AKA Roy C. Kirkland
Roy C. Kirtland
Captain C. Def. Chandler and Lt. Roy C. Kirtland in Wright B airplane
with the first machine gun (Lewis) ever fired from a plane - 1912
Photo Courtesy PhotoGallery, Pictures of Oklahoma and its People

Submitted by Steve Watson
Archivist, AFRL/VSIH - 5-3-06
     Colonel Roy C. Kirtland, Air Corps, who was recently detailed for duty in the Inspector General's Department, Washington, D.C., was born at Fort Benton, Montana, May 14, 1874, and was educated in the public schools of Denver, Colo., and Washington, D.C.
     Enlisting in the Army on November 8, 1898, he saw service as Private, Corporal and Sergeant, Company M, and Battalion Sergeant Major, 7th Infrantry, to August 29, 1901. He was then commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry and served continuously with this branch of the service until March, 1911, in the meantime being promoted to 1st Lieutenant, May 18, 1905.
     To read the complete biography, click on:
Kirtland Biography

Roy C. Kirtland
Roy C. Kirtland
  8. In June of 1912, Capt. Charles D. Chandler and Lt. Roy Kirtland went aloft in a Wright B airplane with a Lewis machine gun and fired it, making it the first machine gun to sprout wings and fly.

****The following is a hand written note on the back of the accompanying photo.

First machine Gun fired from a plane. Back on June 7, 1912, Col. Isaac M. Lewis, the inventor of the Lewis Machine Gun, took one of his first sample guns to College Park Maryland and asked that it be fired from an airplane. The Commanding Officer of the U.S. Army flying school there Capt. C. de F. Chandler agreed to undertake the flying experiment and he went aloft with his pilot Lt. Roy T. Kirkland in a Wright B Plane.

Collection of Richard W. Bowler Lt. Col. USAF (Ret), 9-20-07

     "Kirtland Air Force Base is named after Colonel Roy Carrington Kirtland, the third oldest military pilot in the US Army at the time of his death in 1941. He played a prominent role in the early Air Corps and in aviation history.".

     If you search for "Roy C. Kirtland", using the Google search engine, (9-21-07), you will find about 139 links. Most of them only offer brief and repetitious references to his life and career. Most commonly you will read the sentence, "The base was named for Colonel Roy C. Kirtland, a military aviation pioneer who learned to fly with the Wright brothers." However, if you visit each of the sites, and search for "Kirtland." you can assemble at least a minimal biography of his career.
This is an increase of about 100 links since 2003. An especially valuable one is cited immediately below.

     This page on the Kirtland Air Force website offers a very informative summary of his life and career. You can access this page by clicking on the title above.

Roy C. Kirtland died in 1941.
Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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Richard W. Bowler Lt. Col. USAF (Ret)