General James H. Doolittle

//General James H. Doolittle

General James H. Doolittle

Inducted in 1969

First To Make An All-Blind Instrument Flight From Take Off to Landing, 1929

1896 – 1993

Beginning in the 1920s, “Jimmy” Doolittle compiled an impressive record as an air pioneer. He initially earned national attention in September 1922 when he made the first transcontinental crossing of the United States in a single day, traveling 2,100 miles in 21 hours. In 1927, Doolittle was the first pilot to complete an “outside loop,” a gravity-defying maneuver many considered impossible.

In 1928, Doolittle was released by the Army to head the Full Flight Laboratory. He quickly became involved with the problems of flight in poor visibility, especially with a project to develop instrument flying to combat the menace of fog. Newly developed radio aids, in conjunction with the Sperry gyro-horizon and directional gyro, gave Doolittle the equipment he needed to succeed. On September 24, 1929, flying in a hooded cockpit of a Consolidated NY-2 biplane, then Lieutenant Doolittle was able to take off in a dense fog, fly a specific course, and land without reference to the earth.

General Doolittle is probably most remembered for his Tokyo raid during World War II. He led sixteen B-25 Mitchell medium bombers against the Japanese home islands in April 1942. After the war, Doolittle returned to private business, but continued to serve on many advisory boards and commissions. In 1950, the Harmon International Aviation Awards Committee named him “Aviator of the Decade.”