Training British Flyers
World War II required a lot of battle-ready forces, including aviators able to handle both wings and weapons, often at the same time.
But good pilots are made, not born, so when civilians joined the forces in the run up to the war the military needed to train corps of aviators to arm the air forces.
Americans were so good at training young aviators, in fact, that the British sent hundreds of their own for training, filling six civilian training schools in the U.S. The first and largest was located in Terrell, known as No. 1 British Flying Training School. Throughout the war effort, Royal Air Force and American Army Air Force aviators trained together, piloting craft over the North Texas skies between 1941 and 1945.
Today, their exploits are celebrated at the No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum located at the Terrell Municipal Airport. Here, a collection of log books, training material, memorabilia and uniforms comprise part of an archive that covers the entire British/American flight training history. The museum also sponsors fundraising events, called “Fly-Ins”, featuring pancake breakfasts, BBQ cook-offs, car shows, hot air balloon rides, vintage aircraft displays, and parachutists.
The Lakes Trail Region actually harbors a heritage of bi-national aviation history dating as far back as World War I. In 1917, the U.S., British, and Canadian governments entered into an agreement to train military pilots for combat duty, training in Texas in the winter and Canada in the summer. Camp Taliaferro in Tarrant County consisted of three air fields, providing training for soon-to-be battling aviators. But this time, it was the British showing the Americans how it was done. This was dangerous work as the historical marker at Greenwood Cemetery conveys, it commemorates the 39 officers and cadets that were killed during flight training and the twelve graves at the cemetery. Members of the Royal Flying Corp imparted their expertise and skills to thousands of American trainees, ultimately aiding in a concise victory for Allied Forces halfway around the globe.