Billy Mitchell
Aviation Pioneer

William Lendrum "Billy" Mitchell
(December 29, 1879 – February 19, 1936)

Billy Mitchell is most remembered as an aviator and as an aviation and aerial bombing advocate. Prewar, an officer in the Army's Signal Corps, he served in the Philippines, Cuba, Alaska, the San Francisco earthquake and fire relief, on the Mexican border, and on the Army General Staff (1913-16).

During and after WWI, he held a number of command and staff posts in the Air Service, both in France (1917-19), and in the US (Director of Military Aeronautics, 1919; Chief of Training and Operations, 1920). As Assistant to the Chief of Air Service (1921-26), he advocated the creation of an independent Air Service. He arranged demonstrations illustrating the utility of air power through the historic bomber vs. battleship trials (1921), a group flight from New York to Nome, Alaska (1923), and the Army's Around-the-World Flight of 1924.

Mitchell's public criticism of government policies, in defiance of Army regulations, resulted in his court martial for "conduct prejudicial of good order and military discipline" and insubordination in Oct-Dec 1925. Found guilty and suspended for five years, Mitchell resigned his commission in Jan 1926. He continued to promote aviation and decry government inefficiencies until his death.

From the Aero Data Files Website

Billy Mitchell being admired by many and highly criicized by some is the subject of a number of outstanding articles on the Internet. Some of the best links are listed below. Mitchell's 1919 article American Air Action in the World War is a major feature of the Doughboy Center in our First Army section.

The Real Billy Mitchell (PDF)
Biographical Sketch of the Aviation Pioneer Air Force: The Journal of the Air Force Association

Billy Mitchell In Alaska
American Heritage

Christopher A. Long's William "Billy" Mitchell Site
By a Scottish relative of Mitchell's; includes bibliography and extensive images.

The Birth of American Airpower in World War I (PDF)
Article by Historian Bert Frandsen

Mitchell's Accomplishment at St. Mihiel (PDF)
Article from Air Force Magazine

Billy Mitchell Reconsideed
Article by Historian James Cooke

William “Billy” Mitchell’s Air Power: from the USAF Air University
Mitchell's Writings and Commentary

The Lost Legacy of Billy Mitchell from Aviation History Magazine
Article by Historian Walter Boyne

Billy Mitchell vs. the Battleships
From the Centennial of Flight Commission

Air Power Visionary
Article by Historian C.V. Glines

The Paradoxical Paradigm: Aviation Leadership, 1918-1926: How William Moffett Changed the Navy and How Billy Mitchell Prevented the Formation of a Separate Air Force (PDF)
From the USAF Air University Website

Transformational Leaders and Doctrine in an Age of Peace: Searching for a Tamer Billy Mitchell (PDF)
From the USAF Air University Website

Billy Mitchell's Court Martial
Air and Space Magazine

Information on the 1955 feature film The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell
From the Internet Movie Database Website

Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell Exhibit at the USAF National Museum
Photos of Uniforms & Memorabilia Included

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