Member Spotlight

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This is a NEW section of our Chapter's WebSite. A spotlight on one of our members. We want you to get to know us better. This month, our Spotlight falls on.....

Ross and Machell Wheeler


Some past Spotlights:

Jim & Shirley McBurney

Sid & Cathy Brown

The Scukanecs

Land Creson

Ed Christian

Marcus Jakob

Sheila Connell


Col. Phil Colman

There is a grass airstrip just off Dean's Bridge Road, near Blythe, Georgia, that is affectionately known as "The Pea Patch." On any given day, you will find pilots repairing existing planes, building new ones, and restoring gems of Aviation History. Phil Coleman can be found here on most days. He is one of only a handful of DOUBLE ACES recorded, since the United States Military formed Aviation Combat Units. An ACE is officially defined as a Pilots who has logged a minimum of five confirmed enemy aircraft shot down in air-to-air combat, unassisted. The enemy aircraft must be confirmed as destroyed by either photographic record or eyewitness account. The United States has recorded 1,512 documented Aces from the inception of the Air Forces in 1911. Approximately 1000 from World War I, 400 from World War II, 43 from the Korean Conflict, and 3 from the Vietnam Era.

Phil Earned his first ACE designation by shooting down six Japanese aircraft over China, between 1943, and 1945. In 1952, Colman downed four MiG-15's, thereby elevating him to the rare designation and honor of DOUBLE ACE.

Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Phil built model airplanes as a boy. His first airplane ride was arranged by his Boy Scout Leader, who paid for Phil and another friend to go uip in a Waco Biplane.

In 1941, Phil joined the Army Air Corps, (the predecessor to today's U. S. Air Force) Shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Phil was sent to Maxwell Field in Montgomery Alabama, for Aviation Student Training. After that, Phil went to Helena, Arkansas, for Primary Training in Stearman PT-17's Following that with a stint at Bush Field (here in Augusta) for more training in BT-13's and BT-15's. Finally, Phil ended up in Moultrie, Georgia at Spence Field For Advanced Training in AT-6's. Phil graduated from training in October of 1942.

Phil eventually ended up at Eglin Field, Florida. (It has now become Eglin Air Force Base) flying P-38's, P-39's, P-40's, P-47's and P-51's. He also had the controls of several Arrack Bombers, namely A-24's, A-25's, and A-36's.

While at Eglin, Phil and others staged dogfights between American P-40's and a captured Japanese Zero. (It should be noted that all of the fighters Phil flew had only one seat, so all of the in-flight training was done solo.)

In December of 1943, Phil was assigned to the Chinese-American Composite Wing (CACW), which had bases in many locations throughout South-Central and Southwestern China. Peking had been occupied by the Japanese. Gen. Claire Chennault had rescued the Chinese Air Force in the earlier years of WW II, with his famous "Flying Tigers" Chennault had convinced the U.S. to continue its anti-Japanese efforts by flying wing-to-wing with the Chinese Air Forces.

During the last two years of the war, flying P-40's, P-51's and B-25's, the Pilots and Crews of the CACW battered the Japanese from one end of occupied China to the other. Their mission was to paralyze the infrastructure of the Japanese War Machine, and inhibit Japanaese troop movements by destroying cargo caravans, troop transprts, railroads, tunnels, and bridges. By the end of the war, eight pilots were designated as Aces.

Phil returned to civilian life for six years, before returning to active duty, with the Georgia Air National Guard, in early 1951. Trouble was brewing in Korea, and a new era in Aviation Combat was just beginning with the introduction of high-speed jets.

Interested in flying the newest of these jets, Phil finagled a transfer to a Fighter Group that had F-86 Sabres. As the story goes, Phil dumped his real orders into the sea, and reported to the first Unit that had Sabres, claiming to be waiting for his orders to "catch up." On one of the flights with his hew unit, the engine of his F-86 flamed out, on approach to landing. Phil elected to make a deadstick, gear-up landing on nearby railroad tracks. Members of his squadron almost immediately dubbed him "Casey"! (For famous railroad man Casey Jones)

Even today, Phil Colman is a Legend among Georgia Air National Guard Pilots, for his Wartime accomplishments and superior piloting skills. Those who have flown with him, assure people that all of the wild stories ascribed to Phil are not only true, but probably understated. Recently unveiled at the American Fighter Aces Museum, in Dallas Texas, is a display of Phil's P-40, "O'Riley's Daughter" It carries the inscription inder its canopy, "Captain Phil Colman"

In 1994, Phil was honored by local pilots for his achievements and his career, by being named "Aviator of the Year" at the Boshears' Memorial Fly-In and Airshow.

Today, Phil still enjoys all things flying. He continues to support Aviation, by being available at the Pea Patch, where he keeps his N-3 Pup, and is a supporter of efforts to promote General Aviation by offering himself and his talents to all who ask.

We are proud to have members like Phil Colman

We hope that you have enjoyed our spotlight on one of our Members. If you have a suggestion about who we should spotlight next, drop an E-Mail below....

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WebMaster, EAA Chapter 172


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Last Updated: 091210@1226EDT