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Aviator Badge
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Aviator Badge

An Aviator Badge is an insignia used in most of the world’s militaries to designate those who have received training and qualification in military aviation. Also known as a Pilot’s Badge, or Pilot Wings, the Aviator Badge was first conceived to recognize the advanced training that military aviators receive, and also as a way to outward differentiate between military pilots and the “foot soldiers” of the regular ground forces.

United States

The United States military issues three types of aviation badges, being those of Army, Air Force, and Naval aviation. The first United States Aviator Badges were issued to members of the Army Air Corps during the First World War. The badges were issued in three degrees, being that of enlisted, junior officer, and senior officer. The Army Air Corps also issued a badge for balloon pilots, known as the Aeronaut Badge.

During the Second World War, with the rise of the Army Air Force, a second series of aviator badges were issued to include a design that has survived to the modern day. The Army Air Corps Pilot Badge was issued in three degrees: Pilot, Senior Pilot, and Command Pilot and this badge was the predecessor for the modern United States Air Force Pilot Badge. The Enlisted Aviator Badge was eliminated, since the new pilot corps was comprised entirely of officers.

After the creation of the Air Force as a separate service, U.S. Army aviation continued to a large enough degree which warranted a new badge intended for Army Aviators. The result was the creation of the Army Aviator Badge which is a modified version of the U.S. Air Force Pilot Badge.

The aviator badge currently used in the United States Navy has remained unchanged since the dawn of Naval Aviation more than 80 years ago. The Naval Aviator Badge is issued to all U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Marine Corps pilots upon graduation from primary flight schooling.

In the modern military, Army and Air Force Aviator Badges are issued in the degrees of Basic, Senior, and Master. The degrees are denoted by a star and wreath above the badge. The Naval Aviator Badge is issued in a single degree.

With the dawn of the Space Age, all of the United States Aviator badges are upgradable to the Astronaut Badge, for those military pilots who become astronauts.

See also: Military badges of the United States

United Kingdom

The current aviator badge of the Royal Air Force has been in use since the Second World War. The badge consists of a winged crown and wreath, beneath which are the letters "RAF". The Royal Air Force also uses a "half wing" version to denote Aviation Observers.