Civilian Pilot Instructor Insignia


The use of civilian flight instructors to train USAAF and USN aviation cadets in primary flight schools is an interesting story. As part of the New Deal, the FDR administration set up the civilian aeronautical association (CAA) to try to spur the American civilian aviation industry. The idea was that pilot training programs would increase the number of civilian pilots, civilian aviation companies, and the building of airports. Privately run flight schools and University and collage-run flight and aeronautical programs began to crop up all over the country.

As it became apparent that the US was likely to become involved in hostilities in Europe or the Pacific, the military became acutely aware of the totally inadequate military pilot training (they were training about 500 pilots a year) that was available. The solution was to utilize these civilian flight schools to train aviation cadets in the basics of flight. Initially, about 25 schools were contracted out to train pilots in primary flight schools for the military. Since the instructors were civilians, they didn’t have any specific uniforms or insignia that they wore. However, many of the schools adopted wings, patches, and cap badges that their instructors could wear.

Here are some examples from my collection of these wings and badges from my collection.