Lunchtime Lecture (London): Cobras, Hawks and WASPs: A History of Napier Field, Alabama 1941-1945

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Lunchtime Lecture (London): Cobras, Hawks and WASPs: A History of Napier Field, Alabama 1941-1945

By RAF Museum

On Thursday 16th May 2024 at 12pm, Colonel (Retired) Jayson A. Altieri will look at the history of Napier Airfield in Alabama. This lecture will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum's London site, and will be live-streamed via Crowdcast.

Talk Outline
“Cobras, Hawks, and WASPs: A History of Napier Field, Alabama 1941-1945,” is a survey that examines the roles and contributions of this US Army Air Forces training centre as it relates to American Second World War national security strategy. First, the paper examines diplomatically, the training of both Royal Air Force and Fuerza Aérea Mexicana pilots which was an extension of the Roosevelt administration’s Latin American Good Neighbour and global United Nations policies designed to help defeat German and Japanese expansionism. These efforts were part of the greater movement to create a post-war security environment that led to the signing of the United Nations treaty 1945. Second, the information value of seeing women serving in the Women’s Air Service Pilots was but one step in the broader women’s civil rights movement. Like their “Rosie-the-Riveters” contemporaries who had taken on men’s traditional work roles, the sight of women flying complex aircraft had a tremendous impact on encouraging others of their gender to pursue careers in aviation in the post-war world. Third, the military value of training American, British, and Mexican pilots together at Napier Field was a precursor to the Coalition Partner type aviation training used to today by the Department of Defence’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation still conducted at places like Fort Rucker, Alabama. Finally, the economic value of Napier Field’s construction in an area heavily dependent on agriculture, helped diversify the region economically and would serve as the catalyst for the Dothan area entering the Jet Age when the former Napier Field became Dothan Regional Airport. The legacy of Napier Field and the men and women who served there should be remembered, not only for the historical value, but also how aviation can help bring about global change in the diplomatic, informational, military, and economic communities.

About COL (Ret) Jayson A. Altieri
Jayson A. Altieri is an Assistant Professor of Leadership and Director of Outreach at the Leadership and Innovation Institute, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Prior to working at the Air University, Jayson served in several national security positions at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Bethesda, Maryland; NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, and the National War College, Washington, D.C. In addition to his academic duties, he serves as the Chairman of the College of Liberal Arts, Board of Fellows, Norwich University, Vermont. Jayson is an award-winning author of several books and featured magazine articles and was the winner of the 2020 Best Air and Space Power History Article Award with his submission “Government Girls: Crowdsourcing Combat Aircraft in World War II”. He is an Assistant Curator at the First White House of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama, and his current book project, entitled A Guest of Mr. Lincoln: The Wartime Service of Sergeant Joseph H. Wheeless, Confederate States Army, will be published in late 2024. Jayson’s article, “Cobras, Hawks, and WASPs” originally appeared in the Air Power History, Winter 2018 magazine edition and will appear as a reprint later this year the U.S. Army’s Aviation Digest magazine.

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