1942 Military Flying Schools
Preparation For War
- The United States government was preparing for armed conflict when war broke out in Europe in 1939. Yet, at that time the country only had 76 airfields, which a year later was expanded to 156 airfields. By the end of 1940, 20 civilian flight schools and an additional eight technical training schools "were contracted to provide additional training facilities," according to the website Absolute Astronomy.
Columbus Air Flying School
- With the declaration of war, the U.S. War Department immediately moved for the expansion of flight training schools for pilots who would be training for fighter and bomber planes. The Columbus Air Flying School received its first aircraft in early 1942. Twenty-five flight students arrived in February of 1942, according to the website for the Columbus Air Force Base. During the war, the flight school eventually graduated 195 pilots a month, for a total of 7,412 commissioned pilots.
Kirtland Air Flying School
- In February 1942, the Albuquerque Army Air base was renamed Kirtland Field, in recognition of Army pilot Col. C. Kirtland, to honor the army's oldest aviation pioneer. The flight school had the distinction of having trained the pilots of the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the war, the base had three separate schools that trained entire flight crews for the B-17 and B-24 bombers, according to the website for Kirtland Air Force Base.
- One of the most challenging aspects of the war for the U.S. War Department was to find a way to recruit and train black pilots, who were not allowed to train and fly combat airplanes. In 1940, the chief of the U.S. Air Corps moved to establish a "colored pursuit squadron at Tuskegee, Alabama," according to the LWF website. On March 7, 1942, the first class of black pilots at Tuskegee Army Air Field graduated, according to the website for the Tuskegee Airmen.