About Our Namesake...
Any true aviation or military history enthusiast will already be familiar with Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert Lee Scott. Who hasn’t read or at least heard of “God is My Copilot”? But unlike most chapter namesakes, he had a personal relationship with ‘his” chapter, IPMS/General Robert L Scott. Our relationship went far beyond just the use of his name: he was a true friend.
But how can you describe a many who has done so very much? Certainly, his WWII exploits in
This true Southern Gentleman was born and raised in
But his retirement in Arizona had quickly chafed; especially so when in 1972 he had to fight through the agonizing loss to cancer of ”Kitty Rix”, his beloved wife of 34 years. Sunny
One of his boyhood goals had been to experience the Great Wall of China, a fascination stemming from as a child reading a 1920’s National Geographic article about the wall while waiting in a
On return to
Chapter officer Bruce Radebaugh knew that General Scott was periodically invited to speak to senior USAF officer-students at the USAF’s
When his positive arrived, club officers also alerted the director of the then-new Robins AFB Museum of Aviation about the potential public relations benefits of a positive relationship with the general. That took some coaching: sometimes modern leadership isn’t necessarily as aware as they should be of the accomplishments of past heroes. One response was “General ‘who’? Scott? Oh yes, now I remember: ‘God is My Copilot’. I thought he was dead!” (Really! We obviously had to do some P.R. work of our own to do.)
Sure enough, General Scott DID like our idea, and came to address our club. He most thoroughly impressed everyone from the first moment when, in his late seventies arriving at the museum he bounded out of his car and virtually ran to greet us. His vitality and enthusiasm were amazing. Before it was time to leave, he had been invited to return to middle
At the time, the museum was housed in relocated temporary buildings brought to Robins after earlier being condemned at another base: all aircraft were displayed outdoors. Although he would be the last to claim any credit, his arrival coincided with period of tremendous growth of the museum. (In twenty years, the museum went from zero to the 2nd largest USAF museum, and overall the 4th largest aviation museum in the country.) For once, at least, Wolfe has been proven very, VERY wrong!
General Scott with RLS chapter members Bill Paul, Jerry Hall, and Fred Horky, shortly after he moved to
A tireless promoter, he spoke at events all over the state ….and often at those events, he frequently credited our club for having inspired his return. At every event, he always had time for every visitor …especially the kids. And always, the underlying message was preparedness.
This born fighter pilot will always be identified with the P-40, of course, but his log book contains everything from P-6 through the “century series” fighters, and many more, along the way amassing more than 30,000 flight hours.
General Scott in front of the
He found time to write a string of very successful books; most had an underlying theme of military aviation and American preparedness. Some have snickered at the title of General Scott’s first, and most famous, book; “God is My Copilot”, as if anyone who put God in the right seat just HAD to be more than a little self-centered. They couldn’t be farther from the truth: he meant that phrase in every POSITIVE way. You just had to have met and talked with the man to understand, and we in “his” chapter were fortunate to have that opportunity for twenty years.
The other events …the tales of flying the F-16 (solo!), F-15, well into his seventies and eighties; and the B-1 on his 89th birthday. There is more …like running the Olympic torch for the 1996
I’ll just close this with the ultimate fighter pilot compliment given by an F-15 pilot who flew with him on the F-15B ride when he was eighty years old: “…he’s a good stick!”
General Scott passed away on February 27th, 2006, two months short of his 98th birthday. The nation had lost a great patriot and hero, a patriot and hero in every sense of those words. The Robins AFB Museum of Aviation had lost its public voice and most enthusiastic cheerleader: he is sorely missed there as well.
All of us in his namesake IPMS chapter had lost a true friend. Each of us have a vacant spot inside that will likely not be filled for a very long time.