Laughlin Heritage Corner: November

  • Published
  • By Robert Marcell
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The Laughlin Heritage Corner with the 47 FTW Historian

November is a month of gratitude and togetherness in the United States, as we collectively prepare ourselves for Thanksgiving Day and the end of the year. One thing we should always be thankful for is our forbearers—the men and women who built, over thousands of years, the world that we live in today: A world filled with lights, planes, computers, and medicine!

This month in particular, we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact, originally penned on 21 November 1620. As the passengers of the Mayflower readied to land in what is now Massachusetts, having spent ten weeks at sea crossing the Atlantic, they had to come up with a way for the Pilgrim and the non-Pilgrim settlers to get along with each other. They decided to draft and sign an agreement that has come to be known as the “Mayflower Compact.” This agreement was essentially a social contract to live by the laws that they themselves would establish, and it was signed by 41 of the male passengers. In it, the settlers did not declare independence from England (indeed, they reaffirm their loyalty to the king), but they did agree to a form of self-government where they themselves would collectively make the decisions governing their day-to-day lives. Because of this, it is frequently considered the beginning of civil, secular governance “of the people, by the people, for the people” in the United States.

This month also marks, on 14 November, the 110th anniversary of aviation pioneer Eugene Burton Ely’s 1910 feat: In which he flew an airplane from the deck of a ship, proving that it could be done—and further establishing the value of airpower to the military. He took his plane, a Curtiss Pusher, from deck to sky aboard the USS Birmingham. This first takeoff from a ship occurred outside Hampton Roads, Virginia.

In addition to these anniversaries, a number of other important events happened right here at Laughlin this month as well. These include:

  • Major Anderson Laid to Rest

When: 7 November 1962

What: Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., of the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron, was buried with full military honors in Greenville, South Carolina. As a member of the 4080th Strategic Wing at Laughlin AFB, Major Anderson was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis’s only casualty to enemy action.

  • Determination Made to Make Maintenance at Laughlin a Primarily Civil Service Operation

When: 8 November 1988

What: The 47 FTW Commander received notification that the aircraft maintenance function would convert to a civil service operation as a result of a cost analysis study. The study determined the civil service provided the most efficient organization (MEO) for this service, in that it was more cost effective. The changeover from military to civil service took place in 1989.

  • Laughlin Received Its First T-6A Texan II

When: 15 November 2002

What: Laughlin AFB officially received its first T-6A Texan II. This airplane is now our primary trainer—the first plane that military aviators learn how to fly.

  • First SUPT Class Entered Preflight Training

When: 18 November 1993

What: Laughlin’s first SUPT class, Class 95-02, entered preflight training. SUPT, or “Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training,” was a change in the way the Air Force trained pilots. From 1993 onward, pilots would first learn to fly on a primary trainer (originally the T-37 Tweet, now the T-6A Texan II), then “track,” or specialize, into either a fighter/bomber track or an airlift/tanker track.

  • Laughlin Received Its First T-1A Jayhawk

When: 18 November 1993

What: The 47 FTW received its first T-1A aircraft, tail number #92-0342.

  • 4080th Presented Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer by President Kennedy

When: 26 November 1962

What: President John F. Kennedy presented the 4080th Strategic Wing with an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award streamer for all services rendered from 2 September 1959 to 24 November 1962. That period included the reconnaissance missions the 4080th flew during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ceremonies were held at Homestead AFB, Florida.

As always, check back next month for more: We’ll highlight new Laughlin history, new Laughlin stories, and new Laughlin anniversaries in December!