Doolittle & Son
Photo from collection of Floyd Nolta
Caption courtesy of George Nolta

Doolittle & Son
Photo from collection of Floyd Nolta
Caption courtesy of George Nolta

       Gen. Jimmie Doolittle was good friends with Floyd Nolta. I believe they met while learning to fly together during WWI. They were lifelong friends. After WWII, Doolittle came up to Willows many times to go hunting. Here's a picture from one of those trips. The only people I can identify are: Floyd Nolta - top row, 2nd from left. Doolittle - top row, 3rd from left, next to Floyd. Dale Nolta - bottom right.
     When I was in grammar school, I remember being taken to Dale Nolta's house once to meet Gen. Doolittle. I had no idea at the time who he was, but I knew he was somebody important.
     Floyd also flew in the movie "30 Seconds Over Tokyo". Floyd flew the plane that Jimmie Doolittle was supposed to be flying as he flew under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Photo from collection of Floyd Nolta
Caption courtesy of George Nolta

       Here’s a photo from one of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s many hunting trips up to Willows with Floyd and Dale.
     Left to right: Bill Downs (I believe a good friend of Doolittle, maybe his pilot.), Dale Nolta, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, and Hugh Logan.
     Hugh Logan was a rancher in the foothills west of Willows, and a good friend of Dale and Floyd. We named our daughter Valerie after Hugh Logan’s daughter Valerie. She was in my grammar school class in Willows around 1948, and I always associated the name with great beauty!
(From Gregg's collection at Nolta's Airport.)
Courtesy of George Nolta

via email from George Nolta, 4-25-04
     Cousin Colleen Ferrini of Williams sent me a wonderful newspaper feature insert on the subject of "Centennial of Flight", from the Colusa Co. Sun Herald of October of 2003. One of the fascinating stories in the supplement was an article by Susan Meeker entitled: "Jimmy Doolittle Trained in Willows for Attack on Tokyo". I re-typed the article for distribution, since it was too big to scan easily. The article tells about Doolittle bringing his volunteer squadron of 16 B-25’s and crews to Willows shortly before his surprise attack on Tokyo in April of 1942. Doolittle and his crews secretly practiced short take-offs from the Glenn County Airport in Willows to simulate the short 500 foot aircraft carrier flight deck. Shortly after this practice session, they boarded the U.S.S. Hornet aircraft carrier in S.F. bay for their trip across the Pacific on their way to their surprise visit to Japan. This top-secret bombing mission was very significant for both Americans and Japanese, since it happened just a few months after Pearl Harbor, and it demonstrated to the Japanese that they were vulnerable to attack by American bombers..
     The article mentions Doolittle’s close friendship with Floyd Nolta. The article doesn’t state it, but I can’t help but believe that Doolittle’s friendship with Floyd was what made them decide to pick Willows for their secret practice session.
     In an earlier email, I sent most of you a snapshot of Doolittle’s B-25, which I strongly suspect was taken by Floyd when Doolittle was practicing in Willows. Doolittle bailed out of his B-25 over China, and his plane crashed, so the photo of his B-25 could not have been taken after the raid. To read the entire article, click on:
Doolittle's Secret Training

Jimmie Doolittle
James H. Doolittle's picture will be part of Thompson's 30-picture exhibit
at Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, New York, this week.
       Lewis Eugene Thompson's portrait of James H. Doolittle will be unveiled at a dinner honoring Doolittle; who was elected an honorary fellow of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, one of the highest honors the aircraft industry can bestow. The dinner is to be part of the 16th annual meeting of the Institute Jan. 26 to 29.
     Doolittle has seen a photograph of his portrait and thinks it is a fine likeness. Even so, the quality of Thompson's work remains to be judged by the critics. Thompson is confident the aviation portraits are good enough eventually to be purchased by the government for exhibit in a museum, possibly at Wright Field. The exhibit in New York this week may be the first step toward national fame.
Certainly, to the untrained eye his portraits appear to be excellent. They look as if they really were about to speak.

     Pops (Walter Lees), and I made a lot of trips because we could leave the girls with my mother and father who lived with us. We went to the Cleveland Air Races. We flew there in a Packard Diesel and I remember Pops telling me to be prepared to jump because there were so many ships in the air. I thought how much easier it would be to jump if I saw Pops jump first.
     Our friends Betty and Ralph Stout managed a Country Club there and they invited us over to dinner and we had a funny deal there as Pops had forgot his good clothes and just had knickers to wear. I had brought a formal dress, but we couldn't go into the main dining room because we weren't dressed properly. However, Pops enjoyed the golf club and played there. I still hear from Betty Stout. She lives in Florida now.
     While we were at the air races, we rode back and forth with Jimmy Doolittle and his wife in their car and went to several things that they went to with the Early Birds. We also went to the Zistel house. Pops taught "Zip" Zistel (Errol H. Zistel) to fly at Newport News, VA in 1916. Zip became a war ace and a general.

     If you search for "James H. Doolittle +aviation", using the Google search engine, (1-18-04), you will find about 1,210 links. A good place to start is the following.
General James H. Doolittle Remembered, 1896-1993
     "In 1984, General James H. Doolittle generously agreed to place his name on the Military Aviation Library at The University of Texas at Dallas History of Aviation Collection. He showed sincere interest in the Collection until his death at age 96 in 1993. In accordance with his will, the Library recently received the private papers of General Doolittle. The new additions include all the General's personal correspondence, film and photographs and copies of his published scientific research papers, as well as his famous desk and chair, quadrupling the size of the collection. The Doolittle Library represents the only major collection of the General's memorabilia and personal files outside federal facilities such as The Library of Congress."

Jimmie Doolittle
From a souvenir cover commemorating the 1930 International Aircraft Show,
which was held in Saint Louis, Missouri, February 15-23.
Photo and text courtesy of Roy Nagl, 4-17-04
Ancient Aviators Website

General Doolittle died in 1993
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