Terrell, TX – No 1 British Flying School

 In Texas Goes To War

The British invaded Terrell, TX? When?

It was a friendly invasion of young men who wanted to learn to fly. Britain was already at war in 1941 and America’s Lend-Lease Act provided support for the British. With daily dogfights and notoriously bad weather, the British were desperate to train pilots to defend their country. Six civilian, flight training schools were set up across the southern United States to train British pilots. The first and largest was in Terrell, Texas.

“The seas divide but the skies unite” was the motto of the Terrell location – the No. 1 British Flying Training School – that turned out 2,200 British and, after the US entered the war, American pilots from 1941-1945. Taught by civilian instructors, the cadets received primary through advanced instruction, including instrument and night flying.

It really wasn’t an invasion….more like an adoption. With just over 10,500 residents in 1941, southern hospitality was extended to the homesick teenagers (some cadets were as young as 16!).  Local families welcomed the young men, brought them home for Sunday dinner after church, wrote their families and translated mystifying Texas expressions. Relationships have continued through several generations to the present time.

After the war, some cadets returned to marry local sweethearts and the surviving cadets – on both sides of the ocean – organized an association to keep their memories alive.  That organization grew into the No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum.

About the No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum

The No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum is now located at 119 Silent Wings Boulevard at the Terrell Municipal Airport.  The museum contains, static aircraft displays, flight simulators, logbooks, photographs, training materials, military equipment, uniforms and other memorabilia. Admission is free and is open from 10 am – 4 pm Wednesday – Saturday. More information at www.bftsmuseum.org.   

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