Prior to the United States’ entry into World War II, a number of joint agreements were instituted between the United States and the United Kingdom, including the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the British Flying Training Schools and the Arnold Scheme. Each one involved training airmen from the U.K. at facilities in the United States. The British Flying Training School involved seven locations where training was carried out. From west to east, they were Lancaster, California; Mesa, Arizona; Sweetwater, Texas; Terrell, Texas; Ponca City, Oklahoma; Miami, Oklahoma and Clewiston, Florida. The school at Sweetwater was only open a few months, but the school at Terrell was in operation from 1941 to 1945.
Category Archives: aviation
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The origin of the name of Pyote, Texas is unknown, but possibly derived either from a mispronunciation of the word “coyote” by foreign railroad workers or it was a variation of the word peyote, the name of a local cactus plant. Pyote is located roughly about halfway between Pecos and Monahans in Ward County, Texas. It has had two notable “boomlets” in its history, the first after oil was discovered in the area around 1920 and a second during World War II.
Lt. Col. William Edward “Ed” Dyess was born August 9, 1916 to Richard T. Dyess, a judge, and Hallie Graham-Dyess in Albany, Texas. Dyess grew up working on the family farm and also held a number of odd jobs. He was a Boy Scout, but had trouble attending meetings while he was also working. The story is told of him that one week, a carnival had performed in Albany about the same time as he brought home a poor report card from school. He is said to have told his parents that it was all right, he was going to join the carnival anyway when he got older.
Wiley Hardeman Post was born November 22, 1898 near Grand Saline, Van Zandt County, Texas to William Francis and Mae Quinlan Post. His family were cotton farmers and moved to Oklahoma when Wiley was five years old, finally settling close to Maysville. He was exposed to flying at a local county fair when he was about twenty years old. It inspired him to take flying lessons, though he did not begin flying on his own until later but took a construction job.
Eddie Stinson had begun his career in aviation in San Antonio, Texas and was the brother of pioneer aviatrix, Katherine Stinson. Katherine was a prodigy in the new world of aviation. The youngest of four children, she had been captivated by the lure of airplanes, so much so that she sold her piano to raise the money for flying lessons. The year was 1912, only a few short years after the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight in 1903. Her first solo flight was in a similar-looking aircraft to the Kitty Hawk plane, which more nearly resembled a box kite than what we know as an aircraft. She said that at the time, it was supposed to take 250 minutes of flying lessons to learn how to fly. Katherine quickly took to it and indeed soloed after four hours of flying lessons. Licensing requirements were not as strict back then. Katherine said that all she had to do was climb to 800 feet, do some figure-eights, glide with the power off and make a smooth landing. She was the fourth woman ever to obtain a pilot’s license.
Alfonso Laurell Harris was born March 26, 1926 at old Parkland Hospital a few miles from his home. He was a good student and entered Booker T. Washington High School at age 11, allowing him to graduate when he was just 15. He he later moved to the Northwest and began working as an aircraft engine inspector in Ogden, Utah. On July 14, 1944 he enlisted in the US Army, shortly after his 18th birthday at nearby Fort Douglas, Utah. As it did for hundreds of thousands of others, the terms of his enlistment read “Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.”
Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris, touching down at his destination on May 21, 1927. He had won the $25,000 Orteig Prize and achieved almost instant notoriety around the world. Lindbergh been the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in his Ryan monoplane he had named the “Spirit of St. Louis” that now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. It took him 33 1/2 hours to cover the 3,610 miles. Prior to this flight, Lindbergh had been a mail pilot when he’d heard of the prize and began to plan for the flight.