Wisconsin Historical Society
On this day in 1879, aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell was born in Nice, France. Mitchell grew up in Milwaukee and attended Racine College.
During World War I, Mitchell was the first American airman to fly over enemy lines. He also led many air attacks in France and Germany.
Upon return to the U.S., he advocated the creation of a separate United States Air Force. Much to the dislike of A.T. Mahan, Theodore Roosevelt, and other contemporaries, Mitchell asserted that the airplane had rendered the battleship obsolete, and attention should be shifted to developing military air power. Mitchell's outspokenness resulted in his being court-martialed for insubordination. He was sentenced to five years suspension of rank without pay. General Douglas MacArthur - an old Milwaukee friend -- was a judge in Mitchell's case and voted against his court martial. Mitchell's ideas for developing military air power were not implemented until long after his death.
In 1946, Congress created a medal in his honor, the General "Billy" Mitchell Award. MKE - Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is named after him.
Source: American Airpower Biography
Learn more: http://bit.ly/347S7Op
WHI Images: 10622, 8175 and 11739