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Trail-Blazers in the Sky
One by one, the ten JN-4 "Jennies" dropped out of cloud-laden skies at the end of a trail-blazing cross-country flight. The date was November 19, 1916 and these pioneer aviators, members of New York's 1st Aero Company, had just completed an historic roundtrip from Mineola, N.Y., to Princeton, New Jersey. The flight, hailed by the press as "the largest number ever seen on one flight in this country," was the first mass cross-country flight in U.S. military aviation. The first leg of the historic flight was launched on Saturday, November 18, with a rendezvous of twelve airplanes over Governor's Island, New York. The flight leader, an airman destined to be one of the great names in World War I aviation-Captain (later Colonel) Raynal Cawthorne Bolling, formed the aero unit in 1915. Navigating by familiar landmarks on the roads and fields, the adventuresome National Guard pilots (two aircraft piloted by civilian trainees flew only the first leg), made the return trip on Sunday, November 19, a cold and overcast day. Truly a pioneer in militia aviation, the 1st Aero Company was the first ever to be called into Federal service, in June 1916. A year later most of its members were flying combat missions in France. But the first formation cross-country flight, a pioneer accomplishment soon to be eclipsed by the great strides in aviation, nevertheless set the stage for the accomplishments of the Air National Guard in the years to come.
Copyright Notice

Images of these paintings may also be used for educational purposes with an appropriate permission statement, such as: "[name of painting], a National Guard Heritage Painting by [name of artist], courtesy the National Guard Bureau." The U.S. Government retains all copyrights to these paintings. No commercial use is authorized without prior approval.