|United States Aviator Badge|
|Presented by||United States Armed Forces|
|Established||Second World War|
|First awarded||Second World War|
|Last awarded||On going|
|Next (higher)||Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge|
|Next (lower)||Astronaut Device|
A United States Aviator Badge refers to three types of aviation badges issued by the United States Armed Forces, those being for Air Force, Army, and Naval (to include Marine and Coast Guard) aviation.
Air Force and Army Aviator Badges are issued in three ratings: Basic, Senior, and Command (Air Force)/Master (Army). The higher degrees are denoted by a star or star with wreath above the badge. Air Force regulations state that the basic rating denotes completion of specified training and that the advanced ratings denote experience levels. The Naval Aviator Badge is issued in a single rating for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aviators.
The first United States Aviator Badges were issued to members of the Air Service during World War I. The badges were issued in three degrees: Observer (a "US" shield and one left-side wing), Junior Aviator or Reserve Aviation Officer (a "US" shield between two wings), and Senior Aviator (a star over "US" shield between two wings). The Army Air Service also issued a badge for balloon pilots, known as the Aeronaut Badge.
Enlisted Aviators wore their regular rank insignia and the Observer's badge. There were 29 enlisted pilots before the American entry into World War I. The second enlisted aviator, William A. Lamkey, got a discharge and flew for Pancho Villa. The remaining enlisted pilots received commissions in 1917. There were 60 enlisted mechanics who were trained as pilots in France during the war, but they were used for ferrying duties and did not fly in combat. The recruiting and training of enlisted Aviators ended in 1933.
During World War II, with the rise of the Army Air Forces, a second series of aviator badges were issued to include a design that has survived to the modern day. The Pilot Badge was issued in three degrees, including Pilot, Senior Pilot, and Command Pilot. A polished silver colored version of these badges is currently used as the United States Air Force Pilot Badges.
From August 1941 to November 1942, the Enlisted Aviator program was restarted. Candidates had to be at least 18, possess a high school diploma, and have graduated at the top of their high school class. Graduates were rated as Flight Staff Sergeants or Flight Technical Sergeants and wore the same pilot's wings as officers. They were usually assigned to pilots of transport and auxiliary aircraft to free officer pilots to pilot the more prestigious fighters and bombers. Auxiliary pilots received their own special wings to indicate their status and specialty. In November 1942 all enlisted pilots were promoted to Flight Officer rank and enlisted cadets were graded as Flight Officers or Second Lieutenants depending on merit. The qualifying requirements for the Senior Pilot Wings are: Seven (7) years as rated pilot and permanent award of pilot rating. Plus 2000 total hours or 1300 hours primary and instructor flight (refer to U.S. Air Force aeronautical rating for details).
In 1947, the U.S. Army Air Forces became its own separate service as the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force use the same pilot's badges as the earlier USAAF design, except that starting in the mid-1990s, they began to be made of chrome metal or sterling silver rather than the dull alloy wings used by the Army Air Forces and Air Force from 1947 to the mid-1990s. The U.S. Air Force currently issues several aviation badges including pilot, combat systems officer (formerly navigator), air battle manager, flight surgeon, flight nurse, non-rated officer aircrew, and enlisted aircrew. The requirements to earn these are listed here.
After the creation of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service in 1947, Army Aviation continued to a degree that warranted a new badge for Army Aviators (who piloted light observation and liaison airplanes and helicopters). The result was the creation of the Army Aviator Badge, which is a modified version of the U.S. Air Force Pilot Badge. It comes in three grades: Basic, Senior (7 years' service and 1,000 flight hours), and Master (15 years' service and 2,000 flight hours).The Aviator and Senior Aviator Badges were approved on 27 July 1950 and the Master Aviator Badge was approved on 12 February 1957.
The aviator badge currently used in the Navy has remained virtually unchanged since it was first issued on 13 November 1917. The Naval Aviator Badge is earned by all U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard pilots upon graduation from advanced flight training. Additional aviator badges exist for Naval Flight Officers (USN & USMC), Naval Flight Surgeons, Naval Aviation Physiologists, Naval Flight Nurses, Naval Aviation Observers (USN & USMC) and enlisted Naval Aircrewman (USN, USMC & USCG). Naval Aviators' badges are gold in color. Unlike the Air Force and the Army, the naval services do not employ senior or command/master aeronautical ratings.
The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps Aviator Insignia is a gold-colored pin, winged, with a central device consisting of a fouled anchor surcharged with a NOAA Corps device. NOAA Corps officer pilots and navigators may wear the NOAA aviator insignia after authorization by the Director of the NOAA Corps.
With the dawn of the Space Age, all of the United States Aviator badges are upgradable to the Astronaut Badge, for those military members who become astronauts.
A flight surgeon is a military medical officer practicing in the clinical field of aviation medicine. Although the term "flight surgery" is considered improper by purists, it may occasionally be encountered.
The United States Astronaut Badge is a badge of the United States, awarded to military and civilian personnel who have completed training and performed a successful spaceflight. A variation of the astronaut badge is also issued to civilians who are employed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as specialists on spaceflight missions. It is the least-awarded qualification badge of the United States military.
An aviator badge is an insignia used in most of the world's militaries to designate those who have received training and qualification in military aviation. Also known as a Pilot's Badge, or Pilot Wings, the Aviator Badge was first conceived to recognize the training that military aviators receive, as well as provide a means to outwardly differentiate between military pilots and the “foot soldiers” of the regular ground forces.
The diver insignia are qualification badges of the uniformed services of the United States which are awarded to servicemen qualified as divers. Originally, the diver insignia was a cloth patch decoration worn by United States Navy divers in the upper-portion of the enlisted service uniform's left sleeve during the first part of World War II, when the rating insignia was worn on the right sleeve. When enlisted rating insignia were shifted to the left sleeve in late World War II, the patch shifted to the upper right sleeve. The diving patch was created during World War II, and became a breast insignia in the late 1960s.
The Flight Meteorologist insignia is a military badge decoration of the United States Navy which is issued to officers of the Restricted Line who are commissioned as weather and meteorology specialists. To be issued the insignia, an officer must also have completed flight training to qualify as a Naval Aircrew Member. The insignia itself is very similar to the Naval Aircrew Badge.
The Observer Badge is a military badge of the United States armed forces dating from the First World War. The badge was issued to co-pilots, navigators, and flight support personnel who had received a variation in the training required for the standard Pilot's Badge. The Observer Badge survived through the Second World War and into the 1950s, at which time the concept of an Observer Badge was phased out in favor of the modern Aircrew Badge and Navigator-Observer Badges. In addition to wings for Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers, the United States Navy still maintains an "Observer Badge" which is issued to flight-qualified mission specialists, such as a select number of meteorologists and intelligence officers in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The U.S. Air Force awards its USAF Observer Badge, which is identical to the USAF Navigator Badge, to Air Force officers who have qualified as NASA Space Shuttle Mission Specialists, have flown an actual mission aboard the shuttle and/or the International Space Station and who are otherwise not previously aeronautically rated as an Air Force pilot or navigator.
The Navigator Badge is a military qualification badge of the United States Air Force which was first created during the Second World War. The current USAF badge is designated by Air Force Instructions as the Navigator/Observer Badge and is issued to rated officers in both rating categories. In 2009, it was renamed as the Combat Systems Officer badge.
The Flight Surgeon Badge is a military badge of the United States Armed Forces which has existed to designate Flight Surgeons since the Second World War.
Insignias and badges of the United States Navy are military badges issued by the United States Department of the Navy to naval service members who achieve certain qualifications and accomplishments while serving on both active and reserve duty in the United States Navy. Most naval aviation insignia are also permitted for wear on uniforms of the United States Marine Corps.
Insignia and badges of the United States Marine Corps are military "badges" issued by the United States Department of the Navy to Marines who achieve certain qualifications and accomplishments while serving on both active and reserve duty in the United States Marine Corps.
The Aircrew Badge, commonly known as Wings, is a qualification badge of the United States military that is awarded by all five branches of armed services to personnel who serve as aircrew members on board military aircraft. The badge is intended to recognize the training and qualifications required by aircrew of military aircraft. In order to qualify as an aircrew member and receive the Aircrew Badge, such personnel typically undergo advanced training in aircraft in-flight support roles.
A naval aviator is a commissioned officer or warrant officer qualified as a crewed aircraft pilot in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps. United States Coast Guard crewed aircraft pilots are officially designated as "Coast Guard aviators", although they complete the same undergraduate flight training as Navy and Marine Corps crewed aircraft pilots, and are awarded the same aviation breast insignia.
A Weapon Systems Officer (WSO), nicknamed "Wizzo", is an air flight officer directly involved in all air operations and weapon systems of a military aircraft.
In the United States Armed Forces, the ranks of warrant officer are rated as officers above all non-commissioned officers, candidates, cadets, and midshipmen, but subordinate to the lowest officer grade of O‑1. This application differs from the Commonwealth of Nations and other militaries, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks, equivalent to the U.S. Armed Forces grades of E‑8 and E‑9.
U.S. Air Force aeronautical ratings are military aviation skill standards established and awarded by the United States Air Force for commissioned officers participating in "regular and frequent flight", either aerially or in space, in performance of their duties. USAF aeronautical badges, commonly referred to as "wings" from their shape and their historical legacy, are awarded by the Air Force in recognition of degrees of achievement and experience. Officers earning these badges and maintaining their requirements are classified as rated officers and receive additional pay and allowances.
Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), also known as the "Rough Raiders", is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The "Rough Raiders" are a Fleet Replacement Squadron flying the F-35C Lightning II.
The "G-1" military flight jacket is the commonly accepted name for the fur-lined-collar World War II-era leather flight jacket of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. A similar jacket used by the United States Army Air Corps/United States Army Air Forces was usually called the A-2 jacket.
The Flying / Aviation Cadet Pilot Training Program was originally created by the U.S. Army to train its pilots. Originally created in 1907 by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, it expanded as the Army's air assets increased. Candidates originally had to be between the ages of 19 and 25, athletic, and honest. Two years of college or three years of a scientific or technical education were required. Cadets were supposed to be unmarried and pledged not to marry during training. From 1907 to 1920, pilot officers were considered part of the Signal Corps or the Signal Officer Reserve Corps. After 1920, they were considered part of their own separate organization, the U.S. Army Air Service (1918–1926).
The US Navy had four programs for the training of naval aviators.
In the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, captain is the senior-most commissioned officer rank below that of flag officer. The equivalent rank is colonel in the United States Army, Air Force, Space Force, and Marine Corps.