Paul Rizzo

Picture of Paul Rizzo PAUL RIZZO, born in Brooklyn in 1904, to immigrant parents, became obsessed with aviation at age 13 when a Curtiss Jenny made a forced landing near the school he attended in Brooklyn.

In 1926 he purchased a disabled Jenny, and with no instruction restored it to flying condition, then taught himself how to fly. Later, at Curtiss Field, he started to teach others how to rebuild and fly Jennies.

He became a Flight Instructor; Fixed Base Airport Operator; Charter Pilot; Aviation Mechanic and Engineer; Float, Amphibian and Flying Boat Pilot; Aerobatic Pilot; Air- show Performer and Promoter and started his own airport in 1927 in Brooklyn, New York. He called it Barren Island Airport. A few years later, Clarence Chamberlin, appointed by New York City Mayor, Jimmy Walker, chose Paul Rizzo's Barren Island Airport Site to become the first New York City Municipal Airport, Floyd Bennett Field. Floyd Bennett Field, now a Brooklyn historical landmark, has been replaced by the Kennedy-La Guardia Jetport complexes.

In March 1939, Paul Rizzo enlisted in the Army Reserve, and in 1942 he was in the Air Force Ferry Command and Military Air Transport Command. He ferried many fighters and bombers across the Atlantic and throughout the United States. He served 23 years in the Air Force and retired as an Air Force Major. He served in World War II in the United States Army Air Force's 2nd Ferrying Group, Ferrying Division, Air Transport Command, New Castle Army Base, Wilmington, Delaware, (October 1942 to May 1946). He held the rating of SP, Senior Service Pilot. Rizzo delivered military aircraft throughout the U.S. ranging from single engine fighters to four engine bombers.

Later with (MATS) Military Air Transport Command he flew C54's across the Atlantic to the European and African theaters. Piloting the C54's overseas he carried cargo and personnel to foreign shores and on the return trips carried litter cases back to the U.S. During his military career he flew P47, P51, P63, AT6, B25, B26, A26, B17, B24, C54, and A20's. He totaled 1,205 hours of military flying.

As of May 1980 he logged a total of 12,393 flying hours. One hundred and three hours of his military time was in the P47, models P47D, P47N and P47G. Major Rizzo states, "the P47 was a solid, sturdy airplane, easy to fly and performed good. She gave a pilot a feeling of security. The P47 proved itself in World War II."

He taught Aviation Mechanics in New York City serving 30 years. He flew a Grumman Widgeon to remote lakes in the Canadian Bush. At times he and his fishing party were the first United States Americans some of the Canadian natives had seen.

He gave flight instructions to many early New York City police aviators and present day transport pilots.

He piloted the New York Daily News Grumman Mallard and Beaver De Havilland part time and week-ends for six years. Major Rizzo in 1968 spent three months flying a Grumman Super-Widgeon down the Amazon River to remote native villages in South America.

Today he is a noted expert in restoring antique airplanes and is known nationally for his keen restoration knowledge of vintage automobiles. At age 76 Rizzo says "He'd Rather be Flying" and he still does. Paul Rizzo resides with his wife Olive in East Meadow, New York, and is an active member of many organizations including the Lon~ Island Early Fliers Club.

"As American warplanes were coming off the factory assembly lines, ferry pilots, such as myself, flew them to destinations all over the world."

List of all p51 Pilots:
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Pilot Name Biography Summary
Asa A. Adair He returned to the States in August of 1944 after participating in the invasion "D" Day. He flew P-63's, P-51's, F-80's, T-33's, F-84's, T-38's, P-47's in numerous assignments during the following twenty years in in, Japan, U.S.A. and Europe before retiring after twenty-six years of Active Duty.
John C. Anderson After P-47 transition he was assigned to the 406th Fighter Group, 512th Fighter Squadron. (E.T .0.) He flew 56 missions through January, 1945 destroying supply routes, bridges, and railroads; he also flew close support missions with the ground forces, with attacks on tanks, artillery and enemy positions.
W.B. 'Tex' Badger Eight and Ninth Air Force in WWII. B-l7's, P-51's and P-47's. Fifth Air Force in Korea, F80's and F86's. WWII and Korea, Flew 156 missions. Tactical units served in with the USAAF and USAF were: 305th BG , 368th Fighter Group, 4th Fighter Group, 49th Fighter Group, 12th Fighter Wing, 506th Fighter Wing.
Robert T. (Bob) Bagby He trained in P47's at Cross City and Dale Mabry Fields, Florida and then joined the 341st FS Black Jack Squadron), 348th FG of the 5th AF in Brisbane, Australia in June 1943. Bob flew 78 combat missions in New Guinea (Port Moresby, Finchafen, Sador, Wakde and Biak) primarily as wingman to squadron CO's John Campbell and John Moore. Also privileged to fly wing to Neil Kirby on several occasions.
Frank Baker After brief stops at Stone and Atcham, England he joined the 313th Fighter Squadron of the 50th Fighter Group in France. He flew 90 missions through V.E. Day. Most of the missions were close support attacks on various ground targets with a few B-26 escort missions thrown in. All of the missions took place in eastern France and southern Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters.
John M. Balason To relieve the boredom, Balason went down on the deck and blew up a locomotive he had observed at altitude. A few seconds after making his strafing pass he received a hit in his left wing tank and a fire started immediately in the cockpit. The paralyzing effect of the intense heat made climbing out of the cockpit impossible.
Albert W. Barlow, Jr. He flew 69 escort and ground support missions. Destroyed one E/A (ME-I09). Was shot down on Sept. 8, 1944, and evaded enemy ground forces for 8 days. Was picked up by an American Recon. Unit behind the German lines. Was hospitalized until Feb. 1948, when he was medically retired with the rank of Capt. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and Purple Heart.
William T. Beckler In July, 1944 Beckler exchanged his P-40 for a P-47N Thunderbolt. Missions in the Jug covered Northern Italy and Southern France. These included escorting medium bombers. The Bombers, based in Southern Italy, would be escorted to France by Thunderbolts based on Corsica. Shortly before target the Jugs would pull ahead of the bombers and bomb the enemy gun positions. Beckler's activities while participation in three major campaigns earned him the DFC, two Air Medals and two Presidential citations.
Herbert R. Benson After training in P-47 Thunderbolts at bases in North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, he was assigned to the European Theatre of operations and joined the 48th Fighter Group 493rd Fighter Squadron at St. Trond, Belgium. After flying 44 combat missions, he was awarded the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf clusters.
Marvin C. Bigelow Training in the Southeast Training Command with the class of 44C, he graduated and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant single engine pilot at Marianna, Florida with the class of 44D. After checking out in the P-40 at Marianna, he transitioned in the P-47 in the Northeast Defense Command and after gunnery at Dover, Delaware was shipped on the Queen Mary to England.
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