Maj Ployer Peter "Pete" Hill
Published July 25, 2007
Ployer Peter Hill, the namesake of Hill Air Force Base, was known as an extremely capable and meticulous pilot, and an officer and gentleman of truly great distinction. In an exemplary aviation career that spanned eighteen years, Hill piloted nearly 60 of the Army Air Corps' newest and best aircraft, testing and evaluating their capabilities for service.
Pete Hill was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts on 24 October 24, 1894 and attended grammar school and high school in his hometown. In 1916 he graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
The following year he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps. In 1918 he received flight instruction at the School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell University, the Aviation Concentration Camp at Camp Dix in Dallas, Texas, and at Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois. Hill then accepted a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the regular Army and served as a flying instructor before receiving instruction as a bombardment pilot.
In 1919 Hill served in the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps in Washington, D.C., then in 1920 was ordered to duty with the American Army of Occupation in Germany, where he served as the Engineer Officer of the Air Service Flying Station in Weissenthurm. In 1922 he was assigned to duty with the 12th Aero Squadron stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, then transferred back to Chanute Field for instruction in aerial photography. After completing the course he stayed on as a student instructor.
In 1924 he returned to duty in Washington, D.C., in the Training and War Plans Division under the Chief of the Air Service. In 1925 he was ordered to duty at Mitchell Field, New York, where he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 14th Photo Section, a job he held until 1929. He then served as the Commanding Officer of the 6th Photo Section at Nichols Field in Manila.
In 1932 he returned to the United States and was assigned to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he served as a test pilot and Assistant Chief of Planes and Engines in the Maintenance Unit. In 1935 he was assigned as the Chief of the Flying Branch of the Material Division at Wright Field, with the temporary rank of Major. His duties involved the flight test and evaluation of numerous new military aircraft designs at various contractors' plants, including the Consolidated P-30, the Martin B-10 and B-12, and many others.
On October 30, 1935 Ployer Peter Hill died as a result of injuries received from the crash of the Boeing experimental aircraft Model 299 at Wright Field. This aircraft was the prototype of what would later become the famous B-17 Flying Fortress of World War II. Major Hill was buried in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on November 3, 1935.
In 1939 the U.S. War Department named the site of the Ogden Air Depot "Hill Field" in honor of Major Ployer Peter Hill. In 1948 Hill Field was renamed Hill Air Force Base.