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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Test Pilots USA Air Corps


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I am trying to learn more about my grandfather's time in Orly (Sur Sein) as a pilot and test pilot.  I thought I had his squadron, but I can't put my fingers on it quite yet.  Waiting for more details from my uncle's papers (which I should have in a few days).  His name was Selwyn C. Woodard from Illinois.  Born 1888.  Below are a few photographs from his scrapbook (I believe one may be of Eddie Rickenbacker, which makes sense as he was a true celebrity and likely fliers would want a photo of him.)  Also attached is grandfather's re-enlistment request which contains the dates and location of his service in the Great War.

I realize that test pilots typically worked out of McCook Air Field, but that program was set up mostly after the war.  

Did line pilots also act as test pilots prior to the McCook program?

I also think he might have flown recon missions.  I know he was shot down over enemy lines once and hidden by a deaf monk for 6 or 8 weeks. I believe recon was quite dangerous given the altitudes at which they were required to fly in order to photograph.  I base the recon guess on the aircraft he is standing next to in one of the photos.  Does this make sense?

Thank you for helping in piecing together a story.







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Not sure it helps you at all, but I think the aircraft in the first photo is a SPAD of some kind, and the last photo is a Sopwith Camel - note the ejector chute in the pic below sticking out of the ovoid panel, and compare with your pic.


uite what the middle one is with the cheesegrater cowlinnng I'm afrain I don't know, sorry!

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Was Selwyn any relation to Granville Woodard (who was a member of the 95 Pursuit (fighter) Squadron (who was made POW)

I do not see him listed in Sloan's "Wings of Honor" which attempts to be a listing of all WWI US pilots (although Granville Woodard is listed)

Here is an online Bio - doesn't add much to what you already have about his service:

content?id=BUci9hdxdL8C&pg=PA334&img=1&zhttps://books.google.com/books?id=BUci9hdxdL8C&lpg=PA334&ots=NanNQhjOxH&dq=selwyn c woodard rockford IL WWI&pg=PA334#v=onepage&q=selwyn c woodard rockford IL WWI&f=false

I have researched an airman from the same general area who flew with the 88th Aero which was equipped with  Salmsons.

And I think the aircraft pictured in the second pic is indeed a Salmson - the image is reversed it should look like this - and you can see that this a/c is marked with TSF Photo (And SALs on the tail rudder)



Edited by 4thGordons
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Strange he makes no claim to any operation service in his letter, to be shot down and escaped?

He appears to have spent the war in Training units

Issoudun June to Aug 1918

Orly sur Sein Aug to Nov 1918

If sent to get some operational expirence he would have mentioned attached to a unit for such an operation, but does not?

A check of his service record in the US would confirm, as there pretty good at records of their service personal.

The story maybe mixed up with the other bloke by someone?

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