George W. Bush Flew Ray City Skies

George Walker Bush graduated from flight school at Moody Air Force Base near Ray City, GA

George Walker Bush graduated from flight school at Moody Air Force Base near Ray City, GA.

President George W. Bush: Military Pilot

In the winter of 1968 while a senior at Yale , George  Walker Bush went to Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts to be tested as a pilot candidate.  He joined the Texas Air Guard on May 27, 1968, with the rank of Airman Basic and began basic training next day at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. He served as an enlisted man in “active duty for training” for three months. On September 4, 1968, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (147th FI Group) at Ellington AFB near Houston.

On November 21, 1968 he was sent to the 3550th Student Squadron at Moody AFB in Georgia for flight training. If he followed the usual regimen, he would have flown 30 hours in a T-41–a military version of the familiar Cessna 172 –before advancing to T-37 and T-38 jet trainers. At the end of his first year in the Air Guard, his 201 (personnel) file credited him with 226 days as an officer. Adding 95 days as an enlisted man, he served nearly eleven months during his first year in the Air Guard.

Did George W. Bush ever visit Ray City, GA while he was stationed at Moody AFB? Many pilots do. He certainly would have flown the skies over town as he made the final approach for landings at the base

Did George W. Bush visit Ray City, GA while he was stationed at Moody AFB? Many pilots do. He certainly would have flown the skies over town as he made the final approach for landings at the base

Bush graduated No. 23 out of the 53 pilots in his class at Moody. His father, then a Texas Congressman, gave the squadron’s commencement speech in November 1969. On November 30, 1969, Bush returned to the 111th FIS at Ellington AFB and received his pilot’s wings in March 1970.

Pentagon records released in September 2004 show that Bush flew a total of 326.4 hours as pilot-in-command over the three years 1970-1972. In addition, he was credited with 9.9 hours as co-pilot, presumably in a two-seat TF-102A trainer while qualifying to fly the supersonic jet. The records show Bush’s last flight was in April 1972.

Military Record of George W. Bush

Military Record of George W. Bush

Aircraft flown during 1968 Flight School at  Moody Air Force Base

The T-41 trainer is a standard Cessna Model 172 light general aviation aircraft purchased "off-the-shelf" by the Air Force for preliminary flight screening of USAF pilot candidates. The first 170 T-41As were ordered in 1964, and an additional 34 were ordered in 1967. Most went into service at various civilian contract flight schools, each located near one of Air Training Command's Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) bases. In 1968 and 1969 the USAF Academy acquired 52 T-41Cs, with more powerful engines, for cadet flight training.

The T-41 trainer is a standard Cessna Model 172 light general aviation aircraft purchased “off-the-shelf” by the Air Force for preliminary flight screening of USAF pilot candidates. The first 170 T-41As were ordered in 1964, and an additional 34 were ordered in 1967. Most went into service at various civilian contract flight schools, each located near one of Air Training Command’s Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) bases. In 1968 and 1969 the USAF Academy acquired 52 T-41Cs, with more powerful engines, for cadet flight training.

Cessna T-37 Tweet. From 1961 to 1975 there were no changes in the mission or responsibilities at Moody. The 3550th, under the Consolidated Pilot Training Program, trained Air Force officers as aircrew members with the Cessna T-37 and T-38. During this 14 years, 4,432 pilots were trained and received their wings. Base personnel strength varied during the period from 2,000 to 3,000 military personnel. On 1 December 1973, the 3550th Pilot Training Wing inactivated and the 38th Flying Training Wing activated in its place; however, no changes in personnel, mission, or aircraft ensued.

Cessna T-37 Tweet. From 1961 to 1975 there were no changes in the mission or responsibilities at Moody. The 3550th, under the Consolidated Pilot Training Program, trained Air Force officers as aircrew members with the Cessna T-37 and T-38. During this 14 years, 4,432 pilots were trained and received their wings. Base personnel strength varied during the period from 2,000 to 3,000 military personnel. On 1 December 1973, the 3550th Pilot Training Wing inactivated and the 38th Flying Training Wing activated in its place; however, no changes in personnel, mission, or aircraft ensued.

Northrop T-38 Talon. The T-38 Talon is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record. It is used primarily by Air Education and Training Command for undergraduate pilot and pilot instructor training. Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also use the T-38 in various roles. The instructor and student sit in tandem on rocket-powered ejection seats in a pressurized, air-conditioned cockpit. Student pilots fly the T-38A to learn supersonic techniques, aerobatics, formation, night and instrument flying and cross-country navigation. More than 60,000 pilots have earned their wings in the T-38A.

Northrop T-38 Talon. The T-38 Talon is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record. It is used primarily by Air Education and Training Command for undergraduate pilot and pilot instructor training. Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also use the T-38 in various roles. The instructor and student sit in tandem on rocket-powered ejection seats in a pressurized, air-conditioned cockpit. Student pilots fly the T-38A to learn supersonic techniques, aerobatics, formation, night and instrument flying and cross-country navigation. More than 60,000 pilots have earned their wings in the T-38A.

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1 Comment

  1. gerald k lane said,

    July 29, 2015 at 1:54 am

    I was a student at Moody one year after George W. Bush. We had the same Instructor in the T-38. Major Norm Connant. In my research of G W Bush’s service, I have respect for his service and his dedication to this country. My research reflects he finished 3rd in his class.

    During one of the his campaigns, the opposition often showed a video of Bush 43 in his fllight suit, kicking up his heels, apparently in a celebration of superiority, he was on top of the world. I know exactly where this video was made and have experienced the same feelings that G W Bush had when the video was done.

    Moody AFB pilot graduates were the most adverse weather experienced fresh pilots in the U S Air Force. Often we worked, flew 7 days a week trying to get back to the programmed time line to finish in 52 weeks.

    On fog days about 7:30 AM, ( we showed up at 4:45 AM), the instructors just gave up. The swamp fog moved in and closed the base down. We were told go get breakfast and come back in an hour or so.
    The mess hall was just across the street from the T-37 flight building.
    The mess hall had the best breakfast in the whole state. The price was right and you got a break from the stress of student flying. I would kick up my heels just as W did in that video, crossing that street. I was not the son of a Texas congressman, but the son of a share cropper from the west side of the State. I still kick up my heels in celebration of down time and a damn good breakfast.

    By the way, The check pilots we flew with did not care, nor did they ask, who you father was. If you flew the airplane well, it was reflected in your check report. If you screwed up, you busted. Do it over and get it right and you graduate. The bust screwed up your class ranking.

    Served 10 years active and 13 years AF Reserve. Retired at Moody AFB, GA.

    By the way, Kudos to Raymond Bean, washed out at Moody, Qualified as back seater F-4 Phantom, and was shot down in North Vietnam. On repatriation he was asked what he wanted to do. His reply, go to pilot training. He graduated first in his class at the 80thFTW Sheppard AFB, TX. What is the difference between failure and success? Confidence, I suppose, or maybe a good instructor from Moody AFB.


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