Soaring through a legacy of aviation
By Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 06, 2018
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Many military members serve their country in an attempt to better themselves or carry on a family legacy, but few Airmen have as many and as impressive aviation milestones to aspire to as retired Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Foulois, great-nephew of the late retired Maj. Gen. Benjamin Foulois.
Kevin, who found out about his uncle’s legacy later in his career, followed in his great uncle’s footsteps for more than 25 years in active duty military, carrying the legacy into the wild blue yonder.
Benjamin accomplished many things in his career, not only as an enlisted soldier, but as a commissioned officer as well.
During his time, Benjamin developed military maps of Cuba and was one of the first three officers in the U.S. Army to operate the first military airplane purchased from the Wright Brothers in 1909.
Leading the way in aviation, Benjamin accompanied Orville Wright on the final trial flight from Fort Myer to Alexandria, Virginia, breaking the speed, altitude and duration cross-country world records.
To go with his world records, Benjamin was the first military man to teach himself to fly, the first to fly more than 100 miles non-stop and the first to use a fixed-wing aircraft in a combat operation along with many other achievements.
Benjamin’s accomplishments throughout his career helped pave the way for the future of the U.S. armed forces as well as his legacy.
“His contributions to the legacy stems from his time with the Wright Brothers to today,” said Kevin. “He’s credited with putting wheels and seatbelts on the airplane ... he was very innovative.”
Kevin received the opportunity to visit to numerous 20th Fighter Wing and 50th Attack Squadron facilities, Nov. 2, and see the evolution of the airpower his uncle contributed to firsthand.
“I received the opportunity to go out and see all the sections throughout the units,” said Kevin. “It gave me the chance to talk to the Airmen and see how everything has changed in the last 30 years.”
During the visit Kevin viewed the Air Force’s premier suppression of enemy air defenses fighter jet, the F-16CM Fighting Falcon.
“We are honored to showcase the mission of the 20th FW and the newly implanted remotely piloted aircraft mission to Foulois,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher, 50th ATKS superintendent. “The tour provided us the opportunity to display our advanced combat capabilities while connecting our Airmen with the history and heritage he shared with us today.”