The World recently lost an aviation legend
that literally shaped the course of history.
Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr., the Army Air
Forces pilot whose bombing run over Hiroshima,
Japan, in 1945 introduced nuclear war, died
November 1st at his home in Columbus, Ohio.
He was 92. The members of the Avjobs Weekly
video team were fortunate enough to meet
with him a few years ago to discuss a variety
of issues featured via this week's video
To Tibbetts and millions of supporters,
dropping the atomic bomb was a justifiable
means of shortening World War II, preserving
the lives of hundreds of thousands of American
servicemen that military experts said might
have died in a final Allied invasion of
Japan. Brig. Gen. Tibbets was more than
just the pilot of the Enola Gay, the propeller-driven,
four-engine bomber, named for his mother
that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima on Aug.
6, 1945. He was hand-picked to command the
historic 509th Composite Group, the first
military unit ever formed to wage nuclear
war. Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima,
another plane from the 509th leveled much
of Nagasaki with another nuclear bomb, prompting
the Japanese surrender. Tibbets chose the
planes that flew those missions ' specially
reconfigured B-29s, then the largest operational
aircraft on Earth.
Born in Quincy, Ill., on Feb. 23, 1915,
Tibbets moved to Florida with his parents
while still a child. His father, a candy
distributor, hired a popular barnstormer,
Doug Davis, to fly over the Hialeah (Florida)
racetrack as a promotional stunt. The future
pilot rode as a passenger, tossing handfuls
of Baby Ruth bars to the crowd below. Gen.
Tibbets attended the Western Military Academy
in Alton, Ill., and later enlisted as a
cadet at the Army Air Corps Academy. He
began flying bombing raids in 1942 and was
selected to head the 509th Composite Group
in September 1944. "My job, in brief,
was to wage atomic war," he wrote in
his book, "Flight of the Enola Gay"
Tibbets wrote that he wasn't proud of
all the death and destruction wrought at
Hiroshima, but he was proud that he did
his job well. "I didn't start the war,"
he noted. "I didn't do anything except
what I was told to do; what I had sworn
to do, years before, which is 'Fight for
the defense of this country.' " Brig.
Gen. Tibbets is survived by his wife, Andrea;
sons Paul III, Gene and James; grandchildren
and great-grandchildren. Because he feared
giving protesters a place to demonstrate,
Brig. Gen. Tibbets did not want a funeral
or headstone, Newhouse said. Regardless
of whether you support the atomic bomb program
or not, we're sure you'll be interested
in this week's video interview with Gen.
Tibbets captured at a National Business
Aviation Convention in Las Vegas.