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Brigadier General William 'Billy' Mitchell (1879-1936), pilot and aviation and aerial bombing advocate, joined the army as a private and, by the Spanish-American War was the youngest lieutenant involved in the operation. Mitchell saw service in the Philippines, Cuba, and on the Mexican border, and graduated from the Army School of the Line (1908) and Army Staff College (1909) before serving on the Army General Staff (1913-1916). He held a number of command and staff posts in the Air Service in France during World War I (1917-1919) and first soloed in 1917. After a short period as Director of Military Aeronautics (1919) and Chief of Training and Operations (1920), he became Assistant to the Chief of Air Service (1921-1926). During this period he advocated the creation of an independent Air Service and demonstrated the utility of air power through the famous bomber vs. battleship trials (1921), the group flight to Alaska from the continental US (1923), and Army's Around the World Flight (1924). Unfortunately, Mitchell's public criticism of government policies, in defiance of Army regulations, resulted in his court martial for conduct prejudicial of 'good order and military discipline' and insubordination in October-December 1925. Found guilty and suspended for five years, Mitchell resigned his commission in January 1926. He continued to promote aviation and decry government inefficiencies until his death.




Mitchell, William, 1879-1936



bulk 1935-1926


William H. Webb, gift, 1973, XXXX-0082, unknown


2.18 Cubic feet ((2 records center boxes))


No restrictions on access


Collection descriptions

Archival materials


Press releases

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of documents relating to Mitchell's court martial in 1925. The material includes charge sheets, testimony, and press releases



Press releases


Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests


Mitchell, William, 1879-1936

Topics Aeronautics, Military
Courts-martial and courts of inquiry
Air pilots
Bombing, Aerial

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

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