Guest commentary: His 'Co-Pilot' has called him home — at age 97

Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert L. Scott Jr., world-renowned World War II ace pilot, author of the 1943 bestseller book "God Is My Co-Pilot," and technical adviser for the movie of the same name, died Monday, Feb. 27.

He was 97.

Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert L. Scott Jr., autographed a photo for Jack Hild at a Flying Tigers reunion in 1976.

Courtesy Jack Hild

Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert L. Scott Jr., autographed a photo for Jack Hild at a Flying Tigers reunion in 1976.

On July 4, 1942, at the request of Chiang Kai Shek, Scott was given command of the 23rd Fighter Group of the China Air Task Force (CATF) Flying Tigers, which the Army Air Corps Unit activated with the remnants of the (AVG) Flying Tigers that included, among others, the legendary ace pilots David "Tex" Hill (now 90) and Ed Rector (deceased, 2000).

After his retirement, Scott pursued a life-long dream to walk the length of the Great Wall of China — 2,000 miles. He did just that with a 70-pound backpack that included 1,200 of his own homemade oatmeal cookies.

In addition, at 82, he was cleared to fly in an Air National Guard F-15 Eagle (a jet), and in 1997, in celebration of his 89th birthday, he flew his last flight in a B-1 bomber.

His flight log closed with more than 33,000 hours in the air — a record few pilots have ever achieved.

In addition, he authored more than 10 books in his lifetime.

On a 9,000-foot mountain overlooking Kunming, China, General Clare Lee Chennault's home base in World War II, he left an engraved memorial to his former boss: "GENERAL CHENNAULT, WE, YOUR MEN, HONOR YOU FOREVER."

In the last two decades of his life, Scott worked tirelessly at the Museum of Aviation at Warner-Robins Air Force Base, Macon, Ga., near where he lived, to develop the heritage and education center. His legacy was "teach the younger generation that, if we are strong, we will never have to endure another tragedy like WWII."

Now, his Co-Pilot has taken him home.

Internment is in Arlington National Cemetery.

Jack Hild of Naples is the Historian for the Flying Tigers — 14th AFA.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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