Until the creation of the United States Air Force in 1947, non-naval military flight fell solely under the bailiwick of the United States Army Air Forces (earlier called the Army Air Corps), and it was during World War II that the Army began issuing its Aircrew Badge to Soldiers who were trained in flight operations as crewmembers—gunners, bombardiers, navigators, etc.—or were on flying status because of their flying status.

But the establishment of the Air Force did not eliminate Army aviation nor Soldiers serving as aircrew members, and the service continued to issue the old Army Air Forces Aircrew Badge until May, 1962, when the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations approved a newly designed badge called the Aircraft Crew Member Badge.

Nearly forty years later, another Deputy Chief of Staff announced that the badge was being redesignated as the Aviation Badge, and that it would be eligible for all Soldiers who successfully earned an MOS in the Aviation Career Management Field (CMF) retroactive to January 1, 1947. Complicating matters are the numerous changes made to the CMF and Military Occupational Specialty Codes over the years. (A complete list of eligible MOS codes and applicable years can be found in AR 600-8-22, which can be downloaded from the Army Publishing Directorate.) With this redesignation, it was possible for Soldiers who had never flown in a military aircraft (and likely never would) to earn their “wings,” a fact that is consistent with the name of the Badge but most certainly not the design.

Senior Aviation Badges are awarded to Soldiers logged ten years of service in the designated CMFs and MOS’s (or seven years on flying status per AR 600-106) and are recommended for the upgrade by their unit commanders. Master Badges require a rank of Staff Sergeant or higher and seventeen years of duty in the CMF/MOS (or fifteen years on flying status). Note that flying status time is cumulative.

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