Lewin B. Barringer, 1906 -- 1943
Maj. Lewin B. Barringer was lost on January 24th, 1943, on a flight from the USA to North Africa, while serving as a War Department Director of the American Glider Program (AGP). It means that today is 66th Anniversary of his death. After this catastrophe unlucky in many aspects American Glider Program was moved to Headquarters, Army Air Force Office and was led by Special Assistant on the USAAF's glider program Maj. Richard C. du Pont -- famous sport glider pilot the same as Lewin B. Barringer.
In 1936 he became a holder of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Gliding Silver Badge No. 3 in the USA. It was glider badge issued by the Commission Internationale de Vol à Voile belonging to the FAI and serving as a glider committee for international circles of soarers and glidermen.
Below Bowlus Albatross II glider can be seen with Lewin B. Barringer at the controls. The picture taken on April 4th, 1935.
In 1940 Lewin B. Barringer one more time became a holder of prestigious glider badge issued by the FAI -- this time Gliding Gold Badge. It was Gold Badge No. 4 in the USA
Below there is a photo taken on April 8th, 1938, at Nashville. Lewin B. Barringer can be seen after his record-breaking flight when he reached 6,300ft (old record was 6,200ft).
Who Lewin B. Barringer was the USMF forumers may read in his book "Flight Without Power" published by Pitman Publishing Corporation in 1940, 1942 and 1943. The collectors of American aviation press of WWII period may read also his article, most likely the last written by him, "Towed Air Transports" published in the "Flying", Vol, XXXI No. 5, November 1942. At the end of this article he wrote among others:
"Graduates of the Air Force glider pilot course will receive the rank of staff sergeant with flying status and certification as glider pilot. Many, who meet the necessary educational and leadership qualifications, will be commissioned as 2nd lieutenants. […] To any man who can meet the qualifications and is anxious to do a real flying job for his country I want to say this. Once you see one of these big aircraft in operation you can't help but realize that it is a truly serious and important as well as new and thrilling occupation to pilot one."
Above Lewin B. Barringer wrote "thrilling occupation" but in November 1942 he could not know how much glider assaults will be "thrilling" for the US glider pilots forced by the USAAF to break the law and flight safety standards. Entire interwar period American military disregarded the gliders and the moment of big revenge for it came during WWII. The AGP was not so successful as American media would like to see it today but Lewin B. Barringer was not responsible for it. He was the AGP decision maker too shortly. He was the head of AGP in romantic period when American press was full of futuristic, and fantastic, visions presented graphically by artists when unattacked US cargo gliders land safely on enemy territory under powerful fighter cover. Reality was totally different.
The American sport glider pilots in the military American Glider Program were the idealists then and we can guess that Barringer was not an exception. They were every inch experts and idealist who collided with huge concrete wall -- the wall of USAAC/USAAF mentality. Interwar American military aviation hated the gliders and neither Col. Charles A. Lindbergh nor Feldmarschal Herman Göring were unable to persuade incompetent military officials that this manner of thinking is strategic mistake. As the first Director of the AGP Maj. Lewin B. Barringer was forced to work in unfriendly environment without understanding what the glider pilots and their GIR troops carried on board needed to survive flight and assault landing. Theoretically, but theoretically only, Lewin B. Barringer was supported by General Henry Arnold who believed (or declared it only) that a civilian expert knew more on a gliders than any military man. And General Arnold was right of course, but practice and reality showed lack of understanding for the USAAF glider pilots.
Bad luck did not allow Lewin B. Barringer to see what the USAAF did of his plans of professional flying by the cargo gliders. No doubt he would be proud of the American military glider pilots he prepared to assault operations but he would be much lesser proud of military authorities that broke every rules in AGP. One of the pathologies was piloting the CG-4As by single pilots although it was against the law. It is hard to believe that Lewin B. Barringer would accept it but he could do nothing -- he died long before the first Allied gliderborne assault against Sicily on July 9th, 1943.
This is my private opinion nobody is forced to agree of course but I would say that Lewin B. Barringer belonged to American "Glider Big Three" that -- perhaps -- could be able to halt scandalous treating the US Army glider pilots by the military authorities. The treating that in today's circumstances would be court-martialed.
In my opinion this "Big Three" was:
● Lewin B. Barringer -- lost on January 24th, 1943.
● Richard C. du Pont -- mentioned above, killed in glider accident on September 11th, 1943.
● Dr Karl O. Lange – meteorologist, Professor of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The last of mentioned "Big Three" was a head of the best meteorology science team in the world then. He was the best researcher of the thermals and no wonder that he personally assisted both Lewin B. Barringer and Richard C. du Pont before their record-breaking glider flights. During WWII Karl O. Lange was held as enemy allien and was totally unable to support his favourite glidermen in their military projects. As can be seen not one of glider "Big Three" was able to influence the American Glider Program in more intensive and longer manner.
Below -- Lewin B. Barringer in 1943.
Remember your excellent glider pilot Maj. Lewin B. Barringer.
Maj. Lewin B. Barringer -- Anniversary of his death
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