Alamo Liaison Squadron – Since 1981
In 1981, Hardy Cannon along with a group of collaborators in San Antonio, Texas formed the Alamo Liaison Group (ALG) to begin collecting and restoring liaison airplanes. These were aircraft primarily constructed of steel tubing, aluminum, wires and wood, and covered in fabric. Serving in WWII, they were unarmed, light in weight, and 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 including, a 1941 Stinson L-1, a 1941 Taylorcraft L-2, a 1942 Aeronca L-3, a Piper L-4, a 1942 Stinson L-5, and a 1942 Interstate L-6. These aircraft comprise the series of airplanes assigned the military “L” designation operating during WWII in a liaison capacity. They are referred to collectively as “L-birds.”
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 area residents, from San Antonio and beyond, many of whom have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The group’s members continue to serve in honor of the aviators and personnel who preceded them.
We are grateful for all the opportunities given to Alamo Liaison Squadron (ALS) in our 40-plus years of flying and operational history. And we salute all of those who proudly served in support of our great nation. It is the two-fold mission of ALS to honor past generations and to inspire future pilots and patriots.
The Liaison Pilot
Forgotten heroes exist in every war and one such soul was the Liaison Pilot of World War II. These dedicated individuals provided vital functions on the battlefield including: field observation, spotter, artillery fire control, forward air control, communications, command and control, medical evacuation, and many others that just “needed done.” Though largely overshadowed, the feats of these brave men have been chronicled by few historians.
Hardy Cannon, a mechanic by trade, chose to commemorate the Liaison 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 planes the Liaison Pilots flew.
While unappreciated by almost everyone, with the exception 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 enlisted men, and sometimes commissioned officers who were regular U.S. Army Air Force pilots who happened to fly liaison aircraft and missions. However, the majority of Liaison Pilots were ordinary soldiers trained to fly in small unassuming airplanes. They were often exposed to dangers and performed invaluable feats to assist advancing ground forces. Liaison Pilots did not enjoy the same benefits that came with rank as other U.S. combat pilots. While bomber and fighter pilots slept in beds in relative safety, Liaison Pilots slept on the front line in tents with their troops.
The L-bird Collection
ALS presently maintains a collection of WWII L-birds, all in flying condition, including L-2, L-3, L-4, L-5, and L-6 examples. Some of these aircraft are owned by ALS while others are owned by individual squadron members who base their aircraft on the field or nearby. Aircraft 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. 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.
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 was in the past a vanishing talent. ALG was one of the progenitors of bringing “tube-and-fabric” aircraft back to life. These aircraft, of old and new construction, are popular today among nostalgic aviators, backcountry and sport pilots alike.
ALG 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 ALS as a bona fide flying historical museum. Tax-deductible contributions to ALG/ALS have 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 with which the Liaison Pilots, their crews and the L-birds 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.
If you prefer to give by mail, send your check payable to: Alamo Liaison Squadron, 2352 S. Loop 1604 W., San Antonio, Texas 78264. Please write “Donation” in the memo line.