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Archives at The Museum of Flight

American Fighter Aces Association Oral Interviews

Identifier: 2002-02-13-OralHist
The American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA) Oral Interviews consists of oral histories with approximately 120 fighter aces and several non-aces, including relatives of aces, other military pilots, and military historians, recorded from the 1960s through the 1990s. It also contains several recorded events connected to fighter pilots, such as reunions and goodwill meetings, plus some assorted commercial recordings related to military aviation. The interviews, events, and commercial recordings are recorded on a total of 123 audio reels, 91 audiocassettes, four microcassettes, two data cartridges, and one compact disc. The original audio recordings are physically organized by media type. The finding aid is organized into three series: Interviews, Events, and Other Recordings. The interviews are further divided into two subseries: individual interviews, which are listed alphabetically by last name of subject, and group interviews, which feature multiple interviewees who were either interviewed collectively or in brief one-on-one sessions during military reunions.

The interviews on audio reels (approximately 121) were primarily conducted by Eugene A. Valencia, with occasional assistance from John Florea and others, on behalf of the AFAA during the mid to late 1960s. After Valencia passed away in 1972, one of his sons, Jerry, transcribed some of the interviews and compiled them into a book, Knights of the Sky, released in 1980. The interviews on audiocassettes (approximately 87) were conducted by or created on behalf of historian Eric M. Hammel during the late 1980s to late 1990s. In many instances, interviewees recorded their own oral histories at Hammel's request and sent the tapes to Hammel. Other oral histories were conducted directly by Hammel via in-person interviews or over the telephone. Hammel collected these interviews for various book projects about the fighter aces and some of them are featured in his The American Aces Speak series.

Most of the interviews focus on the interviewees' military service during either World War I or World War II, but a few also discuss their involvement in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Military training and personal background are also discussed. Please note that some of the interviews contain offensive comments, such as racial slurs or impersonations, and graphic descriptions of wartime violence.

The Events series consists of recordings made during a BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan) fighter pilots reunion, circa 1970, and a goodwill meeting between the AFAA and Luftwaffe Fighter Pilots’ Association in May 1961. The recordings feature highlights from the events, such as speeches and discussions between pilots about their service.

A few assorted recordings, such as Champlin Aircraft Museum radio commercials and commercially-produced radio documentaries about military aviation, are gathered under the Other Recordings series at the end of the collection.

As part of digitization and processing, transcripts were created of the oral interviews and events, but not for the materials in the Other Recordings series.


  • circa 1960s-1990s


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Due to preservation concerns, digital copies should be utilized instead of original materials. There is limited access to undigitized content.

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.


13.2 Cubic Feet (8 records cartons (primarily reels); 3 card boxes (primarily cassette tapes))


Collection of approximately one hundred twenty (120) oral histories of Fighter Aces and several non-aces, including relatives of aces, other military pilots, and military historians.

Historical Note: American Fighter Aces Association

The American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA) was founded in 1960 to recognize the 1450 combat pilots that received a special distinction of becoming an ace by destroying five (5) or more hostile aircraft in air-to-air combat. This includes aces in both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.

The AFAA lists its objectives and purposes as "to preserve and promote the distinguished heritage of the American combat fighter Ace; to preserve the spirit of loyalty, fellowship and responsibility that motivates Fighter Aces; to support the understanding of and demand for sound, progressive aerospace weapons systems which will guarantee the security and peace of the United States; to encourage and stimulate young men and women to enter the aerospace field; and to sponsor educational programs designed to increase and broaden public knowledge of aerospace technology."

The AFAA sponsors an academic scholarship fund for youths who are primarily descendants of American Fighter Aces and fosters youth programs encouraging patriotism. Additional programs include award programs, such as the annual presentation of the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship Award at the United States Air Force Academy and for outstanding fighter pilot "lead-in" trainee graduates from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The AFAA is affliated with The Museum of Flight (TMOF), the proud home of the AFAA.

Source and Further Reading:
Biographical Note: Eugene A. Valencia Eugene A. Valencia, Jr. was born on April 13, 1921 in San Francisco, California. Valencia joined the United States Navy in 1941 and was designated a Naval Aviator the following year. During World War II, Valencia served with Fighting Squadron 9 (VF-9) aboard the USS Essex and USSLexington. In 1945, he was named a division leader and helped perfect the "mowing machine" maneuver, an effective tactic in which a fighter pilot could constantly be on the attack while his squadron mates provided cover. By the end of World War II, he was one of the top-scoring aces of the Pacific Theater, credited with 23 victories.

Valencia remained in the military after the war and retired as a commander in 1962. He co-founded the American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA) and was very active in the organization, serving as its vice president and historian. He conducted many oral histories with Fighter Aces during the 1960s and hoped to use these interviews for projects promoting the exploits of the Fighter Aces. However, Valencia passed away in 1972 before these projects could be completed.
Biographical Note: Eric M. Hammel Eric M. Hammel was born in 1946 and is a military historian and author. Hammel's books tend to focus on the United States Marine Corps and World War II history. He has authored or co-authored more than 45 books and contributed to publications such as Leatherneck magazine.


Custodial History

The American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA) collection came from the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona. When it closed, its collection was moved to The Museum of Flight.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Archival Materials at The Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is home to the entire AFAA collection, of which the oral histories are a subset. Additional material on virtually each Ace is available in the Biographical Files. Materials include photographs, clippings, and ephemera related to the Aces.

Other collections related to Fighter Aces include:

Processing Information

During processing and digitization, master recordings were identified as much as possible. Items that were duplicate copies of master recordings or contained derivative content (e.g., snippets from several master recordings that were spliced together) were separated out. Several cassette copies of the reels were ultimately discarded, as the audio quality was quite poor.

Small edits were occasionally applied to the access versions of the digitized files to adjust uneven volume levels, shorten blank spots in the audio, or remove sections of irrelevant audio, such as counting tests or music left over from a previous recording on the tape. The master versions of the files are unedited.

All interviews were transcribed by Pioneer Transcription Services and edited by museum staff.

Biographical information courtesy of: Boyce, Ward J., ed., American fighter aces album. Mesa, Ariz: American Fighter Aces Association, 1996.
Guide to the American Fighter Aces Association Oral Interviews
Completed - Level 3
A. Lane, J. Parent, H. Kolesar
2018; 2021
Description rules
Language of description
Processing, digitization, and transcription of this collection was made possible by a $10,000 anonymous donation in August 2016 and by a "Recordings at Risk" grant administered by the Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).
Edition statement
2nd Edition

Revision Statements

  • 2018 November: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace
  • 2021 December: Majority of transcription work completed; detail added to inventory and slightly re-arrange to reflect subjects

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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