Paying Homage to All Primary Flight Instructors in Americus, Georgia

I am getting back to Theodore Griffiths’ story.

Robert Shay Jr is the instructor in the back seat. A young cadet is flying a PT-17  over Americus, Georgia. He is not Theo because Robert Shay’s name never appears in Theo’s logbook.


Primary Flight Instructor Robert Shay Jr was teaching another young cadet to fly it. 

Flight Instructor Shay

Robert F. Shay Jr

The young cadet has to be a young RAF recruit training in Americus, Georgia, just like Theodore Griffiths DFC.

PT-17 in the background

Unknown instructor with Theo Griffiths

Stephen Shay was kind enough to send me some pictures with this message…


My dad was a US Army flight instructor stationed in Americus, GA from 1940-1941. He went down there from a small airfield he and others hewed out of an old orchard in Penn Yan, NY in upstate NY in the beautiful Finger Lakes. He and Harold Middlebrook and John Oliver Goodrich were from the same small town, were pilots and answered their countries call as instructors in the Army Air Corps. They all flew and instructed on Stearman PT17s. I have attached four photos taken by Robert Shay during that time.

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The picture of the lone pilot was Robert F. Shay Jr. He died at the age of 82 in FL in 2000. The photo of the two pilots includes Bob Shay and Johnny Goodrich, both instructors from Penn Yan, NY. The plane inflight over GA had Bob Shay in it at the time.

Dad’ flight log is extant, but I cannot locate it at the present time. I know that my Dad and his life long friend Johnny Goodrich rented a couple rooms from a family in Americus, GA. It seems that with very little seat time, many young boys were sent off to fight the war in Europe out of dozens of fields like the one in Americus. I thank God for the work these instructors and students did in preparation for combat.

Rev. Stephen Shay (USMC)


PT-17s at Americus, Georgia

PT 17 Americus GA

Bob Shay and Johnny Goodrich

Now people looking for a PT-17 flying over Americus, Georgia, will find this blog.

I sure hope someone related to Harold Middlebrook or Johnny Oliver Goodrich would find it.

Next time Theo’s training at Americus, Georgia.


3 thoughts on “Paying Homage to All Primary Flight Instructors in Americus, Georgia

  1. My grandfather, Harold “Eagle” Middlebrook continued to fly a Stearman until his last days. His many aircraft are still in the family. And his family is still deeply entrenched within the aviation world today. I still find strangers to me telling me stories of learning to fly with him. Thank you for remembering these unsung heros.

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