Volume 35
August 25, 2014

A Weekly Aviation Career
Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.

A Weekly Aviation Career Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.
 
A Weekly Aviation Career Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.
Career Profile: A Life in Aviation

A Life in Aviation

Paul Tibbett's Remembered
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 AvjobsWeekly 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 report.

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.

A Life in Aviation
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" (1989).

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.

 

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