During our last open cockpit days of the 2015 summer season, meet Major Glenn Ferguson (USMC-Retired).  Oh, the stories the Major can tell about his long distinguished career as:

  • World War II dive-bomber pilot – when he crashed on a battleship, and experienced engine failure on several occasions
  • Korean War medical evacuation pilot – ferrying wounded by helicopter (like they showed in the TV show MASH), and holding 3 prisoners at bay with the rotating blades of his helicopter
  • Co-pilot of Marine One for Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon

From forced landings to bungee cord helicopter controls, Major Ferguson can tell some amazing stories!

 Come meet him from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, August 22 and 23

Maj Glenn Ferguson joined the Marine Corps in 1939, hoping to see the world and fulfill a boyhood dream of becoming a pilot.  His Marine Corps career began at boot camp in San Diego.

Assignment in Washington, D.C. – including the White House

Major Ferguson provided protection for couriers carrying top secret war documents across the country,  and helped set up security (including getting rid of copperheads) at Shangri Lai (the presidential retreat that later became known as Camp David).

He checked in dignitaries at the East Wing of the F.D.R. White House.

  • At this stage in his career, the only aircraft he flew were model airplanes. One of those models got away, and he had to climb out a window and onto the roof of the White House to retrieve it. ( Too bad camera phones weren’t around then . . .)

Pilot Training

  • Trained to be a pilot in open air, fabric-covered bi-planes called “yellow perils” that were started by the students cranking a heavy flywheel. He learned landing and acrobatics.
  • Qualified to fly dive bombers, torpedo bombers and fighters.
  • Made landings over the front of the old whale boats as a machine gunner and participated in practice landings in pre-Higgins Boat training exercises.

World War II Combat Action

Major Ferguson had an accident with breech on a hot gun in a battleship. (Be sure to ask him about that one!)

  • He was sent to Pearl Harbor in 1944 to be part of the planned first wave of the invasion of the Japanese homeland in which 1 million casualties were expected. Practiced carrier landings by landing on the outline of a carrier deck on the island of Molokai. When Japan surrendered, he was diverted to serve as a dive bomber in China where the Manchurian Army had not yet surrendered.
  • After the war, he served as a Marine Corps test pilot and flight instructor. The Major experienced several “incidents” of engine failure during these early days of flight with the military pushing aircraft to the limits.
  • In 1950, he was trained to fly helicopters in Pensacola. (Early versions of helicopters had flight controls partly assisted with bungee cords . . . pilots appreciated a craft with newly-replaced bungee cords!)  He had an engine explode while carrying the Undersecretary of the Navy, and later made a forced landing on a dark night in the hills of Southern Okinawa.

The Korean Conflict

  • In 1952, he was sent to Korea as a medical-evacuation pilot. Helicopters of the time were not equipped with sophisticated instruments for flying at night, so he sometimes had to navigate by starlight.  Wounded were carried outside with a metal hood over their heads to protect them from air currents, and sandbags were used to balance loads.
  • Was able to hold three prisoners at bay so they could be apprehended by military police by using the turning blades of a helicopter.
  • Finished tour with 134 missions (29 of which were night missions) and evacuated 132 wounded.

Return to Washington, D.C.

  • As part of the HMX squadron, he served as Marine One co-pilot for President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon. He flew President Eisenhower on trips throughout the United States (including trips to his farm in Gettysburg) and on his tours of the Middle East and South America.

See Invested in Tomorrows Leaders for more information on Major Ferguson.