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BP_AT-6-No2-WEB.jpg

"BP" Coded AT-6 based at BFTS No. 4, Mesa, AZ

USAAF Photo from the Collection of Erick Johnson

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The British Flying Training Schools (BFTS)

The British FlyingTraining Schools represents the classic "All-Through School" as described on the Home page of this site. The RAF cadets training at the referenced fields utilized the PT-17 or PT-19 for primary, then the BT-13 for basic and finally the AT-6 for their flying qualification.Typically each BFTS location was provided with forty each of the three types of aircraft. Starting in November 1942 the RAF began withdrawing the BT-13 Valiant aircraft from basic flying training and cadets transitioned directly from primary to advanced.  Coincidently, this updated program replicates the identical training format standardized by the RAF in the UK (i.e. EFTS then SFTS). Given the RAF success of this revised flying training plan both the USAAF and USN commenced an identical training format in 1943.   
 
Historical notes
 
  • The BFTS schools graduated 6602 RAF pilots and 551 USAAF pilots.
  • USAAF pilots who graduated were awarded both RAF wings and USAAF wings for their uniforms.  
  • The infrastructure at each of the BFTS's was entirely civilian...including flight instructors. The CO of each base was a RAF officer.
  • RAF cadets were given 10-15 hours of flight time at an EFTS prior to departure from the UK. The intent was to reduce stateside wash-out rate.
  • Each new class started with about 100 cadets. Due to arrival issues by the RAF any short fall was made up by adding USAAF cadets.   
 

For further in depth reading on the subject of the BFTS flight training in the US I have listed several key reference books as follows:
 
Killebrew, Tom. "The Royal Air Force in American Skies", 443 pages,  ISBN 1-57441-615-2  
Killebrew, Tom. "The Royal Air Force in Texas", 182 pages, ISBN 1-57441-272-7
Largent, W. "RAF Wings over Florida", 258 pages, ISBN 1-55753-203-6 
 
 
Further Notes on Other North American British Flight Programs
 
BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Program) 
 
The BCATP was an immense program for training pilots and aircrew from all the countries within the Commonwealth. This program was informally known as "The Plan". At wars end a grand
total of 131,500 flight personnel had been trained of which 49,800 were pilots. Below are sources for further research.
  • en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Commonwealth_Air_Training_Plan
  • Dunmore, Spencer. "WIngs for Victory", 399 pages ISBN 0-7710-2918-7
 

Towers Scheme
 
This program was established by the U.S. Navy for training British Royal Navy Pilots for the Fleet Air Arm.  According to the limited research that is available Primary training was perfomed
at NAS Grosse Ile, MI and at NAS Corpus Christi, TX. Advanced training was completed at NAS Pensacola, FL where 2,775 were awarded both US Navy and Royal Navy wings for their uniforms.
 
 
Arnold Scheme 
 
This was the early plan where RAF cadets were trained jointly with USAAF cadets at the Darr and Riddle schools in Florida. 
The Arnold Scheme eventuallly evolved into the BFTS program. Total RAF graduates from this program numbered 1313.
 
 
 
 
Summary of British Flight Training in North America 
 
USA: 13,673 Ref: "Royal Air Force in Texas" pg 152, by Tom Killebrew  
Canada: 49,800 Ref: BCATP file above
 
Total: 63,473 
 
     
 
  

BFTS

Location

Contract School

Field Codes

Code Letter Source

No. 1

Terrell, TX

Terrell Aviation School

 K(...), S, J, V

alphabet mix

No. 2

Lancaster, CA

Polaris Flight Academy

BL

British Lancaster

No. 3

Miami, OK

Spartan School

W, H(x,y), O, H, B

alphabet mix

No. 4

Mesa, AZ

Southwest Airways

BP

British Phoenix

No. 5

Clewiston, FL

Riddle-McKay Aero School

A(x), B(x), C(x)

A, B, C format

No. 6

Ponca City, OK

Darr School

B

British

No. 7

Sweetwater, TX

Aviation Enterprises, Ltd.

U

HoUston

                                               

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BFTS No. 1 (Terrell, TX)                 Fuselage Code: S, J, V, K(x), K(x,x) x=alpha letters A thru Z
 
Note: BFTS No.1 originally began operations at Love Field, Dallas, TX   

TerrellPT17.jpg
BFTS1AT6No2.jpg
KDA_T-6.jpg

"V" coded PT-17 based at BFTS No. 1


Photo by L. Dawson (RAF Cadet)

"V" coded AT-6 based at BFTS No. 1


Photo by L. Dawson (RAF Cadet)

   "K" series coded AT-6's based at BFTS No.1
 
 
USAAF Photo 

 


BFTS No.2  (Lancaster, CA)           Fuselage Code:  BL

 

Note: BFTS No. 2 originally began operations at Grand Central Airport, Glendale, CA 

 

BFTS2PT-17.jpg
2BFTSBT13No2.jpg
BFTS2AT-6.jpg
LancPT17.jpg

"BL" coded PT-17 based at BFTS No.2
 
 
P/O Thomas Forbes Collection 

"BL" coded BT-13 based at BFTS No.2
 
P/O Thomas Forbes Collection 
 

"BL" coded AT-6 based at BFTS No.2
 
P/O Thomas Forbes Collection 

"BL" coded PT-17 based at BFTS No.2
 
Photo Courtesy of the Ken Crist Collection 

 
Note that the size of the field letter code  "BL" is inconsistant with the size of the of field number. 

 

 

 

 

BFTS No. 3 (Miami, OK)                 Fuselage Code: B, H, W, O, H(x,x)  x=Alpha letters A thru Z

 

Note: Miami was the only BFTS to utilize the Fairchild PT-19 for the primary phase of flying training. 


PT19H21.jpg
AT6W31.jpg
AT6O41.jpg

"H" coded PT-19 based at BFTS No.3

( A former Randolph Field aircraft) 


Courtesy of the Paul Roales Collection

"W" coded AT-6 based at BFTS No.3


Courtesy of the Paul Roales Collection

"O" coded AT-6 based at BFTS No.3

(A former Brooks Field aircraft) 


Courtesy of the Paul Roales Collection 

HABAT6.jpg
MiaBT-13.jpg

"HAB" coded AT-6 from BFTS No. 3


Photo courtesy of the Mike Starmer Collection

 

"B" coded BT-13 based at BFTS No.3
(code on cowling only) 
 
Photo from the Collection of Paul Roales 
 

 

 

BFTS No.4 (Falcon Field, Mesa, AZ)         Fuselage Code: BP


FacBT-13.jpg
AT-6A.jpg
FalconBWPT-17.jpg

"BP" coded BT-13 based at BFTS No. 4


USAAF Photo from the Collection of S. Hoza

  "BP" coded AT-6 based at BFTS No. 4


Photo courtesy of the Mike Starmer Collection

"BP" coded PT-17 based at BFTS No. 4
 
 
Photo from the Collection of Chris Baird 

 


BFTS No. 5 (Clewiston, FL)         Fuselage Code: A(x), B(x), C(x)   x= alpha letters A thru Z


ClewAT-6.jpg
Clew_AT-6.jpg
BFTSNo5AT-6.jpg

"AX" coded AT-6 based at BFTS No. 5


Courtesy of the BFTS No.5 Museum

"CC" & "CD" coded AT-6's based at BFTS No. 5
 
 
Photo courtesy of the Ken Crist Collection 

"AJ" coded AT-6 based at No. 5 BFTS
 
 
Photo from the Collection of Brian Hastings 
 
 

 


 

 

BFTS No. 6 Ponca City, OK            Fuselage Code: B

 

PoncaBT-13REV.jpg
PoncaPT-17.jpg
BFTS6_AT6.jpg

"B" coded BT-13 based at BFTS No. 6


USAAF photo from the Paul Denson Collection

 

"B" coded PT-17 based at BFTS No. 6


Photo by Cliff Nemo

"B" Coded AT-6 based at BFTS No. 6
 
USAAF Photo from the Collection of Ken Crist 

 

 

BFTS No. 7 (Sweetwater , TX)          Fuselage Code:  U and possibly BU

 

There was only one class ever at this field (Primary). 


 

SwtrPT-17.jpg

"U" coded PT-17 previously used at BFTS No.7
 
Photo Courtesy of TWU Collection 
 

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