Today in AFJ History

August 11, 2013  

1934: Navy seeks small aviators

Lt. Harold B. Miller with his Curtiss F9C-2 "Sparrowhawk" fighter visits his hometown of Newton, Iowa, while en route from Lakehurst, N.J., to Moffett Field, Calif., in October 1933. (Navy)

Lt. Harold B. Miller with his Curtiss F9C-2 “Sparrowhawk” fighter visits his hometown of Newton, Iowa, while en route from Lakehurst, N.J., to Moffett Field, Calif., in October 1933. (Navy)

From the archives: August 11, 1934

Naval Aviation “Jockies”

Since the practical application of aviation to military needs, which began in the early stages of the World War, there has been a continuous struggle in design in which weight factors have opposed the considerations of maneuverability. This struggle of weight versus performance has been confined largely to the blueprint and production stages in so far as material to be used in aircraft structures and engines is concerned.

Naval aviation has long been a leader in the field of weight reduction, one of the outstanding results being the development of the modern, efficient, air-cooled radial aircraft engine.

Recently the Navy Department broadened the scope of this weight reduction investigation to include the personnel who actually fly the aircraft.

Would it be possible to form a squadron or squadrons manned by pilots whose weights were in the range of approximately 115 to 125 pounds? it was asked.

The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, at the request of the Bureau of Aeronautics, instituted an analysis of the latest medical records of about eight hundred officer pilots with a view to illuminating this subject. The results of the analysis were most interesting and revealed definitely that the idea of the “jockey squadrons” was not feasible, since only a negligible number of pilots were within the desired weight range. Only one-half of one per cent were of less than 125 pounds and only 1.5 per cent were over 200 pounds in weight. It was also discovered that the majority of the Navy’s pilots, or 85 per cent, “weighed in” at 130 to 180 pounds. Of this group 53 per cent were within the range of 150 to 180 pounds. This survey would indicate that the methods of selection of pilots, and their subsequent manner of living, has resulted in an unusually uniform group of healthy men.

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