Kenneth O. Chilstrom

Picture of Kenneth Chilstrom KENNETH O. CHILSTROM, COLONEL,(USAF, Ret.) My interest in flying started with the building of rubber band models which led to the first gasoline powered model airplane on the west side of Chicago. Anxious to get in aviation after high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois, on 15 June 1939.

After attending the aircraft mechanics course and becoming an instructor, the yearn to fly was realized when the Air Corps began to expand from a force of only 22,000 officers and men.

Pilots wings and a commission occurred in Class 42I at Lake Charles, La., in October 1942 with the first assignment in P-40's to guard the Capitol at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. In February 1943, flying new P-40's from the deck of the carrier USS Ranger, the 58th Group landed near Casablanca, North Africa.

The P-40's were needed to replace losses in Tunisa so I joined the 27th Fighter Bomber GP to fly 80 missions in the A-36 over Pantelleria, Sicily and Italy, and received a DFC and Air Medal with 8 clusters.

Returning to the States provided an assignment to the Flight Test Section which then permitted flying the P-47 Jug. Flight testing during the years' 44 to '47, included flying the P-47B, C, D, N, M models including the XP-47E (pressurized cockpit) and the XP-47J (World's fastest propeller plane).

During this period many trips were made to Republic Aircraft where associations were made with Brabam, Ballin- ger, Roth and other company test pilots. Flying the P-4 7N model in performance tests sometimes provided over 100 hour'a month in flights lasting over 10 hours. The Jug with its Pratt & Whitney R2800 engine was a favorite among all of us for its reliability and ruggedness. This in spite of two engine fail- ures with one dead stick landing into Wright Field. A highlight of my Jug flying was a chance at setting a transcontinental record in the P-4 7N on June 7, 1945. Major Johnston and myself took from Mines Field (L.A. Airport) with a flight plan of 5 hours, 15 minutes to New York. Unfortunately the combination of bad weather, no communications, and a serious oil leak forced our landing at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, instead of New York.

Test flying at Wright Field provided the highlights of my flying days. After completing test pilot training in Performance and Stability & Control courses there were many challenging assignments such as the project pilot on the XP-86. WW II produced many X, Y and production model aircraft and we had them all at Wright Field.

Included were over 20 foreign models of German and Japanese fighters and bombers. I flew them all from rate of roll tests in the FW 190 to perform- ance in the ME262, the Jap Zero, Hamp, John, Nick.

Other flying opportunities included the first exchange program with the Navy and the chance to get 50 landings in F8F2's aboard the USS Leyte - straight deck/Essex Class. This was followed by being a Technical Advisor for Warner Bros. on "Chain Lightning" where Humphrey Bogart was the chief test pilot. Then an exchange test pilot tour with the RAF permitted flying 25 different British aircraft in 2 months.

About this time the Korean engagement started and I was assigned as Fighter Requirements officer in HQ FEAF for 2 1/2 years. Hoping to return to Wright Field but reassigned to a Pentagon tour where my fighter association continued when I was the R&D staff officer on the F-100, F-105, F-107, and V/STOL aircraft. Then back to Dayton after a promotion to Colonel and to be the F-108 Project Officer. All efforts to keep the program going ended when General LeMay opted to save the XB-70 at the expense of the F-108. Other challenges came with the start of the YF /SR71 program and I could claim I had a helping hand.

A reassignment to HQ AFSC for 3 years prior to retirement in January 1964 after 25 years. The last chapter includes working with G.E., Boeing/Vertol, Science Applications,and now with Pratt & Whitney, Government Products Division. A plug for P&W is that I am glad to be with the maker of the Jug R2800 and now the best engine in the world - FI00 in F-15 and F-16. Come and see us in Palm Beach, Florida - anytime.

List of all P47 Pilots:
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Pilot Name Biography Summary
John Abbotts P-47 transition followed at Pocatello, Idaho and Greenville, Texas after which he was assigned to the 56th Fighter Group in England. When the news of his arrival reached Berlin, Hitler retired to his bunker with his cyanide capsule and revolver. Eva found the news equally depressing.
Asa A. Adair He returned to the States in August of 1944 after participating in the invasion "D" Day. He flew P-63's, P-51's, F-80's, T-33's, F-84's, T-38's, P-47's in numerous assignments during the following twenty years in in, Japan, U.S.A. and Europe before retiring after twenty-six years of Active Duty.
Edward B. Addison The 507th Fighter Group, equipped with P-47N's, won the Presidential Unit Citation for destroying 32 Japanese aircraft in the air on one mission to Seoul, Korea. The average flying time for raids to Korea and Japan would be 7 to 9 hours flying time. In a total of 31 months, the 507th not only provided top cover for B-29's, but also dive-bombed, napalm-bombed and flew low-level on strafing missions.
Levon B. Agha-Zarian It is rumored that he, took his primary training on a flying rug. He flew Spits, briefly, in England, but as the, war moved to the East, he was sent to India as a Sgt. Pilot and first saw action from Ceylon, flying the Curtiss P.36, the Brewster Buffalo, and the Hurricane. At this point he might have opted for the rug! This was at the time of the fall of Singapore and the sinking of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse.
George N. Ahles Posted to A-20 light bomber squadron Barksdale Field, Louisiana. . Group moved to Hunter Air Base Savannah, Georgia. Qualified for Pilot training November 1940. Entered Aviation Cadets January 1942. Presented wings November 1942 class of 42-J. Married Mary Louise while in Advanced Pilot Training at Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama, September 1942.
Roy J. Aldritt Shortly after the group moved to France he ran into some unseen flak and was forced to make a nylon descent behind the lines; some evasion and a lot of luck had him back with his unit in 24 hours.
Eugene J. Amaral After graduation from Stonington High School he enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in December 1942 and was called to active duty in March, 1943. He received his wings and commission at Spence Field, Georgia as a member of the Class of 43-C.
Talmadge L. Ambrose Flew 84 missions thru VE Day, was downed by 22mm ground fire over Siefried Line. He destroyed 11 enemy aircraft, 9 known confirmed in air and on ground, including 4 FW 190-D's in one afternoon over Hanover, Germany, April 8, 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, 17 man, Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Pacific Theatre and European Theatre Meda1s with 5 Battle Stars and Unit Citation Medal.
John C. Anderson After P-47 transition he was assigned to the 406th Fighter Group, 512th Fighter Squadron. (E.T .0.) He flew 56 missions through January, 1945 destroying supply routes, bridges, and railroads; he also flew close support missions with the ground forces, with attacks on tanks, artillery and enemy positions.
William Anderson It was not always flak,two ME-109's beat the hell out of me one day. The central controller called me and said "Basher-Red Leader do you have contact Bandits," I replied, "I sure do, I'll bring them over the field in 3 minutes, they're chasing me home." Got all the usual medals including two Belgium and two French but one I'm most proud of is the Silver Star -it is the greatest.
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