The Squadron Leader stands before a map to explain the upcoming mission to his fellow pilots. The circle at the lower left is pinned into the map at the location of their base. The string is stretched taut, crossing over the mission target. The outbound magnetic heading is read off the circular compass at the lower left. Holding onto the string where it crosses over the target, it can then be swung downward to the fixed range scale at the bottom of the map to determine the distance. These two values, heading and distance, are the key numbers with which the pilots will navigate to their target. In principle, a 535 mile outbound leg should take 1 hr and 58 minutes. In practice, adjustments had to be made for the effects of wind, making navigation (especially over water without landmarks) a risky affair.
The photos below show the original SQUADRON LEADER as it was completed in clay. The next step in the process required taking a mold from the clay. That process was done immediately following these photos, destroying the original clay. Now the sculpture exists as part of the completed monument in bronze.
When Robin Olds arrived at the U.S. Air Force Academy to be our new Commandant, he asked for a show of hands of cadets in the audience who were 23 years old. Some hands went up. He then advised us that, at age 23, he had been a fighter squadron commander…and oldest man left alive in his squadron.
Amazing, isn’t it? We can scarcely imagine the reality that WWII was fought by such young men. A far cry from the professional career war-fighters who defend our country now. “Teenager” represents the vast number of servicemen who hadn’t even reached their 20’s before entering combat.