Gerald T. Hanley, Sr. (1884-1950) is considered the founder of the Rhode Island Air National Guard. Then-1st Lt. Hanley of Battery A, Coast Artillery, in the RI state militia used his own Curtiss hydro-aeroplane to provide basic aeronautics instruction to members of his battery well before the US entry into World War I.
Early flier Harry Atwood gave Gerald and his wife an airplane ride in 1912, which hooked them on flying. Gerald went to the Curtiss factory at Hammondsport, NY and bought a flying boat in 1913. By 1915, he was an officer in the RI National Guard, using his own flying boat to bring the state’s militia into the aviation age.
Despite his flying proficiency and experience, Hanley went to France in World War I on horseback, with Battery A, Rhode Island Field Artillery, an element of the 26th “Yankee” Division. After the war he bought a surplus Navy Curtiss seaplane at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and had it shipped to the Gallaudet factory in Warwick where it was made ready for flight. The For several years the Hanley seaplane was a fixture in Narragansett Bay.
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- The Allen Family of Aeronauts
The Allen Family of Aeronauts: according to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, “If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it.”
- James & Ezra Allen
Barrington natives James Allen (1824-1897) and his younger brother Ezra Allen (1840 – 1902) distinguished themselves through a lifelong commitment to aeronautics in the 19th century.
- MG Bill Anders, USAF (Ret)
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- 126th Aviation Regiment, RIANG
- Paul Broadnax
Paul Broadnax, the child of two well-known and influential Boston-area classical musicians, played with the Tuskegee Airmen military band and dance band.
- CAPT William Calhoun
Captain William McBrayer Calhoun, USN, Ret. (1948-2015) was a long-time RI resident who graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1967. Capt. Calhoun was a LTJG with the highly decorated Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3), nicknamed the “Seawolves”, an all-volunteer squadron formed in support of Naval Special Warfare operations and Mobile Riverine Forces.