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rustywings

Southern Airways pilots and instructors began wearing this style wing and cap piece in 1943.

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The two original flight schools described above shut down in 1945. With the sudden need for pilots in Korea in 1951, Southern Airways contracted again and established a flight school for the USAF in Bainbridge, Georgia. Here's the Flight Instructor's wings for that school.

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Back of the "Bainbridge" Flight Instructor's wings. This civilian contract school remained open from 1951 to 1961.

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Southern Airways shut down their school in Bainbridge in 1961. Today, the site is an industrial park. This marker is apparently all that remains.

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In the early 1960's, with the Viet Nam conflict quickly escalating, Southern Airways again contracted with the U.S. Army to train helicopter pilots. They opened a "Primary" flight school at Camp Wolters near Mineral Wells, Texas. Here's a Flight Instructor's cap piece.

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1960's era shoulder patches for "Flight Instructor" and "Instructor Pilot" with corresponding instructor's wings. (What is the difference between a Flight Instructor and an Instructor Pilot?)

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The Viet Nam era Flight Instructor's wings at Camp Wolters were made by O.C. Tanner, Salt Lake City. The design of the Instructor's wing is near identical to the Army pilot design.

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Back of the flight instructor's wings (center) with two Army pilot wings for comparison. (Two O.C. Tanner produced wings with different hallmarks, plus a Robbin's made wing at the bottom).

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According to a little internet research, Southern Airways was responsible for training 40,000 military pilots from 1951 to 1973.

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Another shoulder patch and Flight Instructor's wing variation...most likely jeweler-made.

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Please feel free to post your Southern Airways Contract Flight School wings, patches and photos here. I'm sure there are numerous Viet Nam era rotor-jocks out there who have items and tales from their days at Camp Wolters. We would sure like to hear from you.

Russ

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1942 dated picture of a Mira Loma Flight Instructor. Note the cap piece with two-blade prop.

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A very distinguished looking Polaris Flight Academy Instructor. Note the gilt pilot wings.

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Contract Flight Instructors assigned to Cal Aero, Mira Loma and Polaris Flight Schools wore the top piece on their crushers and the bottom insignia on their overseas caps. The overseas cap pieces have a red, white and blue enamel roundel in the center of the airplane profile.

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