Winfield, Kansas, May – June 1943
In May 1943 I went to Strothers Army Airfield (SAAF) in Winfield, Kansas
for 2 months of Basic Flight Training. This involved flying a larger
plane with more horsepower – the Consolidated Vultee BT13A.
Our airtime gradually increased over the next few months. We also used the Link Trainer for instrument and flight simulation. Of course, we continued with the books and physical fitness. Still no gunnery practice. That didn’t come until we trained with an entire crew. I am still not a pilot.
Advanced Flight Training
Altus, Oklahoma, July – September 1943
Then it was on to Altus Army Airfield in Altus, Oklahoma for 2 months of Advanced Flight Training in a twin-engine aircraft, a Cessna AT17.
I took my last flight 9/24/43, completed my training, received my pilot wings and was given the rank of Flight Officer (F/O). My parents traveled by train from NYC to attend my graduation. My mother pinned my wings on me. What a trip this was for them!!!! My dad’s boss (who was also my old boss) was so proud that he paid for my parents to make this trip; their first time outside the New York City area.
Yes, I had my wings but onto the real planes. After a short furlough (back home), I reported to Liberal, Kansas on 10/13/43 for B-24 Transition Training. I learned to fly the B-24, which was a huge step up from the twin engine to the four engine in size, weight, and speed.