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CC Moseley engraved instructor wings research


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Recently, a number of CC Moseley awarded instructor wings have been discussed.  It piqued my interest because I recently picked up a couple of these wings--and I was able to use the internet to identify and study about 10 other CC Moseley wings. 
I wanted to use these wings and what every information I could glean from other, much smarter, collectors to address some questions and maybe advance the knowledge of these beautiful and rare wings.

First, who was CC Moseley? 

From Wikipedia: Corliss Champion (CC) Moseley (July 23, 1894 – 1974) was a United States Army aviator and later civilian trainer. He won the inaugural Pulitzer Air Race in 1920. Following his service in World War I in the 27th Pursuit Squadron, where he was credited with one aerial victory flying, he was put in charge of all United States Army Air Service schools.  As a civilian, he set up flying schools which are estimated to have taught over 25,000 pilots and 5000 mechanics, mostly for service in World War II. He was also a business executive, helping found/organize Western Air Express (which later became Western Airlines). Born in Idaho, he ultimately became a So.Cal boy, going to Long Beach HI and USC.


He enlisted in the United States Army and, after graduating from the School of Military Aeronautics in Berkeley, California, he was assigned to the 27th Pursuit Squadron of the 1st Pursuit Group in France. After the war, he was a test pilot and later commandant of the Primary Flying School at Carlstrom Field in Arcadia, Fl.  He was also on General Billy Mitchell's staff, and was placed in charge of all Army Air Service schools. In 1920, Lieutenant Moseley won the first Pulitzer Air Race, flying a Verville-Packard R-1 Racer at a then record speed of about 178 miles per hour (286 km/h). In 1924, he organized and commanded an air unit of the California National Guard based either in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. He resigned from the army as a major around 1925.


He served as Western AIr Express' vice president and operations manager until February 1, 1929. He also became vice president and western manager for the Curtiss-Wright Airport Corp., and a director of Maddux Airlines.  Curtiss-Wright assigned him to Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale, California, and by 1932 he was its manager. It was at Grand Central that he established the first of his private flying schools, Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute (later renamed Cal-Aero Academy). In 1934, Maj. Moseley leased the field & facilities from Curtiss-Wright, and later purchased the property. He immediately changed the name of the technical school operated at the airport from Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute to Cal-Aero Technical Institute. Eventually, Moseley ran 3 other flight schools from his home base at Grand Central: the Cal Aero Flight Academy at Ontario (now Chino Airport), the Mira Loma Flight Academy at Oxnard (now Oxnard Municipal Airport), and the Polaris Flight Academy at War Eagle Field, Lancaster (now Mira Loma Prison).


With war in Europe and Asia looming, General Hap Arnold invited Moseley, Oliver Parks and Theopholis Lee to Washington in October 1938. He asked them to set up flying schools across the country to take the burden of primary training off the shoulders of the Air Corps; and all three agreed. This was the start of the contract flight schools (CFT) of the Civilian Pilot Training/War Training Service (CPT-WTS) Programs. From this, in 1941,Moseley founded Cal Aero Academy in Chino, Polaris Flight Academy in Lancaster, and Mira Loma Flight Academy in Oxnard. During the period between early 1941 and the entry of the US into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Moseley's schools trained Royal Air Force and Eagle Squadron personnel as part of the Lend/Lease act. It is estimated that his schools produced over 25,000 pilots and 5000 mechanics.  Sometime around 1944/45 the CPT-WTS program began to run down and soon after WWII, most of Moseley's schools were shut down. In 1952, he founded the Grand Central Rocket Company, the predecessor of the Lockheed Propulsion Company.  Moseley was closely allied with Ronald Reagan.


While not exactly common, Cal-Aero, Polaris and Loma Linda related items are not impossible to find.  This is a photo of Bob Cummings the TV star/comedian, who was a Cal Aero Instructor duing WWII. There are a number of different contract flight school shoulder patches that were worn by the cadets, ground and flight instructors (many of those examples have been posted).  There were also some flight/squadron patches worn on the leather jackets. There are also at least 3 (and maybe 4) different cap badges that were worn at the Moseley schools (gilt colored wings that form a V and a representative airplane with different numbers of propellers for the different schools).  Again, these aren't terribly rare, and great examples of these (in person and in photographs) can be found elsewhere on this forum.  As for pilot instructor badges, it seems from what I was able to see in studying period year books, many of the later instructors used the generic eagle head instructor wings.  It does seem relatively clear that by looking through these books (although I could be wrong) that day to day instructor uniforms did not include a specific type of pilot wing.  Although some photos show that some instructors may have been wearing the USAAF pilot wings (perhaps ones that they earned from their AAF service.


That being said, there are at least 2 Moseley type wings that are unique.  A very rare version of gilt observer wing with the Cal Aero/Polaris/Loma Linda rondle in the center that I suspect is for a senior or ground instructor (maybe even a manager).  I have only seen 2 of these examples, on in my collection and one in another major civilian flight instructor collector.  Both of these badges came out of Southern California and had "Ground Instructor" Shoulder patches associated with them.

Other "relatively common" Moseley collectibles include metal cadet ID tags, certificates and leather wallets.

However, other than the presumed ground instructor wings, there are other highly sought after and rare Moseley CFT collectibles.... The engraved "In appreciation wings".








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The "golden ticket" of Cal-Aero (including all three schools) is the presentation gilt pilot wings.  These are engraved on the back:


Pilots name (usually initials and last name)

In appreciation

From C.C. Moseley



There are two types of wings, a flat back and a hollowback. Depending on the back, the engravings will be different.  The flat back will have 5 lines of engraving centered behind the shield and the hollow back will have 3 lines of engraving on each wing beside the shield.  I have not seen any wings with hallmarks (either manufacturer or metal content).


All the wings I have seen use the same "Hercules" type findings (a term that I think Marty coined).  The catch is a large "drop in" barrel type and the pin is a relatively massive cammed type.  Very similar to what is typically seen in early, pre-WWII wings.


The front of the two types of wings are identical as far as I can see and the little spaces between the bars of the shield are smooth.  All in all, these wings look to be of the early WWII types.



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Recently, Marty (and Tod) postulated that these wings are/were made by the F H Noble Co of Chicago Ill and posted some examples in another thread.  I think they are spot on spot.


There is some "collector lore" that states that F. H. Noble wings are from the 20's and that they didn't make wings in WWII.  It turns out that F H Noble was founded around the 1900's and was still active (under one of the great grandkids) during WWII.  You can find some WWII vintage insignia with the trademark An "N" in a circle and Marty found a 1940's dated advert showing pilot wings.  Noble was active during WWII and was awarded the "E" award for excellence in manufacturing military ordnance, such as bomb fuses. I also found that Noble renewed their N in a circle trademark as late as the mid-1950's.  Sometime after that, it appears that the family sold the company when the last Noble greatgrand kid retired.

What is interesting is that the hollow (or what I was referring to the "split back" wing has a noticeable die flaw mark on the left side of the shield.  This appears in my hollowback wing.


Also Todd has a very beautiful Desert Air instructor wing that is flat back and has the Noble hallmark.  Most importantly, both these wings have the SAME massive "Hercules" style pins and catches. Recently I found an old auction of a gilt BB&B wing that shares some similarities with the Moseley engraved wings, but the pin and catch are different.  So, I would say that Mary and Tod were 100% correct in IDing these presentation wings to F. H. Noble. 

Noble Flat back.jpeg

Noble Die Flaw.jpeg


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Russ has stated that he thinks (or has information) that these presentation wings were given to instructors after their first class of cadets graduated.  I took the opportunity to use the internet and make a database of the 11-12 Moseley presentation wings I have found. 


There seems to be about a 60/40 ratio of flat back to hollowback wings.  I have not found any dates prior to 1941 or later than 1943.  Their seems to be a broad clustering of dates around December, April and October, but the actual days the wings are dated are not the same.  So if the wings were awarded to the instructors on the day the classes were graduated, this doesn't make sense, since they should all have the same date?  Perhaps it was for something different? 

But going from the fact that Moseley founding his flying schools in 1941 (and that is the earliest date), I would guess that around 1941 and perhaps again later in 1942 or 1943, he purchased a lot of wings from F H Noble and Co.  I do not see any correlation between dates on the wings and the style.  For example the earliest wing I found was a flat back wing awarded to G. E. Eckles on 8/4/41 while a hallowback wing was awarded to R. V Nelson on 10/30/41.  The latest wings in my data base (flatback awarded to C. Knee on 12/21/43 and hollowback wing awarded to Richard Martiss on 2/3/43). I think that it is unlikely that Moseley knew WHEN he would be presenting wings to an individual, so my belief is that they had a "stock pile" of gilt wings that they could pull out and have engraved.


I have some idea that there may have only been about 250-500 civilian instructors employed at Moseley's schools between 1941 and 1944 or so.  That is just a guess based on my impression from looking at the year books.  That would suggest that perhaps the MOST of these wings produced with fall within that range.  I have in my database 11 wings.  I know of a few collectors who have more presentation wings, and a quick, unscientific, back of the envelop accounts suggest that there are around 50 known extant examples (plus or minus 10-20).  Maybe there is a stash somewhere, but...  That means that these wings are rather rare in the universe of USAAF insignia.


Finally, all the wings seem to be hand engraved by someone with a great deal of skill--in fact, it appears that all the wings were engraved by the same hand.  So, If I had to guess, I would suspect that these wings were engraved by someone located in Glendale Ca, since it seems that Moseley was headquartered in the Glendale Airport area.  I will be trying to chase this down.  Also, it isn't clear to me (yet) which instructor served at which school.  I would like to figure that out.


If anyone has some "non-internet/non-forum" posted wings and wants to share I would appreciate that greatly.  It would be nice to have a database with known instructors, the dates that the wings were awarded, and from what school they were instructing.

This is the data that I was able to collect from the internet.  11 wings, the names of the instructors and the dates awarded.  F=flatback type, H=hallowback type.




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I just want to commend the scholarly research being done here lately.  I have learned a great deal.  


You are what makes this hobby worthwhile!  Thank you!



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I'm not sure who posted it, but someone else had found an old advertisement from Noble concerning their "Hercules" fittings, so that was actually a trade name used by Noble.  The massive size of them are certainly Herculean in appearance. 


As great minds think alike, I had also started a list of Moseley presentation wings I could find photos of on the internet.  Here are a few more to add to the list:


Scott A Murray - 16/6/1943 - (I only noted it was a Noble but not whether it was full or hollow)

C.F. Wolee - 8/26/1941 - F

R.J. O'Gorman - 10/30/1941 - F

Michael T. Kuzenka - 10/29/1942 - H

Scott A Murray - 12/15/1943 - Robbins?

Edward Norris - 10/14/1942 - H


I also thought the one instructor's last name was Eekles but Eckles is probably correct.  


For C.L. Knee I had it also possibly being a Robbins wing, and for O.S. Davis I had it being an AECo wing.


Since most of these belong to Russ hopefully he can confirm the makers of the Murray, Knee and Davis wings.

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I will add a couple more bits of info to Patrick's excellent thread.  I have a couple class books from these schools, Class 41-I from Cal-Aero Mira Loma at Oxnard and Class 44-E from Polaris at Lancaster.  The 41-I book states that on July 28, 1941 the school celebrated one year of operations and training so this school actually started in 1940.


Also, at least by 1944 Polaris at Lancaster was actually a Basic school not a Primary school.

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Excellent ! Extensive research and superb documentation.

Thank you for your time and education.

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The following was copied from this website:



Polaris Flight Academy Chosen as Basic Training Base For United States Army Air Cadets

LANCASTER - 1942 - At the request of the West Coast Air Force Training Center, Polaris War Eagle Flight Academy at Lancaster will become a basic training school for cadets of the United States Army Air Force, commencing about August 10th, according to an announcement made public Tuesday of this week by Frank Lowe of the Cal-Aero Schools, speaking for Major C. C. Moseley, president.

Mr. Howe stated that no more cadets would be received at War Eagle Academy at Lancaster, but that those now in training will remain there until they have completed their courses, which will be about January 2, 1943, when the last class graduates.

In making the announcement public, Mr. Howe stated that Major Moseley, head of the Cal Aero Schools, made this statement:

There will be no change of personnel at War Eagle Academy. The same instructors and other personnel now training British cadets will handle the training of US fliers.

The Cal-Aero School in Ontario will drop basic training as a part of its courses, and with Mira Loma Flight Academy at Oxnard, will devote its entire time to primary training only. All basic training will be handled at War Eagle Flight Academy at Lancaster, the only civilian school in the Untied States to handle basic training of Army pilots.

Every four and one-half weeks a new group of US pilots will arrive at Lancaster to commence their basic training. After completing their course here, they will sent to Army Advance Training posts where upon completion of their advance course, they will receive their wings and commission.

In contemplation of greatly increased demands on the War Eagle Flight Academy, construction work has already started to double the base in size. Barracks to accommodate twice the number of cadets now housed there under its British training contract will be built as well as other construction to expand the facilities.

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Thanks guys.


There are some important dates and background when we are thinking about the civilian pilot training programs:


Aviation in the United States was not regulated during the early 20th century. A succession of accidents during the pre-war exhibition era (1910–16) and barnstorming decade of the 1920s (barnstormers caused 66% of fatal accidents during 1924) gave way to early forms of federal regulation intended to instill public confidence in the safety of air transportation. At the urging of the aviation industry, President Calvin Coolidge appointed a board to investigate the issue. The board's report favored federal safety regulation, which gave rise to the Air Commerce Act on May 20, 1926. The Act created an Aeronautic Branch assigned to the United States Department of Commerce, and vested that entity with regulatory powers to ensure a degree of civil air safety. Among these powers were: testing and licensing pilots, issuing certificates to guarantee the airworthiness of aircraft, making and enforcing safety rules, certificating aircraft, establishing airways, operating and maintaining aids to air navigation, and investigating accidents and incidents in aviation. In 1934, FDR renamed the Aeronautics Branch to the Bureau of Air Commerce.


Because of the Great Depression, the USA seemed to have lagged behind many other countries in the local development of civilian aviation.  Outside a few of the larger commercial airlines, the general state of American civilian aviation was lackluster (or so it seemed).  This became a priority of FDR's administration, and he began to look at various Government assistance programs for civilian aviation. The Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 contained language authorizing and funding a trial program for what would evolve into the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). The CPTP was initially intended to bolster CIVILIAN aviation and training of civilian pilots and had no/little connection to MILITARY aviation.  The program started in 1939 with two laws passed by Congress in April and June, with the government paying for a 72-hour ground school course followed by 35 to 50 hours of flight instruction at facilities located near eleven colleges and universities. Also of interest was the development of civilian-run airports and civilian aviation-based technologies, such as airplane manufacturing, aviation technical schools and other aviation-related support networks.  In general, the outcome of this program seems to have been a total popular success.  Not only men, but women (some of the early WASPs) and African American pilots (think of the Tuskeegee Airmen) were trained.


Yet despite the obvious potential benefits of the CPTP to the US, the military and congress was initially totally uninterested in putting any part of the military training programs under civilian control.  Civilian pilot training was to be conducted at schools, Universities and in private companies. The country still had a strong isolationist faction and many groups saw the "militarization' of the CPTP and CAA to be akin of sabre-rattling.  Many people seem to have forgotten (or were never aware of it to begin with) but in the 30's not many people were interested in going and fighting wars in Europe or Asia.


However, some visionaries, such as Hap Arnold saw the benefits of the CPTP and in October 1938, Hap Arnold (with the help of Moseley and a couple others) initiated unfunded startup of the civilian pilot training programs at Parks Air College, C. C. Moseley's Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute (which had been renamed Cal Aero Technical Institute), and the Boeing School of Aeronautics. After the Nazi invasion of Poland in late 1939, even the most isolationist began to see how appalling unprepared the US was for any sort of war.  At this point, it seems that the military started to "rethink" some of its initial reluctance of using the CPTP to train pilots for the military. 


It was in May 1939 the first nine schools were selected (including Cal-Aero), nine more were added in August 1940 (?Mira Loma?), 11 more in March 1941 (including Polaris), and 15 more by October 1941—four months after the formation of the USAAF—and just two months before the United States' entry into World War II. By the program's peak, 1,132 educational institutions and 1,460 flight schools were participating in the CPTP. 


Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US was officially neutral in the war in Europe (with some being pro-Allies and some like Charles Lindberg and Joeseph Kennedy being pro Nazi), but with the 1941 Lend/Lease act, the United States were able to legally supply the United Kingdom (and British Commonwealth Countries), Free France, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with food, oil, and materiel between 1941-1945.  In 1941, that there were 6 BFTS schools that trained British pilot cadets in the US as part of the British Flight Training Program schools (BFTPs).  I am not sure if any foreign military pilots were trained in the US prior to 1941 as that would have impacted on the US neutrality but many Americans went to Canada for training with the BFTPS.  The BFTS programs seemed to have closedin the US, although foreign cadets continued to be trained in the US at CPTP schools.


After the attack on Pearl Harbor the CPTP became the War Training Service (CPTP/WTS) and from 1942 to 1944, served primarily as the screening program for potential pilot candidates. Students still attended classes at colleges and universities and flight training was still conducted by private flight schools, but all WTS graduates were required to sign a contract agreeing to enter the military following graduation. The CPTP/WTS program was largely phased out in the summer of 1944, but not before 435,165 people, including hundreds of women and African-Americans were trained to fly.


According to the book "200,000 Flyers: The Story of the Civilian AAF Pilot Training Program" by WiIlard Wiener (I suspect that many aspects of these schools changed over the course of the war, but I think this gives a "pretty good" approximation of the timing).

The Grand Central Flying School in Glendale (which was part of the Cal-Aero Corporation) were the parent company of Cal Aero Flight Academy and Mira Loma Flight Academy. Cal-Aero Technical Corporation was one of the first schools established in 1938/39. In August of 1940,  It seems that Cal-Aero Technical Corp in Glendale gave rise Cal-Aero Academy (1940)  in Ontario (which was one of the original 9 CPTP primary flight schools)--it also seemed to have served as the model for using contract civilian pilot instructors.  Mira Loma Flight Academy (a daughter company of Cal-Aero Technical Corp) was also a primary flight schools and had been renamed (to avoid confusion with the other Cal-Aero Academy) and moved to Oxnard in June of 1940.  Polaris Flight Academy (Lancaster) was built and commissioned in 1941 for the express purpose of training RAF cadets under the Lend/Lease program  The school shifted to USAAF pilot training after Pearl Harbor and was involved in advanced training as mentioned before.


A very complex alphabet soup of companies.  Out of this chaos rose the most powerful Air Force of WWII.

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Just a quick update and thank you all for those of you who sent me information.  After hitting up my brain trust, you guys on the forum, and a couple of recent eBay auctions, I have put together some initial observations:


The current data base ended up with 35 named and engraved Mosely wings.  It appears that the earliest date is from Sept, 1940 and the latest is Feb 1944.  There is one wing where the date of presentation is unknown to me.


My original estimate of about 50-60 extant wings has mostly held up, if we assume that there are collectors outside of my immediate knowledge base who have some of these wings.


            Summary of the database

There are at least 5 potential variations of engraved Moseley wings.  The "type" designation is artificial.

Type 1) Noble (probably) flatbacks.  (N= 15)  Code T1NF (type 1, Noble, Flat)

Type 2) Noble (more than likely) hollow backs.  These have an obvious die flaw on the backside of the shields that are found in Noble wings. (N=12). Code T2NH


*  Types 1 and 2 have massive pin and catch (Hercules findings)

*  The dates on these cover from 9/14/40 - 2/23/43. 

*  The flatbacks (60%) are slightly more common than the hollowbacks (40%), but the dates each was engraved overlaps with little obvious patterns. 

*Two of the T2NH wings were presented to well known movie actors who were instructors at Cal-Aero Academies!


I think it is safe to say that these wings represent the most early cohort of Moseley presentation wings. 

They are also (relatively speaking), the most common.  I suspect that reflects they were given during the height of the Cal-Aero/Mira Loma/Polaris contract flight school activity (1940-1943)


There are also about 5 other wings that have the smaller and less robust findings (i.e. they seem to differ from the Noble wings with the Hercules findings).  Perhaps the original batch of Noble wings were used up and these were the replacements?


*  These wings are mostly in the flatback, seem to have the same engraving style and were presented between September and December of 1943.


3) Unknown (Robbins or BB&B?) flatback (N=4) Code T3UF (Type 3, unknown, flatback)

4) Unknown (Robbins or BB&B?) hollowback (N=1) Code T4UH


*  Types 3 and 4 have smaller, more delicate findings (not the Hercules findings).

*  I have no idea of who made these (they could be variations of the Noble wing, OR Robbins, BB&B or other).

*  They may represent the final few classes of cadets who were going through the schools.  By 1944, the CPTP/WTS programs had begun to wind down and perhaps there were simply fewer instructors employed.


There is also one wing (which was the second award to O.S. Davis) that was engraved on a gilt AECo pilot wing.  This wing represents the latest engraved date in my database.


5) AECo engraved wing. (N=1) Code T5AH (Type 5, AECo, hollowback)


* This wing was awarded in February, 1944.  Mr Davis was also awarded a T2NH wing in early 1942.

*  At least one grouping of an instructor also included a gilt AECo wing (I don't think it was engraved).

* Thus is is possible that the "regular day to day" instructor wings worn by Moseley's instructors may have included gilt pilot.  A perusal of the Cal Aero year books doesn't make that exactly clear, although at least in later books you see many of the instructors wearing the generic Eagle head instructor wing.  There are some photos of a pilot-style wing being worn as a cap badge.  So much more research needs to be done in that regards.


2 date and types unknowns (both to same instructor -- S Murray, one from 6/43 and 12/43).  Based on the data base, I think it would be fair to guess that one is a type 1 or 2 and the other a type 3 or 4 wing.  That would be the measure of a good database, how well it predicts the distribution of newly discovered wings.


Other observations:

At least 2 instructors (O.S. Davis and S. Murray) seem to have been presented 2 Moseley wings.


In summary, I have a total 35 wings in the database.  I still suspect that there was only a total available pool of around 250-500 instructors between 1940 and 1944 who were employed at Moseley's flying schools.  It is likely that the survival rate of these rare badges was only about 10-20%.  So there are still potentially a few hundred still out there for collectors to find! 

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Because my "day job" is being a scientist, I have a tendency to want to analyze and graph things...  Its a curse! LOL.


Here is the distribution of the number of wings awarded by dates (month and year)


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I have a 1944 class F and G yearbook from War Eagle Field (Polaris Flight Academy). 


This book lists 5 squadrons of about 50-60 cadets.  There appear to have been a couple of senior civilian instructors (Field Administrator, Group Commander and Field Commanders).  I assume that there may have been a couple more ground instructors and maybe Link trainers. Then for each squadron, there appear to have been a Squadron Commander and 1-2 Flight Commanders, with something like what appears to be 10-15 additional civilian flight instructors.  For 5 squadrons in the 44F class, that would be about 65-70 civilian instructors at War Eagle field/class.  Since its not clear to me (at least) if 44F and 44G overlapped or were trained concurrent that figure could approximately double.  I haven't figured that out yet, but lets assume they were overlapping with the 44F and 44G classes being staggered as the cadets went through the various stages of training.  I have to do some more research, but either the Instructors filled in for both classes OR maybe they had a unique set of instructors working with each class. The other question was how long did each instructor stay at Moseley's schools.  Maybe as they left, they were then given the "In appreciation wings". Another interesting idea that needs to be researched.

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