Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Willis “Joe” R. Kusy, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)November 06, 1921 – July 05, 2004
L/C Willis R. “Joe” Kusy, who wrote the “Ten Commandments for Helicopter Flying” 55 years ago, died on 5 July 2004. “Joe” as all of his acquaintances, friends and co-workers knew him, was a quiet, thoughtful and hardworking man in his entire life. His outstanding ability to initiate and manage new improvements while retaining his quiet approach was his life-long fortune. Lt/Col ‘Joe’ Kusy started out his military career as an enlisted Private in the Army in 1939 at the outbreak of WWII. He spent his next two 2 years in the Panama Canal in an Anti-Aircraft Artillery 2nd Battalion, where one of his tasks were to clear the jungle and build roads to Army supply stations.
After applying for Officer Candidate School in 1942, where he was awarded an ‘equivalent’ of 2 years of College education (even though he had never finished high-school). Lt “Joe” then applied for flight training in Jan 1944 and graduated in twin-engine C-47s four months later in Oklahoma. He was immediately sent to England in support of the 9th Air Force on 23 May ’44, flying cargo support, Paratroops and evacuation of wounded in France, Belgium and Germany. Upon conclusion of the war in Europe he was demobilized and re-enlisted as a MSgt. serving in recruiting duty and was then recalled to active duty a year later. One of his duties was to escort the bodies of the fallen men home for burial.
While he was acting as an Army recruiter in Richmond Center, Michigan, he met Mildred Bladow, who would become his wife for the next 52 years. Although he had requested to be assigned to photo-interpreter school, which was already over-loaded, he was “offered” an assignment to helicopter flight training with a Permanent Assignment as a Flight Instructor at San Marcos, Texas. Despite his lack of desire his orders were cut and Joe entered a new challenge with his traditional enthusiasm and focus. At this time San Marcos AB was being transferred to the Air Force. He was in first Air Force helicopter training class and was asked (ordered) to stay on, to expand the training of new pilots. Little did he know at the time that helicopters would become the interest and focus of most of the rest of his career. On 28 October ’48 he ‘soloed’ in the Sikorsky H-5 and became an Instructor.
Sometime after his first 8 hours as an instructor, he decided during a long break in flying to create a guide for students to use. After pondering some of the basics which should be in the mind of all students, he then found a young man, A2C George Nicks, to draw up some cartoons to go along with his own ideas. They decided to call their work as the: “Ten Commandments for Helicopter Flying”.
SEE HIS STORY AT THE USAFHPA WEBSITE; http://www.usafhpa.org/outstanding/joekusy.htm