Concept

Observer Badge

Summary
The Observer Badge is a military badge of the United States armed forces dating from the First World War. The badge was issued to co-pilots, navigators, and flight support personnel (as air observer) who had received a variation in the training required for the standard Pilot's Badge. The Observer Badge survived through the Second World War and into the 1950s, at which time the concept of an Observer Badge was phased out in favor of the modern Aircrew Badge and Navigator-Observer Badges. In addition to wings for Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers, the United States Navy still maintains an "Observer Badge" which is issued to flight-qualified mission specialists, such as a select number of meteorologists and intelligence officers in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The U.S. Air Force awards its USAF Observer Badge, which is identical to the USAF Navigator Badge, to Air Force officers who have qualified as NASA Space Shuttle Mission Specialists, have flown an actual mission aboard the shuttle and/or the International Space Station and who are otherwise not previously aeronautically rated as an Air Force pilot or navigator. In the modern U.S. Armed Forces, the Observer Badge is rarely issued, but has seen a resurgence in the Air Forces of other countries, most notably the United Kingdom and Canada. The original Observer Badge was a half-wing variation of the Aviator Badge worn by military pilots of the United States Army Air Service and later the United States Army Air Corps. The badge was mainly awarded to gunners, spotters, and navigators on the first armed military aircraft. With the advent of bombing, the Observer Badge was also initially authorized for aircraft bombardiers. A new badge was soon created for these duties, however: the Bombing Aviator Badge. Those rated as Balloon Observers were also eligible for the badge, and the badge was typically referred to as both the Airplane Observer Badge and the Balloon Observer Badge.
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