History of Gathering of Eagles

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Gathering of Eagles program is an annual aviation event that traces its origin back to 1980, when retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets was invited to visit the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base to share some of his experiences with the students. General Tibbetts' visit became the genesis for Gathering of Eagles.

The first official Gathering of Eagles, known at the time as, "Great Moments in Aviation History," was held in 1982 when a small faculty and student group was chartered to develop an aviation heritage program. This initial cadre designed a program encouraging the study of aviation history, and the contributions of aviation pioneers.

The first 15 distinguished aviators, or Eagles, were George Vaughn, Leigh Wade, Jimmy Doolittle, Curtis LeMay, George Gay, Joe Foss, John Mitchell, "Chuck" Yeager, Gail Halverson, Paul Tibbets, "Gabby" Gabreski, Robin Olds, Mike Novosel, "Pete" Knight and Neil Armstrong, and they spanned aviation history from World War I to the Space Age. The Eagles were invited to share their unique personal experiences through a series of teaching interviews and social events with members of the class. These legendary figures were a diverse group from many nations and services.

Eagles who were to follow the first group included legendary figures such as "Pappy" Boyington, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., "Robbie" Risner, George Bush, John Glenn, Joe Engle, Jeremiah Denton, and George "Bud" Day.

The mission of the Air University Spaatz Center for Officer Education's Air Command and Staff College, the Air Force's intermediate professional military education school, is to prepare field-grade officers to develop, employ and command air, space and cyberspace power in joint, combined and multinational operations. The college is geared toward teaching the skills necessary for leadership, command and air and space operations in support of a joint campaign, and ACSC focuses on shaping and molding tomorrow's leaders and commanders.

ACSC traces its roots to the Air Corps Tactical School located at Maxwell Field from 1931 to 1942. The vision of pre-World War II leaders has withstood the test of time, and although almost eight decades have passed since the founding of the ACTS, the present 10-month curriculum still focuses on expanding the understanding of air and space power and on the growth of midcareer officers. In 1962, the school became known by its current name, Air Command and Staff College.

Information courtesy of the Gathering of Eagles Web site, www.au.af.mil/au/goe.