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PILOT STORIES: Biffle, Ira O.

Air Mail Service Began: December 9, 1918
Air Mail Service Ended: October 22, 1919
Pilot Reinstated: August 6, 1923
Air Mail Service Ends Again: June 28, 1927
Total Hours Flown: 1962.37
Total Miles Flown: 193.515
Assignment: College Park, Maryland
  April 23, 1919 – Cleveland, Ohio
  August 6, 1923 – Cheyenne, Wyoming
  College Park, MarylandJune 9, 1924 – Omaha, Nebraska
  July 1, 1924 – Maywood, Illinois
  February 16, 1927 – Omaha, Nebraska

Ira Biffle first flew as a pilot for the army air service where he gained a reputation as a demanding instructor. He found that his airmail service supervisors were just as demanding. After landing 55 minutes late because of fog, he was suspended without pay. Only the intervention of ex-pilot Chief of Flying James C. Edgerton kept Biffle on the payroll.

After he left the Air Mail Service on October 22, 1919, he flew for different organizations, including the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation in Lincoln, Nebraska. While serving as a flying instructor there in April 1922, Biffle taught flying to a lanky young man named Charles Lindbergh. In "We," written by Lindbergh in 1928, he noted that Biffle's reputation as "the most ‘hard boiled' instructor the army ever had during [World War I]" was still well known among the aviation students.

Ira Biffle returned to flying for the Air Mail Service on August 6, 1923 and stayed on as a pilot until the service was turned over to commercial companies. In 1930, he was forced to retire as a pilot due to his failing eyesight. Biffle passed away on April 7, 1934 at the age of 44 of heart disease.

Ira O. Biffle  
  Telegram regarding December 1926 forced landing
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Biffle

(bottom right) Telegram regarding December 1926 forced landing
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