Henry H Arnold got an appointment as Second Lieutenant in the 29th infantry. He first served in the Philippines and later in New York for four years.
In 1911, he went to Dayton, Ohio for pilot training course with the Wright brothers.
Upon completion of the course in July 1911, he received Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) pilot certificate No. 29. The following year, he got the Military Aviator Certificate No. 2.
In 1911 itself, he was sent to College Park, Maryland to teach flying at Aeronautical Division of Signal Corps.
He created numerous records during this time including world's new altitude record of 6,540 feet in 1912. He became the first pilot to carry mail by flight; to fly over the US Capitol and carry a United States Congressman as a passenger.
In October 1912, he won the first Mackay Trophy when he made a reconnaissance flight under simulated combat condition. He also became the pioneer in using a radio for correcting artillery fire.
After almost a disastrous flight in November 1912, he developed a phobia of flying and took up desk duty in Washington DC and later at Thirteenth Infantry in Philippines.
In May 1916, while working for the Signal Corps' Aviation School in San Diego, he began flying again gradually. By December 1916, he conquered his fear and resumed flying.
In 1917, when the US entered the First World War, he was posted in Washington and served in various capacities here - as officer in charge of the Information Division and as assistant executive officer of the Aeronautical Division. He also became the youngest full colonel in the army.
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In his position, Henry H Arnold monitored the development and production of aircraft, construction of flying fields as well as recruitment and training of flying personnel.
After the armistice, he reverted to the post of major. In 1922, as a base commander of Rockwell Field, he backed aerial refuelling experiments.
In 1924, he studied at the Army Industrial College. The next year, he became the chief of Information division of the Air Service in Washington DC and worked closely with Billy Mitchell who was an apostle of strategic air power.
When even after Mitchell’s court martial, Arnold continued to promote his views, he was transferred to Ft. Riley in 1926.
In 1928, he returned to do a year-long course from Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth.
In 1930, he commanded the Fairfield Air Service Depot, Ohio and in 1931, took up the post of commander of March Field, California as lieutenant colonel.
He used the opportunity to conduct manoeuvres and exercises with bombers and fighters in different regions of the country to acquire experience in supply, operations and command. He also endeavoured to create bonds with a number of Hollywood personalities as well as leaders of aviation industry.
In 1934, he bagged his second Mackay Trophy by conducting the successful roundtrip flight of ten Martin B-10B bombers from Washington to Fairbanks, Alaska.
In February 1935, he took charge of newly created 1st Wing, General Headquarters Air Force as temporary brigadier general. Here, he supported the development of B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator along with crew training for precision bombing.
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In December 1936, Henry H Arnold assumed the position of assistant chief of the Air Corps.
In September 1938, after his superior, Oscar M. Westover, was killed in an air crash, Arnold was appointed the chief of Air Corps with the rank of major general.
In his position, he called for the expansion of the Army Air Corp and backed the R&D efforts.
In 1941, United States Army Air Forces was created with Arnold as its chief. After the US entered the Second World War, he became the lieutenant general.
In 1942, AAF was given full autonomy and Arnold became its commanding general. He also became an ex officio member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
In March 1943, he was appointed as full General and in December the following year he became a five-star General of the Army.
In 1945, he worked to establish Project RAND with an aim to combine R&D and military planning.
In February 1946, owing to health reasons, he retired from AAF and went to stay in a Ranch near Sonoma, California.
To strengthen his family’s financial security, he entered into a contract with Harper & Brothers to write his autobiography ‘Global Mission’.
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In May 1949, he was given the rank of General of the Air Force by the U.S. Congress.
During his career, he wrote and co-wrote a number of books including ‘Bill Bruce Series’ (6 books), ‘This Flying Game’, ‘Winged Victory’ and ‘Army Flyer’.
At the time the Second World War broke out, Henry H Arnold was in charge of the AAF. He spearheaded its massive expansion and transformed the organization from 22,000 men and 3,900 aircraft to nearly 2,500,000 men and 75,000 aircraft.
As the head of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he played a key role in planning and implementing strategies that led to the victory of the Allied forces in the Second World War.
He advocated the cause of military air power for over forty years. It eventually happened when in September 1947, U.S. Air Force was formed. In 1949, he was appointed the first and only General of the Air Force, a five star rank. In fact, he is the only one to hold a five star rank in two different U.S. military services (army and air force).