Iowa History Daily: August 6 - Paul Tibbets and Enola Gay

Iowa History Daily: On August 6, 1945, Paul Tibbets, formerly of Davenport and Des Moines, piloted a plane named for his Glidden, Iowa-born mother, Enola Gay, on a mission to drop the first atomic bomb on Japan. The bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” fell for 43 seconds from a distance of 1,890 feet at 8:15 a.m. local time before exploding and wreaking havoc on the 250,000 citizen city of Hiroshima.

Born in Quincy, Illinois during 1915 to Paul Sr. and Enola Gay Haggard, Tibbets moved to Davenport when only three years old. Later in childhood, the family continued west to settle in Des Moines. Occupying a white house with green shutters on Waterbury Road, the Tibbets family stayed in Des Moines for several years. When winters became too much for the elder Paul Tibbets, the family relocated to Florida.

Tibbets often returned to Iowa during his adolescence for prolonged summer vacations to his uncle's farm. Eventually developing a significant interest in flying, and entered the Army Air Corps on February 25, 1937. As World War II raged, Tibbets found himself all over the globe. Flying out of England and Algeria initially, he returned stateside to serve as a test pilot on the B-29 before the military tabbed him for a top-secret mission.

Moving to Wendover Army Air Base in Utah, Tibbets started flying a plane he named for his mother Enola Gay. On August 5, 1944, President Harry Truman ordered the mission a ‘go,’ and just hours later the crew embarked on a historic mission to drop the first atomic bomb. The 29-year-old Tibbets served as commander and pilot on the fateful flight over Hiroshima which killed over 100,000 people while also being credited with ending the war. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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