Determined to one day “own the sky,” Robert L. Scott, Jr., dreamed of flying from the day he saw his first aircraft. At the age of 12, he attempted to fly a homemade glider from the roof of a three-story house, but cleared only the first tree when the wing snapped and he ended up in a bed of roses. This experience turned out to be the only crash of his flying career. After graduation from West Point in 1932, Scott attended flight training at Randolph Field, Texas. After earning his wings in 1933, he was assigned to fly the 0-1 Falcon. In 1934, when the Army Air Corps took over the troubled airmail delivery, Scott volunteered for this dangerous duty because it promised nearly unlimited flying. For the next 5 months, Scott assigned to the 99th Observation Squadron, regularly traveled the route between Newark and Cleveland.
In October 1934, he married Kitty Rix and 6 months later they were transferred to Panama where he flew the Boeing P-12. Following this tour and one to Randolph Field, he served in WW II. As the war began, he bluffed his way into a classified operation, Task Force Aquila, a follow-up to the Doolittle Raid, using B-17 Flying Fortresses to attack Japan. Scott did not want his crew to know he had never flown the B-17, so he took a solo ride around Wright Field to check himself out. When the classified operation was canceled, Scott volunteered to fly transports over the “Hump” from Burma into China to resupply General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers . Drawing on his previous fighter experience, he convinced Chennault to loan him a P-40 Warhawk to help escort the transports.
In July 1942, Scott assumed command of the 23d Fighter Group, which had been newly formed from the deactivated Flying Tigers. As commander of this prestigious unit, he achieved 13 aerial victories against Japanese aircraft, with 5 more probables. As Group Commander, he scheduled himself for virtually every mission. Finally, Chennault forbade his participation on some missions so he could perform his many other duties. Returning to the States in January 1943 as an Ace, Scott was directed by General “Hap” Arnold to travel nationwide on a public relations tour. It was during this period that he wrote the book God Is My Co-Pilot, which quickly became a wartime best seller and movie.
Following the war Scott served as Commander of Williams Field and the first jet-fighter school located there. In 1951, he became Commander of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Furstenfeldbruck AB, Germany. Brigadier General Scott has amassed some 14,000 hours in military aircraft and has authored 15 books. In 1980 at the age of 72, he fulfilled a 30-year ambition by returning to China and walking on the Great Wall he had flown by during WW II. Scott passed at away on February 27, 2006 at the age of 97. Brigadier General Scott was selected as an inaugural eagle of the Air Command and Staff College’s Gathering of Eagles in 1986, and subsequently honored in 1990 and 1995, respectively.