|Ennis Whitehead was born September 3, 1895.
Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead, Ca. 1926
He was known by his troops as "Ennis the Menace," enlisted in the Army in 1917 and became one of the pioneers in American airpower. He is credited in part with many of the innovations of modern airpower including skipbombing, parachute bombs, nose cannons in medium bombers and the use of mass troop transports.
In the 1920s, he was involved with military air racing. He took 8th place in 1922 Pulitzer Race, and 4th place in the 1924 Mitchell Trophy Race.
Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead landed at Tucson Sunday, September 1, 1929. He was solo in Douglas O-2H, 29-158. Based at Dayton, OH, Wright Field, he was eastbound from San Diego, CA to Dayton. He gave no reason in the Register for his flight through Tucson.
His flying career brushed those of other Register pilots as he moved through the years. For example, along with Dutch Shankle, he participated in Billy Mitchell's bombing tests against the Ostfriesland in 1921.
Capt. Ennis C. Whitehead, Date Unknown
Photograph, above, from his NASM file taken just after his participation in the Pan-American Goodwill Flight that began December 21, 1926. He served as copilot on the Loening OA-1A amphibian New York during the goodwill flight from San Antonio, TX to Buenos Aires, Argentina that ended five months later on May 2, 1927 in Washington, DC. The flight is summarized at the link above, complete with names of the aircraft, their pilots and the homecoming.
His New York was one of five Loening observation amphibian aircraft. The approximate route of their Pan-American flight was from the mainland U.S., down Central America and south along the west coast of South America, then return to the U.S. up the east coast of South America.
The five aircraft flew together. They were staffed with a Who's Who of Davis-Monthan Register pilots, including Whitehead, A.B. McDaniel, Ira Eaker, Bernard Thompson and Leonard D. Weddington. A photograph of Eaker's Loening, the San Francisco is at his biography page.
Their flight was not without mishaps. Two of their fellow pilots were killed on February 26,1927 when their aircraft, the Detroit, crashed after colliding with the New York near Palomar military airfield west of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Whitehead and his pilot, Major Herbert A. Dargue, safely parachuted from their doomed aircraft.
Each participant received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the team was presented with the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of 1926. Interestingly, Lindbergh flew the Atlantic about three weeks later. It was a heady time in aviation. The photograph, above, from the National Archives, shows Captain Whitehead standing in front of a hangar. Date and location unknown, but probably sometime during the 1930s.
Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is another of the Loening amphibians, the San Antonio, that was flown by Capt. Arthur McDaniel (probably a Register pilot) and Lt. Charles Robinson (not a Register pilot). The individual sitting on the port wheel is unidentified, as are the aircraft in the background.
Loening OA-1 Amphibian, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Brigadier General Ennis C. Whithead, New Guinea, 1943
During WWII, as Lieut. General, Whitehead was one of MacArthur's top airmen, being effective in planning and executing (with the Royal Australian Air Force) what became known as the definitive Battle of the Bismark Sea. Later, he was boss of U.S. air defense from 1949 until he retired during the summer of 1951. His career path in the Pacific during WWII brushed those of Register pilots Victor E. Bertrandias and George Brett, who also worked for MacArthur.
Public domain image, left, from this source. The caption reads: "BUNA, NEW GUINEA. C. 1943. BRIGADIER GENERAL ENNIS C. WHITEHEAD [front and center], COMMANDING GENERAL ALLIED AIR FORCE IN NEW GUINEA, WITH AIR COMMODORE J. E. HEWITT, AIR OFFICER COMMANDING RAAF IN NEW GUINEA, ON PARADE FOR THE DECORATION OF FOUR RAAF OFFICERS 'FOR SERVICES RENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES'."
Whitehead has been the topic of at least one Ph.D. Thesis, summarized at this link. This thesis provides insight into his strengths as well as his weaknesses. Whitehead died in 1963.
As of the upload date of this page, there were about 550 Google hits for "Ennis C. Whitehead". Some of them were for our Register pilot. Some were for his son and grandson, both of whom also served as General Officers in the military. Whitehead died October 12, 1964.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 02/10/09 REVISED: 03/25/09, 12/07/14