Wilson Edward - Honored 2001.
Colonel Wilson V. “Bill” Edwards has had a long and varied flying career spanning 70 years. He was born in Los Angeles in 1918, but to our benefit has been a productive Coloradoan since 1955. He had is first flight at age 11 and soloed at age 16 at Wichita, Kansas. He attended high school in Arizona, flying vintage aircraft and earned his first “official” pilots license through the CPT program flying 45 hp Luscombes.
He then applied to the USAAF but was turned down because of two missing molars. Knowing that Britain was at war, he applied to the RAF, was readily accepted and was shipped to Tulsa's Spartan School for RAF training. Upon graduation, he was sent to an OTU in England flying Hurricanes and Spitfires. He was assigned to the 133 Squadron, last of the famed “Eagle Squadrons.” He flew convoy escort duty out of Northern Ireland and delivered all types of British aircraft to and from operational units.
By September, 1942, Lt. Edwards joined the USAAF along with most other Eagle Squadron pilots who wore the wings of both the RAF and USAAF. Assigned to the 8th Air Force Fighter Command, Bill’s job was to insure that newly arriving fighter units received first hand information on British navigating systems, aircraft, maps etc. As a Major, Bill commanded the first P-51 / P-38 OTU in England providing intensive flying in all combat and weather conditions. In June, 1944, Major Edwards was assigned with his Eagle Squadron friends to the Fourth Fighter Group flying P-51Ds escorting bombers on deep missions into Germany. During one escort mission to Munich, Bill's Mustang was hit by German “88 flack” and downed near the French and German border. Bill spent the remainder of the war as a POW at Stalag Luft I, Barth, Germany.
After the war , Bill had a series of command and leadership positions with both the Air Training Command and Air Defense Command, including Ent/Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, plus overseas assignments in France, Italy and Germany. Lt. Colonel Edwards retired from the Air Force in 1968 after twenty-six years of exemplary service.
Following retirement, Bill obtained his civilian flight instructor ratings at the Peterson AFB Aero Club and has been an active instructor at all levels in Southern Colorado ever since. Currently, Bill is an instructor at Meadow Lake Airport, teaching Air Force Lieutenants in the Air Force 50 hour Introductory Flight Training / IFT Program. His records include a 100% passing rate for all of his flight students.
As an early member and current president of the Eagle Squadron Association, Bill was responsible for the Association choosing the USAF Academy Library as their official archive and depository of their papers, log books, photos etc. Because of Wilson Edwards, Colorado is the home of this chapter of WW 11 aviation history. Current and future air cadets and researchers will have access to the log books, countless photographs and records from this chapter of our aviation heritage.
Wilson V. Edwards has been and continues to be a credit to aviation and to the State of Colorado.
Mr. Edwards passed away August 7, 2009.