Tag Archives: Air Medal

19 May 1976

Captain James A. Yule, U.S. Air Force

19 May 1976: A Strategic Air Command Boeing B-52D Stratofortress eight-engine bomber took off from Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth, Texas on a training flight. As the airplane’s landing gear was retracting, the hydraulic system failed leaving the right front gear with its 2-wheel bogie partially retracted and unlocked. The hydraulic system failure also disabled the B-52’s steering, brakes and rudder. Captain James A. Yule, an Instructor Pilot, took command of the aircraft. SAC headquarters at Omaha, Nebraska, diverted the airplane to Edwards Air Force Base in California so that the bomber could land on the large dry lake bed there.

Rogers Dry Lake and Edwards Air Force Base, looking south west. Captain Yule landed his B-52 Stratofortress on the dry lake bed. (U.S. Air Force)
Rogers Dry Lake and Edwards Air Force Base, looking to the south west. Captain Yule landed his B-52 Stratofortress on the dry lake bed. The air base and its concrete runways are at the top center of the photograph. (U.S. Air Force)

After a five-hour flight and making several practice approaches, Captain Yule landed the aircraft. With no brakes, it coasted for two-and-a-half miles before coming to a stop. During the roll out, the right front bogie bounced up and down, providing no support. However, with the limited control available, Captain Yule successfully landed the Stratofortress with no damage and no injuries to the crew. He and another pilot received the Air Medal, and the rest of the air crew were awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Boeing B-52D-75-BO Stratofortress 56-0606, the same type bomber flown by Captain James A. Yule, 19 May 1976. In this photograph, the airplane has its landing gear extended and flaps lowered. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-52D-75-BO Stratofortress 56-0606, the same type bomber flown by Captain James A. Yule, 19 May 1976. In this photograph, the airplane has its landing gear extended and flaps lowered. (U.S. Air Force)

Captain Yule was the recipient of the Mackay Trophy for 1976. Established in 1911 and administered by the National Aeronautic Association, the Mackay Trophy is awarded to the “most meritorious flight of the year” by an Air Force person, persons, or organization. His citation reads:

The Mackay Trophy.
The Mackay Trophy.

For gallantry and unusual presence of mind while participating in a flight as an instructor pilot of a B-52D Stratofortress.

“Captain James A Yule, distinguished himself by gallantry and unusual presence of mind while participating in an aerial flight as an instructor pilot of a B-52D aircraft on 19 May 1976. Captain Yule’s flight developed a unique multiple emergency and he assumed command of the aircraft, and at great personal risk, checked out the hydraulic open wheel well area to detect the problem. Using initiative, he coordinated with ground agencies and crew members and determined that a safe landing could be made after loss of braking and complete failure of steering. Captain Yule’s professional competence and outstanding airmanship under extreme stress resulted in successful recovery of the crew and a valuable aircraft. His courageous acts in landing a malfunctioning aircraft reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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14 July 1922–14 June 2008

Major Robin Olds, United States Army Air Forces. 1946. (LIFE Magazine)

14 July 1922: Brigadier General Robin Olds, United States Air Force, a fighter pilot and triple ace with 17 official aerial victories in two wars, was born at Honolulu, Hawaii. He was the first son of Captain Robert Olds, U.S. Army Air Corps, and Eloise Wichman Olds. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1942 and completed pilot training the following year.

Lieutenant Robin Olds with "SCAT II," A lockheed P-38 Lightning.
Lieutenant Robin Olds with “SCAT II,” a Lockheed P-38J Lightning.

Sent to Europe as the pilot of a Lockheed P-38J Lightning and assigned to the 434th Fighter Squadron, 479thh Fighter Group, he became an ace in his first two missions, shooting down 2 Focke-Wulf Fw-190 fighters on 14 August 1944 and 3 Messerschmitt Bf-109s on August 23. The squadron re-equipped with North American P-51 Mustangs and Captain Olds continued to destroy enemy fighters. By early 1945, just 23 years old, he had been promoted to major and commanded the squadron. Major Olds completed the war with a record of 12 aerial victories, and another 11.5 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground. He had flown 107 combat missions.

Ron Olds with "SCAT VI," A North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, in England during World War II.
Ron Olds with “SCAT VI,” a North American Aviation P-51D Mustang, in England during World War II.
Ella Raines
Ella Raines (Universal Pictures)

After World War II, Robin Olds transitioned to jet fighters with the Lockheed P-80A Shooting Star at March Air Force Base near Riverside, California. While stationed at March, Olds met his future wife, actress Ella Raines. They married in 1947 and had two daughters, Christina and Susan.

In October 1948, Major Olds returned to England as the commanding officer of No. 1 Squadron, Royal Air Force, at R.A.F. Tangmere. He was the first non-Commonwealth officer to command a R.A.F. squadron. The squadron flew the Gloster Meteor F. Mk.IV.

Following the tour with the R.A.F., Olds returned to March Air Force Base as operations officer of the 94th Fighter Squadron, which had been equipped with the North American Aviation F-86A-1-NA Sabre.

Olds was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1954. From 1955 to 1958 he commanded the 86th Fighter Interceptor Group at Landstuhl Air Base, Germany. After assignments at the Pentagon and the National War College, in 1963, Colonel Olds assumed command of the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, at RAF Bentwaters, England.

Colonel Olds with a McDonnell F-101C Voodoo at RAF Bentwaters. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Olds with a McDonnell F-101C Voodoo at RAF Bentwaters. (U.S. Air Force)

Robin Olds returned to combat as commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Rachitani Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1967. Flying the McDonnell F-4C Phantom II, Colonel Olds scored victories over two Vietnam Peoples Air Force MiG-17s and two MiG-21s, bringing his confirmed score to 17 kills. (There have been rumors that he actually shot down as many as nine MiGs, but credited those to other pilots to avoid being pulled out of combat and sent back to the United States.) Olds flew 151 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Coloenl Robin Olds, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, with SCAT XXVII, his McDonnell F-4C-24-MC Phantom II, 64-0829, at Ubon Rachitani RTAFB, 1967. U.S. Air Force)
Coloenl Robin Olds, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, with SCAT XXVII, his McDonnell F-4C-24-MC Phantom II, 64-0829, at Ubon Rachitani RTAFB, 1967. U.S. Air Force)

In September 1968, Robin Olds was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and assigned as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy. He retired from the Air Force in 1973.

During his military career, Brigadier General Robin Olds had been awarded the Air Force Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with three oak leaf clusters (four awards), Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters (six awards), Air Medal with 39 oak leaf clusters (40 awards), Air Force Commendation Medal, as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross of the United Kingdom, the Croix de Guerre (France), and the Republic of Vietnam’s Distinguished Service Medal, Air Gallantry Medal with Gold Wings, Air Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Colonel Robin Olds, United States Air Force
Colonel Robin Olds, United States Air Force

General Olds passed away 14 June 2008 at the age of 84 years. He is buried at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Brigadier General Robin Olds next assignment was as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I had the pleasure of serving under his command. (U.S. Air Force)
Brigadier General Robin Olds’ next assignment was as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I had the pleasure of serving under his command. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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