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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Col Reade F Tilley USAF (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50
|A native of Clearwater, Florida, Reade Tilley grew up with a love for competition in the fast lane. This made Reade natural for driving race cars and the military equivalent; fighter pilot. After attending the St. Petersburg College in Florida and the University of Texas at Austin, Reade was faced with the difficult choice of deciding whether to continue to pursue his race car driving career or become a fighter pilot. With war raging in Europe, Reade opted for the latter, and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. In 1941 he was assigned to No. 121 Eagle Squadron of the RAF. This was one of the three American-manned squadrons in the RAF. Reading of the horrific air attacks being endured by the people of the besieged Island of Malta, Reade volunteered for a daring mission to launch landbased Spitfires from the USS Wasp to relieve the forces on the island. On the morning of April 20, 1942 forty-seven Spits, including one flown by Tilley, were launched from the Wasp. The arrival of these fighters was very important in saving the strategic island from annihilation by the Nazis. Arriving safely in Malta, Tilley would soon fly in combat, and on his second mission he would down a Bf-109. The Luftwaffe launched an all-out effort to destroy the recently arrived Spitfires, and within a matter of days all of the newly arrived aircraft were either destroyed or damaged. In June Tilley returned to Gibraltar and led another flight of Spitfires to Malta, this time from the deck of the HMS Eagle. During his combat tours at Malta, Tilley attained a total of seven confirmed aerial victories, two probables, and five damaged. He was one of the first two American pilots to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during the defense of Malta. The citation reads in part: "... on three occasions by making feint attacks after having expended his ammunition he successfully drove off enemy fighters attempting to machine gun our aircraft as they landed ..." Reade was promoted to Flying Officer in August of 1942, and in October he transferred to the USAAC with the rank of Captain. In early 1944 he was promoted to the rank of Major. Tilley remained with the USAF following the War and served initially with the USAFE, the Air Forces in Europe, where he was involved with the Berlin Air Lift. Later Tilley would serve with the Strategic Air Command. Promoted to Colonel in 1955, he served as the Director of Public Information for General Curtis LeMay. During this period Tilley was able to hone his race car driving skills as a member of the SAC Racing Team. Driving an Allard, Tilley competed against some of the top professional drivers of the era in a series of road race competitions at Air Force bases throughout the country. Reade also served as Director of Information for Pacific Air Forces during the Vietnam War. After retiring from the Air Force, he became a consultant. Reade Tilley passed away in 2001.|
|The Aircraft :|
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