Ashley Chadbourne McKinley

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Ashley Chadbourne McKinley
Born (1896-06-23)June 23, 1896
Marshall, Texas
Died February 11, 1970(1970-02-11) (aged 73)
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch National Guard
United States Army
Years of service 1916-1926
Rank Colonel
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross

Ashley Chadbourne McKinley (June 23, 1896 in Marshall, Texas - February 11, 1970) was an accomplished American aerial photographer and colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps who helped pioneer aviation at subzero temperatures. He accompanied Richard E. Byrd as an aerial photographer on his expedition to the South Pole.[1]


He joined the Missouri National Guard in 1916. He enlisted in the United States Army Signal Corps and became a dirigible pilot. During World War I, he commanded a balloon observation company. He later taught aerial photography and surveying. He attained the rank of captain.[1]

In 1926, McKinley left army service to begin and aerial surveying and photography service. In 1928-1929, he was a photographer for the Byrd Antarctic Expedition.[1] He was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1930.[2]

In 1941, he rejoined the Army Air Corps. He was in charge of the cold-weather operations of the Army Air Force at Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska. McKinley was the first person to suggest that U.S. aircraft be constructed to operate in subzero temperatures and that the Air Force should build a facility to test aircraft in subzero temperatures. He was transferred to Eglin Field for the construction of the facility. After retiring from the Army in 1947, he was a civilian consultant for Admiral Richard Byrd. He died in Florida and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[1]

In June 1971, the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base was named in his honor.[1][3]

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