I was born in 1930 in Baltimore, Maryland at a time when, if you heard an airplane flying overhead, you ran outside to look at it. This was before World War II and aviation was in its infancy. People who flew were considered daring heroes, and probably just a little bit crazy.
Names like Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker and Amelia Earhart were known to everyone. When I was about eight or nine years old, there was a parade down the streets of Baltimore for a pilot nicknamed "Wrong Way" Corrigan. He had wanted to repeat Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean but was denied the necessary permits to do so. After telling authorities that he had decided to give up and fly home, he ended up in Europe. Of course, his excuse was that he had taken off and guessed he had turned the "wrong way".
When I was about twelve years old, my father was diagnosed with a circulation problem in his legs and ordered to take long walks. So almost every Sunday on my father's only day off, he and I would walk to any of the interesting places in the vicinity of east Baltimore. My favorite destination was an airport called Logan's Field. There was a detachment of Army Air Corp planes stationed there: single-engine monoplanes painted bright blue and yellow.
My biggest thrill was watching an army pilot walk out to one of those planes, climb up into the cockpit and take off. For whatever reason, I decided right then that I wanted to be an Army Air Corps pilot.
And I was one!
Ltc Alfred (Joe) D'Amario, USAF ret.