letters to the editor of Cross & Cockade and Air Force Magazine. He is an experienced public speaker.
Awards and Decorations:
- Distinguished Service Medal
- Silver Star
- Defense Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters
- Air Force Commendation Medal
- Combat Readiness Medal
- National Defense Service Medal
- Expeditionary Service Medal
- Vietnam Service Medal with two Battle Stars
- Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
- Presidential Unit Citation
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
- Overseas Service Ribbon – Long Tour
- Overseas Service Ribbon - Short Tour
- Air Force Longevity Ribbon
- Air Force Marksmanship Ribbon
- Avenue of Heroes, Coronado, California, 2016
- Volunteer, San Diego Air & Space Museum, 2016
- Citizen of the Year, 2014, Coronado, California
- Staff Commodore, Coronado Cays Yacht Club, 2013-2015
- Commodore, Coronado Cays Yacht Club, 2012
- Volunteer of the Year, San Diego Opera, 2008
- Vice President, SRS Technologies, 1987-2007
- Numerous Presentations Naval Air Force, Pacific; CINCPACFLT, CINCLANTFLT, NAVSPECWARCOM, NAVSPECWARGRU ONE, NAVREGSOUTHWEST, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, CHECKMATE
- Outstanding Young Men of America, 1969, 1970
- Outstanding Athletic Graduate, Wrestling, USAF Academy Athletic Department
- Docent, National Air & Space Museum
Links to published books: