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"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.   
 
Factoids of Interest
 
  • 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 
 
  
 
  

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

 

 
 

 
BFTS No. 1 (Terrell, TX)                 Fuselage Code: S, J, V, K(x), K(x,x) x=alpha letters A thru Z


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"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 from Chris Brame Collection

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

 

 

Auxiliary Airfields:  Griffin Field, Boykin Field, Tarver Field,  Wills Point (CAA) 

 

  

 

 

 

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

 

  

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"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 

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

Auxiliary airfields:  Liberty Field, Victory Field
 

War Eagle Field: https://www.airfieldsfreeman.com/CA/Airfields_CA_PalmdaleN.htm#wareagle
 

 

  

 

 

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

 

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"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

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"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 
 

 

Miami was the only BFTS that utilized the Fairchild PT-19 for the Primary phase of flying training.

 

Auxiliary Airfields:  Stagehouse Field, Collinsville, Swalley Field.

 

 

  

 

 

 

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

  

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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 

 


 Auxiliary Airfields: Mesa Field, 

 

 

 

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


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Clew_AT-6.jpg
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"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 
 
 

 


 Auxiliary airfields: Belle Glade, Pahokee, Immokalee, La Belle, Okeechobee

 

 

 

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

 

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PoncaPT-17.jpg
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"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 

 

 Auxiliary Airfields: Unknown

 

 

 

 

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

 

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


 

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

 

 Auxiliary Airfields: Unknown

 

 

 

Further Notes on Other British Flight Training Programs in North America

 

BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan)

 

 The BCATP was an immense training program for pilots and and aircrew from all the countries within the Commonwealth. This program was informally known as "The Plan".

At the wars end a grand total of 131,000 flight personnel had been trained of which 49,800 were pilots. Below are some sources for futher reserach.

 

  • Wikipedia: British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
  • "Wings for Victory" by Spencer Dunmore, 399 pages, ISBN 07710-2918-7 
 
 
The Towers Scheme
 
This program was established by the US Navy for the training of British Royal Navy pilots for the Fleet Air Arm. According to the limilted research that is available primary training was performed at NAS Gross Ile, MI and at NAS Corpus Christi, TX.  Advanced training was completed at NAS Pensacola,FL where 2,775 were awarded both USN and RN wings for their uniforms. 
 
  
 
The Arnold Plan 
 
This was an early plan where both USAAF and RAF cadets were trained jointly at the Darr and Riddle schools in Florida. A grand total of 1313 RAF pilots graduated under the Arnold plan which eventually evolved into the BCATP.

  

 

 

 

 

 

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