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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Raphael and Bette Barto U.S. Air Force Collection

Identifier: 2019-04-27
The Raphael and Bette Barto U.S. Air Force Collection documents the Bartos' service in the U.S. Air Force in the 1940s through 1960s with a variety of textual and visual materials.

Raphael Barto's military service as a fighter pilot is documented with flight records and logbooks, certificates and diplomas, documentation related to his Air Medal, and photographs. The logbook primarily covers his time in training at Randolph Field, Texas, but his individual flight records provide more complete documentation of his career. The certificates are primarily for trainings and are mostly photocopies but one original is present. The photos are 8x10" black-and-white official U.S. Air Force photos and depict aircraft (Republic F-105 Thunderchief Family) and crew at Wheelus Air Base, Barto in his office at MacDill Air Force Base, and formal portraits of Barto.

Bette Barto's service as a flight nurse is documented with her diploma from teh USAF School of Aviation Medicine, military records, and photographs, including images of her at Wheelus with Raphael's plane and formal portraits in uniform. Though a logbook is present for her, it only has one listing for one flight in 1959 in Libya, but her service file includes military records with more thorough documentation of her work.

Additionally, the Bartos' marriage certificate is present in the collection, as well as some letters of commendation and clippings regarding both of them. A few photographs of Gordon M. Graham, a friend of Raphael Barto, are also present.


  • 1942-1966, 2019


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


.5 Cubic Feet (one legal-size full width document box)

Biographical Note: Raphael H. Barto

Raphael "Ray" Harold Barto served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot from 1942-1966.

Barto was born in Rochester, Pennsylvania on January 11, 1921. He started flying when he was 11 years old.

On July 16, 1941 he enlisted in the military. In 1946 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lietenant and served as an instructor. Between 1948 and 1953 he served as a 1st Lieutenant and Captain with the 31st Fighter Bomber Wing out of Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia. From 1953-1957 he was stationed at the Wheelus Air Force Base in Tripoli, Libya, as part of the Tactical Fighter Training Branch of the 7272nd Air Base Wing and served as flight commander. He received promotion to Major in 1962 and flew with the 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. He completed a tour in Vietnam as a combat pilot and received a medal for action while there. He later was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas as part of the 835th Combat Support Group within the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He retired from the military on October 19, 1966.

While stationed in Libya, he met flight nurse Bette Harris. They were married in 1960. Barto passed away on May 31, 1997 in Springfield, Missouri.

Biography derived from collection materials and information provided by family.
Biographical Note: Bette J. (Harris) Barto Bette J. (Harris) Barto served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s-1960s as a flight nurse.

Barto was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on January 22, 1928. She attended school in Etowah, Tennessee and studied at the University of Tennessee before earning a B.S. in Nursing from Vanderbilt University in 1950. She worked at the East Tennessee Baptist Hospital in Knoxville and then as an instructor and Associate Director of Nursing Education at Fort Sanders Hospital School of Nursing in Knoxville. In 1957 she was appointed to the Air Force Reserve Nurse Corps. In 1958 she was assigned to active duty with the 3700th Military Training Wing at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. In 1959 she was assigned to Wheelus Air Force Base in Tripoli, Libya, serving as Head Nurse. While there she met Ray Barto and they were married on October 27, 1960. When Ray was transfered to Thailand, Bette was sent to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. Later she was assigned to the 835th at McConnell TAC Hospital at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

In 1966 Barto resigned her commission and transferred to a VA hospital in Kansas. She held a few positions in Kansas through the 1970s and then from 1980-1984 she was a gerontological nurse practicioner at the Wichita VA. In 1983 she recieved a M.S. in Education from Kansas State University. On January 30, 1988 she retired.

As of 2019 Barto was living in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Separated Materials

The following items have been separated from the archival component of this collection and are kept in Objects storage:
  • Major insignia (golden oak leaf) mounted patch
  • Raphael Barto dog tags
  • Golden oak leaf pin
  • 2 leather patches embossed with "Bette Barto Capt USAF NC"

The following items have been separated from the archival component of this collection were transferred to the Library:
  • P-51 manual
  • Tripoli Trotter, newsletter of Wheelus Air Base, Vol. 6 No. 28 and 49 (1959)
Guide to the Raphael and Bette Barto U.S. Air Force Collection
Completed - Level 3
N. Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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