Walter printed on the back of the picture:
William (Billy) Mitchell - a major in the U.S. Army Air-Service soloed in a Curtiss JN4 at the "Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station", a branch of the Curtiss Aeroplane Co., located at Newport News, VA, in the spring of 1917.
Billy Mitchell On the front of the picture, Billy wrote:
To Walter E. Lees in whose airplane I made my 1st "solo" flight.
Wm. Mitchell
Brig. Gen. Air Service

  Billy Mitchell Solo  

Photo taken by Paul Culver
     Jimmie Johnson was assigned to teach Major Mitchell to fly and Walter Lees gave him some dual instruction also. They found him a very apt pupil who was ready to solo after a few hours---four, I believe, of dual instruction. I well remember that fall day when Jimmy turned him loose for his solo. As was customary at that time, when a student was making his first solo flight, all other pilots would land and taxi their planes to the side of the landing strip for the safety of all concerned and a white hankerchief was tied to the airplane about to solo.
     Mitchell's take-off was uneventful, but when he circled the field and came in to bring his plane into a landing position, he found that he had gained more altitude than on previous turns,---because he was minus the accustomed weight of the instructor in the plane with him, so when he approached the previously arranged spot, he came in too fast for the three-point landing and the momentum of the machine was sufficient to take him off the ground again. He pulled the plane up, making a half loop and landed and nosed over.
     There hung Billy Mitchell upside down, strapped in his seat by his safety belt. Paul, (Culver) who was standing nearby, ran over to him, then released his belt, and helped him to his feet. No doubt his pride was hurt, but he wasn't and when Paul assured him of that he took a snap shot of the plane, turned turtle, with the small Argus camera which he often wore strapped to his belt for just such occasions. Forever after whenever an airplane turned turtle on landing it was called a "Mitchell."
      Paul gave a copy of this picture to Brigadier General Mitchell at one of the aircraft shows in Detroit and recalled with him many memories of those days at Newport News. At the same time, Walter Lees, then chief test pilot of the Packard Aircraft Co., presented him with the wheel of the airplane in which he had soloed.
From THE DAY THE AIRMAIL BEGAN by Edith Dodd Culver
Cub Flyers Enterprises Inc.

     Billy was a grand guy - and the first thing he told Jimmie when he started training was to forget that he was an army major and to treat him as we did anyone learning to fly.
     One day Jimmy was sick and Captain Baldwin assigned Mitchell to me and I soloed him.
     "Mitchell was very erratic. One day he would be OK and the next lousy. I just happened to catch him on one of his good days. He made two perfect flights this day".
From Walter's Journal

     Teed Culver and I used to walk to the field where the men were flying. Pops taught Canadians first, then our men when the 1st World War started. It was here that Pops soloed William Mitchell. Jimmie Johnson taught Mitchell, but was sick one day and Pops soloed him. It was quite a feather in his cap. Pops earned $10 per hour there at the last. Pops was sent to a field in Illinois and I went to his parents in Mazomanie (June 16) by train

     If you are interested, I have a nice picture of Elizabeth and Harriet Mitchell, Billy Mitchell's daughters, with Walter E. Lees, my father-in-law, at Newport News. Just click on:

Billy Mitchell and the Great Transcontinental Air Race of 1919
by Dr William M. Leary
     GENERAL William "Billy" Mitchell climbed to the top of the mountain during the Great War and saw the shape of the future. A new world opened before him, an age in which "the destinies of all people will be controlled through the air." The dawning of this "aeronautical era" (Mitchell came to believe, with the passion of an Old Testament prophet) meant that the security--and greatness--of the United States depended on the creation of an air force second to none. Returning from France in March 1919 to take charge of the Air Service's Training and Operations Group, the flamboyant airman set out to preach the gospel of air power to the unenlightened.1
     The essential first step along the road to aerial superiority, Mitchell argued, was an independent air force. At his urging, congressional supporters introduced legislation in midsummer 1919 to establish an expanded, unified air service modeled on Great Britain's Royal Air Force. But with powerful opponents arrayed against the scheme (Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, and President Woodrow Wilson all came out against independence), the reorganization bill seemed certain to fail.2
Editor's Note"
This introductory paragraph was extracted from the very comprehensive and fascinating story of this pivotal event in the development of the Air Force. To read the entire story, just click on:
Billy Mitchell

  Billy Mitchell  
Aviation Art by Stan Stokes - "Billy Shows Them"
Displayed with permission from the Aviation Art Hangar.
Editor's Note: This beautiful print is reproduced through the generosity of the artist, Stan Stokes and Ross Levin, Owner of the Aviation Art Hangar. As Ross says on the homepage,
     "We offer a wide selection of aviation art prints depicting military and civil aircraft by notable artists such as Nicolas Trudgian, Stan Stokes, Robert Bailey, Dru Blair, Robert Taylor, Rick Herter, Sam Lyons and others. Whether you're looking for prints of warplanes signed by famous fighter aces, or general aviation art, you'll find them at the Aviation Art Hangar."
     I heartily recommend that you visit his site by clicking on the link above and enjoy the many beautiful prints which are displayed.

  Billy Mitchell  
Lt Col James E Fechet with Billy Mitchell - 4/20/1925
(later Gen. "Gentleman Jim" Fechet),
Library of Congress Collection, 6-27-08

  Billy Mitchell  
  MARTYR--Gen. William Mitchell, right, and his counsel, Frank R. Reid, Illinois Congressman, at the famous courtmartial in 1926 for his too aggressive advocacy of airpower. Mitchell was first to voice vigorous views on vulnerability of naval craft to bombs. Tests proved him right.
International News photo
From the collection of Lester F. Bishop
Courtesy of David Balanky

via email from Victor Vernon III, 8-29-06
Dear Ralph,
     You asked my mother about Billy Mitchell Field in Frisco,NC. My wife and I lived in Frisco for 12 years and passed this thousands of times. It is just 1 short runway and used mostly for private aircraft. In emergencies both Dare County and the Coast Guard will use it for helicopter landings. This is usually for Med-Vac purposes but it was used extensively after hurricane Emily.
     My son and I will be on Hatteras Island in November and I will be glad to take a picture of the historical marker on Highway 12 and send it to you.
With regards,
Victor Vernon III

     If you search the net for "Billy Mitchell", using Google, you will find about 17,700 links! Among the most helpful are the following:


To visit his entry on the site, click on :

William "Billy" Mitchell

Click on "Enshrinee List" and scroll down to "Mitchell."
Use your "BACK" button to return to this site.

     This website offers a number of interesting features including; Who We Are, What's New, Hall of Fame, Nominations and Forward in Flight, the History of Aviation in Wisconsin, a book which may be purchased in their "Shop.". To see a listing of all of the aviators who are honored in the "Hall of Fame," just click on:
Hall of Fame

     You will find that Billy was inducted in the year 1986. You can read his biography by clicking on his name

A non-profit aviation museum located inside
Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport
     On this website you will find several sections of interest. They include; About the MGF, Join The Gallery, Exhibits, Virtual Tour, The Book Shop, Events, Flightlines, Web Feature Articles, Links and Email Us. I especially recommend that you take the Virtual Tour of the museum. To access the site, just click on the title above.

The Day the Airmail Began
A Story of Early Aviation Days
by Edith Dodd Culver
by Edith Dodd Culver

  Mitchell's AltimeterE.B. License Plate  
Altimeter from Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell's Spad XVI
Transferred from the U. S. War Department
Displayed at Steven Udvar-Hazy Center
Photo courtesy of Ross Levin,
Owner of the Aviation Art Hangar.

William Mitchell died in 1936

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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