Arnold, Leslie P., COL

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Colonel
Last Service Branch
Aviation
Last Primary MOS
15A-Aviation, General
Last MOS Group
Aviation (Officer)
Service Years
1917 - 1945

Aviation

Colonel


 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
Connecticut
Connecticut
Year of Birth
1893
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Arnold, Leslie P., COL.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
New Haven

Date of Passing
Jan 21, 2014
 
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 30, Site: 348

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Last Known Activity
One of two Army Air Force pilots of the Douglas World Cruiser "Chicago."  This airplane along with the "New Orleans"  were the first two airplanes to fly around the world in 1924.  The other pilot of the "Chicago" was Lt. Lowell H. Smith.

Arnold was co-pilot and mechanic for the DWC-2 "Chicago" (S/N 23-1230). All totaled, the "Chicago" weighed roughly 5,586 pounds including a pound of malted milk, two pounds of aircraft dope and four pounds of linen. By any measure, this is sparse equipment for a journey of 28,945 miles, completed in 371h:07m, at an average speed of 78 mph (cited at aerofiles.com).

Leslie Arnold was born August 26, 1893 at New Haven, CT.  Prior to joining the Army he worked as a draughtsman at Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT.  He joined the Army in 1917 and served for eleven years. He showed early aptitude for flying and was assigned to an early calss at the Military School of Aeronautics at Princeton University, where he received his ground instruction. WWI was underway and he was shipped to France where he completed his flight training in aerobatics and advanced flying.

He was among the first pilots to experiment with aircraft attack weapons, aerial photography, crop dusting and dropping smoke screen bombs. In 1921 he was a member of Gen. Billy Mitchell's group that conducted tests off the Virginia Capes to prove that battleships could be sunk by aerial bombardment.

Concurrently he was assigned for special training in Air Service photography. He graduated that school in 1922. Soon after he was chosen for the World Flight training at Langley Field, VA. He had accumulated about 1,500 flight hours, of which 800 were cross-country flights. This made him eminently qualified for the World Flight, and he flew many miles as pilot of the "Chicago".

After military service, Arnold, in 1928, became assistant to the president of TAT-Maddux Air Lines, which became TWA. In 1936 he became vice president of Pennsylvania Central Airlines, which became Capital Airlines. He joined Eastern Airlines in 1940, becoming assistant to Eddie Rickenbacker who was then president of the company.

During WWII, Arnold reenlisted as a colonel and organized the 39th Air Freight Wing and later became commander of the Ferry and Transport Services in Europe. He returned to Eastern after the war and was elected vice president in 1946. He died in March 21, 1961.

It is interesting to note above that they finished their voyage in Seattle, as planned, on September 28th. Arnold notes it took them 371 hours and 11 minutes, which differs by four minutes from, say, the 371 hours 7 minutes cited at aerofiles.com or by eight hours from the 26,445 miles in 363 hours 7 minutes cited in this book. This is a discrepancy which, at this late date, makes little difference: many people have flown around the world since 1924. There was only one "first time", however.

Regardless, after reaching Seattle, Arnold's record for the "Chicago" shows they flew around on the west coast until November when they headed east again. They passed through Tucson a second time on November 4-5 on their way to Dayton, OH. A new engine was installed, it appears, at Tucson.

Arnold maintained a prose diary of his flight with the "Chicago."  The first page captures the first day's flight from Seattle (on pontoons) to Prince Rupert Island in 8 hours 10 minutes. The second page documents their approach to Washington, DC on the way back, and their meeting with President Coolidge. The third page documents Sunday, September 28, 1924 as they returned to Seattle, WA.

Arnold's dark pilot humor shows on the first page as he describes the 40-foot waves on the Pacific soon after departure. "Great sport" he says, "to watch them dash against the shore -- greater yet to imagine a forced landing." They landed at Prince Rupert at 4:55PM in a blinding snow storm. DWC-1, "Seattle", broke the outside left struts upon landing. Arnold's final synopsis in the lower right-hand corner: "Hell of a day."

The second page covering September 9, 1924 describes every pilot's nemesis, head wind. Upon (delayed) arrival at Bolling Field in Washington, DC at 4:55PM the crews were complimented to discover that President Coolidge and his entire Cabinet had been waiting in the rain since 11AM. This was in marked contrast to Coolidge's response to the flyers before they had left in April. He had said to General Patrick at a photo op, "Who are these men?"

His final entry in his diary on Sunday September 28th is, "The best part of the whole trip -- the finish, to have it all over with, to be thru with the worry and the strain of it all."

Note that Time Magazine reported that Technical Sergeant Arthur H. Turner was to be the mechanic for this Aircraft in their March 24, 1924 issue.  Source: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,718043,00.html

The August 18, 1924 issue has another article about the flight.  Source:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,718960,00.html

The May 19, 1924 issued reports that MAJ Martin and SSG Harvey are safe after their crash.  Source:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,768953,00.html

The January 14, 1924 issue of Time Magazine reports on the approval of the Around the World flight.  Source:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,717467,00.html

He married popular movie and stage actress Priscilla Dean, but they later divorced.
---------------------------------
Army Distinguished Service Medal Citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to First Lieutenant (Air Service) Leslie P. Arnold, United States Army Air Service, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility. Lieutenant Arnold as Assistant Pilot of Airplane No. 2, the "Chicago," and Adjutant and Finance Officer of the U.S. Army Air Service around-the-world flight from 6 April 1924 to 28 September 1924, displayed rare organizing ability, initiative, and resourcefulness in carrying out these duties, in addition to the alternate piloting of Airplane No. 2 throughout the voyage. His technical skill, broad vision, business experience, high personal courage, and untiring energy contributed in a very decided manner to the successful accomplishment of this pioneer flight of airplanes around the world. In the splendid performance of these arduous and trying duties he conspicuously contributed in an accomplishment of the first magnitude of the military forces of the United States.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 14 (1925)
Action Date: April 6 - September 28, 1924
Service: Army Air Forces
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Assistant Pilot
Division: Airplane No. 2 ,"The Chicago"


 
   
Other Comments:
Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_World_Cruiser

http://www.dmairfield.com/people/arnold_le/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priscilla_Dean

http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards
/recipient.php?recipientid=16362


 
   
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