About Alamo Liaison Squadron

Alamo Liaison Squadron Alamo Liaison Squadron on KSAT 12 San Antonio
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KSAT 12 report.
AOPA Pilot Magazine - Alamo Liaison Squadron
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AOPA report.

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Forgotten heroes exist in every war and one such soul was the “Liaison Pilot” of World War II. This dedicated group provided vital functions on the battlefield known as observation, spotter, artillery fire control, forward air control, communications, command and control, medical evacuation and many others that just “needed done.” Largely overshadowed, the feats of these brave men have been chronicled by few historians. Hardy Cannon, a mechanic by trade, commemorated these pilots in his own particular way. There exists today a book he authored chronicling the roles of the WWII Liaison Pilot. There’s also an airport in his name which houses a museum and a flying collection of the planes they flew.

While unappreciated by almost everyone, with the exclusion of the infantry and artillery units under which they served, WWII Liaison Pilots supplied troops with food, goods and ammunition. They located stranded soldiers and evacuated the wounded. Liaison Pilots held the ranks of both enlisted men and sometimes commissioned officers who were regular US Army Air Force pilots that happened to fly liaison aircraft and missions. However, the majority of Liaison Pilots were ordinary soldiers trained to fly in small unassuming airplanes commonly known as Cubs. They were often exposed to dangers and performed invaluable feats to assist advancing ground forces. Liaison Pilots did not enjoy the same benefits, that come with rank, as other US combat pilots. Bomber and fighter pilots slept in beds in relative safety, Liaison Pilots slept on the front line in tents with their troops.

In 1981, Hardy Cannon along with a group of collaborators in San Antonio, Texas formed the Alamo Liaison Group (ALG) and began collecting and restoring liaison airplanes. These were aircraft primarily constructed of metal tubing, aluminum and wood that were covered in fabric. They were unarmed, light in weight and they operated at low speeds and low altitudes often directly over the front lines. By 1982, ALG had completed the restoration of six WWII liaison aircraft, a 1941 Stinson (L-1), a 1941 Taylorcraft (L-2), a 1942 Aeronca (L-3B), a Piper (L-4), a 1942 Stinson (L-5) and a 1942 Interstate S-1A (L-6). These aircraft comprise the series of WWII liaison airplanes assigned with military “L” designations. They are often referred to collectively as “L-birds.”

Alamo Liaison Squadron Formation

Today, ALG operates under the name Alamo Liaison Squadron (ALS) and continues to fly and maintain L-birds at Cannon Field, the former residence and workshop of the late Hardy Cannon. ALS is made up of San Antonio area men and women many of whom have served in the US Armed Forces. Also involved in other “old airplane” organizations such as the Commemorative Air Force and the Experimental Aircraft Association, the group’s members continue to serve in honor of the aviators who preceded them.

ALS maintains a collection of WWII L-birds, all flying examples, including an L-2 Taylorcraft, L-3 Aeronca, L-4 Piper, L-5 Stinson and L-6 Interstate. Some of these aircraft are owned by ALS while others are owned by individual squadron members who base their aircraft on the field. They are flown by veteran and volunteer pilots who have mastered the art of flying "taildraggers," aircraft referred to as such due to their single diminutive rear wheel or tail skid. Every year the squadron performs flyovers at parades, fairs and other population gatherings throughout the region. ALS members also attend airshows and fly-ins to carry on the liaison mission.

Alamo Liaison Squadron Missing Man Formation
Missing man formation flight performed by Alamo Liaison Squadron.
Alamo Liaison Squadron on Trade-A-Plane
ALG on Trade-A-Plane, September 1984.

ALS members not only fly the L-bird collection, they provide the necessary restoration and repair work to keep them flying. Over the years, countless aircraft have come back to life at the hands of ALS members. While liaison aircraft were designed for simplicity, their method of construction is a learned skill and one that had become a vanishing talent. ALG was one of the progenitors of bringing “tube-and-fabric” aircraft construction back to life. These aircraft, new and old, are a popular today among nostalgic aviators and backcountry pilots alike.

Alamo Liaison Group is a 501c3 non-profit organization which derives its funding from member dues, reimbursement for flying expenses, contributions from organizers of the events it supports, and contributions from donors and visitors to Cannon Field. The Texas Historic Commission has designated ALG as a bona fide flying historical museum. Tax-deductible contributions to ALG/ALS come in many forms including flyable and restorable aircraft, monetary gifts large and small, and WWII memorabilia donations to the Alamo Liaison Squadron museum collection.

The group seeks to perpetuate, in the memory and hearts of the American people, the spirit in which the liaison pilots, their crews and the airplanes served in the defense of a nation. Your support helps to further our mission of keeping alive the memory of the forgotten heroes, the liaison pilots. Alamo Liaison Squadron thanks you for your participation and your patronage.

Watch Alamo Liaison Squadron on San Antonio's KSAT 12. Reporter Katrina Webber, visited Cannon Field and interviewed ALS members in September 2016. View the report here.

Read about Alamo Liaison Squadron in AOPA Pilot Magazine. Writer Barry Schiff, along with photographer Mike Fizer, paid a visit and flew our L-Birds in April 2015. Download the article PDF here.

Learn more about the L-birds at EAA. Watch the video: Grasshoppers Land at AirVenture 2016.


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