Hap Arnold: The General Who Invented the U.S. Air Force
by Bill Yenne, Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2013, $29.95
One of few men to achieve the rank of five-star general, Henry Harley Arnold is recognized as the father of the U.S. Air Force despite having spent his entire military career in the Army. “Hap” Arnold’s career spanned the most important era of aviation development, from before World War I until the end of World War II. Taught to fly on a stick-and-wire biplane by Orville Wright when the number of U.S. military pilots could be counted on the fingers of one hand, Arnold eventually established the world’s largest and most powerful air arm.
If it hadn’t been for Arnold, it is debatable whether there ever would have been a U.S. Air Force. He had the organizational and administrative skills required to transform the prewar Army Air Corps, a second-rate air arm equipped with obsolete aircraft, into the formidable U.S. Army Air Forces, which would ultimately come to dominate the skies over Germany and Japan. In Hap Arnold, Bill Yenne has done a fine job of telling the complex story of one of the most important figures in American military history.
Originally published in the September 2014 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.