The San Diego Air & Space Museum Remembers Bud Anderson

Brig. Gen. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, the last of the American World War II triple aces, died at his home in Auburn, California, on Friday May 17, 2024. He was 102.

In a statement on his website, his family said he “passed away in his home peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family. We were blessed to have him as our father. Dad lived an amazing life and was loved by many.”

Anderson was inducted into the prestigious International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in 2013.

“Aviation and space exploration, as embodied by the honorees in the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, directly represents the human pioneering and exploring spirit. Anyone alive who has ever flown a fighter plane looked up to Bud Anderson and the men who flew like him during a time of our country’s greatest need,” said Jim Kidrick, President & CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. “Bud was an American hero, a true gentleman and great friend of the Museum. The San Diego Air & Space Museum mourns his loss while remembering him fondly for his incredible achievements. Our thoughts are with him and his family.”

Since 1963, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame has honored the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers and space explorers. Anderson entered the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in 2013.

The California native, born in Oakland on January 13, 1922, was also the oldest living American fighter ace.

By the age of 22 Anderson had served two combat tours with the 363rd Fighter Squadron and had flown 116 combat missions against the Luftwaffe, scoring 16.25 victories in then relatively new P51 Mustang, becoming a triple ace. Of note, neither he nor any of his famous “Old Crow” Mustangs were ever hit by enemy fire.

Following the war Anderson served as a test pilot at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in the role of Chief of Fighter Operation before transferring to Muroc Lake, now Edwards Air Force Base, taking on a similar duty as Chief of Flight Operations. He also commanded three fighter organizations at the squadron wing level, including the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing in Vietnam.

After his Air Force retirement, Anderson managed the McDonnell Aircraft Company’s flight test facility at Edwards AFB until 1998.

During his career, he flew over 130 types of aircraft and logged over 7,500 hours. He was described by Brigadier General Chuck Yeager as “The best fighter pilot I ever saw.”

With over 30 years of service, Anderson received more than 25 awards and citations for his extraordinary service, including five Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, as well as two Legions of Merit. He is a life member of the American Fighter Aces Association and a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the prestigious International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in 2013.

He was promoted to the honorary rank of brigadier general in 2022 by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.

Anderson is survived by two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A one-on-one interview with Anderson – the most viewed in the Museum’s annals – can be found on YouTube at

The International Air & Space Hall of Fame is the most prestigious induction of its kind in the world and is composed of hundreds of air and space pioneers, engineers, inventors and innovators, along with adventurers, scientists and industry leaders. NASA Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are honored in the Hall, as well as famous legends such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. Notable inductees also include Buzz Aldrin, Igor Sikorsky, Wernher von Braun, Jack Northrop, Jackie Cochran, William Boeing, Sr., Reuben H. Fleet, Glenn Curtiss, Walter Zable Sr., Fran Bera, Wally Schirra, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, T. Claude Ryan, Jimmy Doolittle, Bob Hoover, Ellen Ochoa, Peggy Whitson, Linden Blue, Patty Wagstaff, and many more. See the following link:

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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