Prop and Wings
The Prop and Wings (propeller and wings) is a military insignia used to identify various aviation-related units in the United States military. The Prop and Wings originated as branch insignia of the United States Army Air Service in 1920, and remained such from 1926 to 1947 for the successor United States Army Air Corps. Approximately 90% of all officers serving in the United States Army Air Forces were commissioned in the Air Corps and wore the insignia. Versions of the insignia are still used by the United States Air Force and the United States Army Aviation Branch.
The original Prop and Wings insignia, with rounded wingtips, is currently most closely associated with the United States Air Force Academy. The Prop and Wings is worn by cadets on their flight caps, appears on many of the Academy's class crests, and is part of the logo of the Academy's Association of Graduates. The Prop and Wings insignia is traditionally awarded to Academy cadets at the end of their grueling fourth-class (freshman) year, signifying that they have been "recognized" as upper class cadets.
Cadets in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps are awarded their Prop and Wings insignia after completing Field Training and entry into the Professional Officer Course. Officer Training School allows Basic Officer and Commissioned Officer trainees as well as National Guard Officer Candidates going through the Academy of Military Science to wear the Prop and Wings during the second half of their training.
Although the standard insignia is chrome, cadets from all commissioning sources are authorized to wear a gold Prop and Wings device if they are a direct descendant of a veteran who served in the Army Air Corps, Women Air Force Service Pilots, or were a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.