the assorted works of G. H. Spaulding


Daedalian Membership Criteria



Note from the Flight Captain: Gentlemen, once again National is asking Daedalian members whether we should consider expanding eligibility criteria for Daedalian membership as a way of dealing with steadily declining membership numbers. Some are concerned over the Order's loss of status and influence within the active Services as an ever increasing number of leadership positions are going to non-pilots. For the first time, we are being asked what we think of the idea of allowing non-pilots to become Daedalians. "Non-pilots" might include certain or all aircraft crewmembers and, perhaps, drone operators.


This issue will be discussed at the National Convention in San Diego in October. Meanwhile, the National Adjutant has sent the following letter to all Flight Captains to "stimulate dialogue" within the Flights and to elicit comments from them. The Flight 18 Officer Staff has had an opportunity to discuss the questions raised in the letter and now we'd like to hear from Flight members so we can let National know where Mile High Flight 18 comes down on the matter. We will open the issue for comment at our March luncheon meeting. Meanwhile, immediately following the below letter is a link by which you can email your comments directly to the Flight Captain now. No need to worry about being grammatically or politically correct here, just give us your honest opinion.


When we have a draft response ready to send to National, we'll post it here for any final comments prior to launching it on its merry way.


Volabamus  Volamus

Ger Spaulding,

Flight Captain

9 March 2013      




PURPOSE: Stimulate a dialogue among Daedalians regarding the criteria for membership in the Order.

BACKGROUND: The topic of membership is raised repeatedly at board meetings and at flight level. This is motivated by numerous factors, including declining membership and participation due to aging members, reduced pilot production, high active duty and Reserve/Guard operations tempo, the challenge of motivating young pilots to join the Order early in their career and possible disinterest or limited awareness on the part of thousands of eligible military pilots who are not presently members. Expanded membership criteria have been discussed formally and informally by the National Board of Directors and at membership meetings on several occasions. Notably, the records show there has not been a formal vote by the membership on this matter for at least the last 20 years.  

BEGINNINGS: The Order was founded in March 1934 at Maxwell Field, Alabama to honor WWI pilots, who were the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war. The original criteria for membership were commissioned officers, who no later than the Armistice of 1918, held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft. Their purpose, stated in the preamble of the Order’s Constitution, was “to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism and love of country…and the high ideals of self-sacrifice which placed service to the nation above personal safety and position and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together at that critical hour of our nation’s need…”

EVOLUTION: The early days of military aviation were dominated primarily by pilots in single-seat airplanes. Defying gravity, taking to the air solo in a flying machine and applying its unique capabilities to military use, particularly the thrill of aerial combat against an enemy all added to the aura of the military pilot.

After WWI, military aviation would evolve to include multi-crewed transport and bomber aircraft and, later, helicopters and specialized aircraft.

The dominance of pilots in military aviation would carry through the establishment of an independent air force and for the remainder of the 20th century with pilots holding most key leadership positions.

Over the years, the Order’s membership criteria have expanded to include retired and separated military pilots, warrant/flight officers and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).

In 2011, the Daedalian board of directors approved an initiative to offer a complimentary membership to new rated military pilots for three years while they progress through various training en route to their permanent assignment. To date, although not yet fully implemented, nearly 300 new pilots have accepted this offer.

TODAY: The bond between crewmembers on any aircraft is very strong, particularly when they are formed as a crew and fly as a team on a regular basis. Some hold that the bond between crewmembers causes some pilots to resist Daedalian membership because their non-pilot crewmember(s) is excluded.

The evolution of technology and precision weapons has made the role of the combat systems officers particularly critical to full employment of many aircraft and successful mission accomplishment. The evolution of air and space forces has broadened the application of air and space power, e.g., unmanned drones, cyberspace and C4ISR. Non- pilots, many of whom are directly engaged with our enemies, now hold key leadership positions at all levels throughout the armed services.

All crewmembers, no matter what their rating, would most certainly embrace the principles included in the preamble of the Constitution and tenets of the Order.


1)      Has military aviation evolved to a point where the Order should consider expanded membership eligibility?

2)      Would a broader membership base representing military aviation as it exists today enhance fulfillment of the Order’s mission elements of advocacy, outreach programs and camaraderie, and the stature and voice of the Order in support of military aviation and aerospace power?

3)      If membership criteria were broadened, are there aspects of the current criteria that should be retained, e.g., commissioned status, rated position(s) eligible for membership in the Order, etc.?


1)      Status quo. No change in membership criteria is warranted.

2)      Expand membership criteria to include additional to be determined rated crewmembers and address the question of commissioned status.

3)      Establish a separate membership category status for non-pilots.

4)      Stepped increase in membership criteria….some now, may consider more at a later date.


1)      This paper has been forwarded to flight captains for comment and discussion within their flights with the aim of gaining a “sense of the membership” on present eligibility criteria.

2)      This topic will be an agenda item for discussion at the Daedalian convention in San Diego October 2-5.

3)      Comments/recommendations should be forwarded directly to /210-945-2111 or /703-489-7673 



When the blank message opens, simply type "MEMBERSHIP" in the Subject line and let 'er rip.


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