Pilots Who Later Became President

Presidents of the United States come from different walks of life to serve in the country’s highest political office. Some are entrepreneurs, while others are farmers and lawyers. There are people who have worked as teachers and farmers. Some worked in police enforcement, while others were engineers, surveyors, tailors, and journalists. Here are the three pilots who rose through the ranks to become President of the United States of America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (USA’s 34th President)

1953 – 1961

Statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower

Early Life and Career

David Jacob and Ida Elizabeth (Stover) Eisenhower relocated their family from Denison, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas, where their forefathers had lived in a Mennonite colony. David worked in a creamery, the family was poor, and Dwight (born October 14, 1890, Denison, Texas, U.S), and his brothers learned the value of hard work and a strong religious tradition from their parents. Eisenhower was the third son of a family of seven. He was chosen to go to West Point because he did well in sports in high school. As a second lieutenant, he was stationed in Texas, where he met and married Mamie Geneva Doud in 1916.

Life as a Pilot

At Abilene (Kansas) High School, Eisenhower cared more about sports than schoolwork. He went to the U.S. Military Academy and was the 61st best student out of the 164 who graduated. He was first in his class of 275 at the Army’s Command and General Staff School, and he also finished the Army War College.

Between 1935 and 1939, he helped set up the first Philippine air force as a military advisor to the Philippine Commonwealth Government and an assistant to General Douglas MacArthur. Biographers say that learning to fly was a lifelong dream of his.

He is the first president to have a license to fly a plane. Eisenhower learned to fly in 1935 while he was serving in the Philippines. He is best known for being Commander in Chief and leading the Allies in World War II as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. He flew a PT-17 Stearman there on his own.

Life as a President

Wartime leadership made Eisenhower renowned. In 1943, he became Allied overall commander after orchestrating invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He planned the 1944 Normandy Invasion and western European conflict until German capitulation (1945).

Dwight D. Eisenhower won WWII in Europe. He achieved a truce in Korea and tried to end the Cold War. He backed Modern Republicanism.

His Cold War leadership followed the Korean War. Booming economy then, housing, TV, and babies boomed. McCarthyism persisted.

He negotiated to ease Cold War tensions. 1953 halted border wars.

As president, he created NASA in 1958. The space race began.

The president prioritized a balanced budget and most New Deal and Fair Deal measures. He sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to execute court orders during desegregation. His military desegregation. “No second-class citizens”

Eisenhower kept peace. His “atoms for peace” idea of giving uranium to poor countries worked successfully.

George H.W. Bush (USA’s 41st President)

1989 – 1993

President George H. W. Bush

Early Life and Career

George Herbert Walker Bush, born June 12, 1924, died November 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. He was the 41st president of the U.S. from 1989 to 1993.

Prescott Sheldon Bush, an investment banker and Connecticut senator, and Dorothy Walker Bush were his parents. Her father founded the Walker Cup amateur golf competition. Bush attended private schools in Greenwich, Conn., and Andover, Massachusetts.

Bush graduated from Yale in 1948. He left his father’s company to sell oil field supplies in Texas with his young family. Bush-Overbey Oil Development Company, Zapata Petroleum Corporation, and Zapata Off-Shore Company were his creations.

Life as a Pilot

Bush left home to attend Phillips Academy Andover as an adolescent. Bush was baseball and soccer captain and senior class president at Andover. On his 18th birthday in 1942, he graduated. He joined the Navy that day.

He served in the Navy during WWII from 1942 until 1945. He was the Navy’s youngest pilot in July 1943. He flew 58 combat flights in the Pacific theater. His plane was shot down by Japanese fire on September 2, 1944, as he was bombing an enemy radio facility. Bush parachuted into the water. Submarines later rescued him. The DFC was given to him for his bravery.

Bush married Barbara Pierce on January 6, 1945, while in the Navy. In 1941, he met her at a Greenwich country club ball. George Walker, born in 1946, is still alive; Robin, born in 1949, died of leukemia in 1953; John Ellis “Jeb”; Neil; Marvin; and Dorothy “Doro” Bush left the Navy in September 1945 to attend Yale. After World War II, many veterans attended college and university. His fast-track economics degree helped him graduate in 1948. He participated at Yale. He was baseball captain. He was a member of Skull & Bones, a college secret club.

Life as a President

Bush prioritized international policy. On December 20, 1989, he invaded Panama to topple brutal, drug-trafficking Gen. Manuel Noriega. The four-day invasion, which mainly murdered Panamanians, was denounced by the OAS and UN.

In November 1990, Bush and Gorbachev signed a nonaggression treaty, ending the Cold War. They struck arrangements to reduce Cold War-era weaponry.

August 1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait. Bush led a UN-approved embargo against Iraq to force its withdrawal and dispatched U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to counter Iraqi intimidation. His greatest diplomatic achievement was uniting western and Arab forces against Iraq. Bush quickly deployed 500,000 troops to the Persian Gulf. He ordered a U.S.-led air attack on January 16–17, 1991, when Iraq didn’t leave Kuwait. In February, allies destroyed Iraq’s army and regained Kuwait’s independence.

George W. Bush (43rd President of the United States of America)

2001 – 2009

World Economic Forum - George Bush - World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2008

Early Life and Career

George W. Bush (born July 6, 1946, New Haven, Conn.), 43rd U.S. president (2001–09).

Bush is the eldest of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush’s six children. Prescott Bush was a senator representing Connecticut (1952–63). Bush Jr. grew up in Midland and Houston. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, from 1961 to 1964. In 1968, he graduated from Yale, his father’s and grandfather’s alma school. Bush was president of his fraternity and a member of Yale’s Skull & Bones club, although he was an average student and athlete.

Life as a Pilot

George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968, joined the Texas Air National Guard’s 147th Fighter Group at Ellington Field, and served as an F-102 fighter pilot until 1973.

After two years of active-duty training, he was deployed to Houston’s Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base to fly Convair F-102s.  Critics, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, say Bush was favorably handled due to his father’s political standing as a congressman, citing his selection as a pilot despite low pilot aptitude test scores and sporadic attendance. The Defense Department disclosed Bush’s Air National Guard documents in June 2005. In 1972 and 1973, he trained with the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing. He moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to help Republican Winton M. Blount’s Senate campaign.  Bush was grounded in 1972 for missing a physical. His Air Force Reserve discharge happened on November 21, 1974.

Life as a President

Bush approved tax cuts and the No Child Left Behind Act. He backed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and faith-based programs. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks altered his government by starting the war on terror and creating Department of Homeland Security. Bush invaded Afghanistan to overturn the Taliban, destroy al-Qaeda, and capture Osama bin Laden. He signed the Patriot Act to allow terrorist surveillance. Bush ordered the Iraq War in 2003, falsely claiming Saddam Hussein had WMD. Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act, creating Medicare Part D and supporting PEPFAR.


Pilots can act and make judgments with confidence because they are confident that they can handle the consequences of their actions. They can effectively manage and act on several objectives and initiatives at the same time. They have the ability to solve complex problems that others may find difficult. So it’s no surprise that these pilots went on to become President of the United States.