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Lt. Col. Edgar Allen “Pete” Goff Jr., USAF, Retired

Edgar Allen Goff


Lt. Col. Edgar Allen "Pete" Goff Jr. was born in Battle Creek, Michigan in December of 1896. While attending Battle Creek High School in 1911, he and his friends built a gilder which flew to a height of 20 feet in 1912. They later built and flew a powered aircraft in 1915. While these early flights qualified Pete as a member of the "Early Birds," a fraternity of aviators who flew solo prior to December 17, 1916, they prevented him from completing his school work. His high school diploma was award three decades later.

He enlisted in the Army and earned his pilot's wings as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1919. After World War I, he formed and operated the Battle Creek Air Service from 1919 to 1920, managed the Michigan Aero Service Corp. selling aircraft from 1920 to 1923, and barnstormed promoting aviation in Michigan including the fist Battle Creek Air Races in 1925. When the city built an airport, W.K. Kellogg Field in 1932, he was named its manager. By 1936, he had over 8,000 hours in the air. In 1937, he became a Senior Aeronautical Inspector with the Civil Aviation Administration (the predecessor of the FAA). In World War II he was recalled to duty as Navigation/Briefing Officer of the Air Transport Command, China, Burma, India, flying and charting the "Hump" routes into China. As a Major, he was decorated for producing "The Pilot's Handbook," which was praised widely as an invaluable flyer's navigational aide.

Between World War II and the Korean War, Pete served with the VIP Squadron responsible for the President's aircraft and as Commanding Officer of the USAF Aeronautical Chart Service. The Korean War saw him coordinating military support to the Far East with Military Air Transport Service.

His last USAF assignment was with the Flight Service Center, Wright Patterson AFB during which, at the age of 59, he qualified in jet aircraft. Pete retired a Lieutenant Colonel in 1957 as the sole remaining member of the Early Birds still on active duty and flight status. He passed away in February, 1989, at the age of 92.

Edgar Allen "Pete" Goff Jr. was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 7, 2000 as a pioneer in aviation, setting the standards for future aviation developments.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program