Volunteered for the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps in 1917.
Served temporarily as a flight instructor on Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, aircraft at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, until he was demobilized in March of 1919.
Formed the famous Gates Flying Circus after World War I with Ivan Gates.
Known as “Upside-down” because of slowly rolling airplanes onto their backs and gliding upside-down. Between 1922 and 1928, he flew approximately 125,000 miles without personal injury and also held the world record for changing planes in mid-air.
During the Depression, he and Hugh Herdon, Jr. set out to fly from Japan to the U.S. Despite an arrest in Japan, mishaps, and freezing temperatures, the two landed safely in Wenatchee, Washington.
Received the Aviation League’s Harmon Trophy with Herdon in 1931 for their transpacific flight.
Served as Chief Test Pilot for the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation.
Helped establish the Ferry Command of the Royal Air Force during World War II. He also flew bombers to Hawaii and Australia.
Awarded the King’s Medal from England, the White Medal of Merit from Japan, and the Admiral William A. Moffett Maritime Aviation Trophy.