January – September 1943
I was an Aviation Cadet (A/C) for 9 months. I felt mighty good all decked out in my Aviation Cadet Dress Uniform which we wore to town and parades.
Aviation Cadet Training started January 1943 and consisted of 4 phases:
Classification and Preflight Training
Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas for 3 months.
My training was rigorous….physically, mentally, and mechanically. There were long hours in the classroom and physical fitness but no flying. I learned about navigation, meteorology, aircraft and naval warship identification, engineering, weaponry, and of course the basics of flight. During this period, the Air Corps determined your classification as either pilot, navigator, or bombardier. I made it to Pilot.
Primary Flight Training
Cimarron Field near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for 2 months.
Here I flew for the first time…one step closer to the wild blue yonder. My first plane was a Fairchild PT19 Trainer (single engine, open cockpit, 2 seats one behind the other, fighter sticks). I flew 64 hrs.
Basic Flight Training
Strothers Army Airfield in Winfield, Kansas for 2 months.
I flew a Consolidated Vultee BT13A (larger single engine, canopied cockpit, 2 seats one behind the other, fighter sticks). Partially based on our preference, we were further classified as single-engine or multi-engine pilots. Many cadets preferred single-engine since they would be flying fighters which was more glamorous and easier without responsibility for a crew. However, I requested multi-engine since this would better prepare me for my dream of becoming a commercial pilot after the war. I flew 83 hrs for a total of 147 hrs.
Advanced Flight Training
Altus Army Airfield in Altus, Oklahoma for 2 months.
I flew a Cessna AF17 (twin engine, enclosed cockpit, 2 seats side by side, 3/4 wheel). I flew 71 hrs as the pilot and 50 hours as the copilot for a total of 268 hrs to date.