During World War II thousands of British cadets learned to fly at six civilian training schools across the southern United States. The first and largest of the schools was in Terrell, Texas. More than 2,200 Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Corps cadets earned their wings over North Texas between 1941 and 1945.
The museum celebrates this little-known chapter of World War II history with an archive that contains the most extensive record of the No. 1 British Flying Training Schools in existence.
The collection includes hundreds of historical items: log books, training materials, WWII memorabilia, uniforms, and much more. Perhaps more importantly, the museum explores many fascinating “personal stories” behind the artifacts. These stories will give you insight into the cadets’ backgrounds, their training, and the lives they led after leaving Terrell.
Even before the outbreak of war, UK officials recognized the need to train aircrews outside its borders. Reasons for this were numerous, not the least of which was infamously bad English weather. With roughly the same landmass as Michigan, the British Isles are also limited in size, which meant friendly airspace was in short supply. With the Luftwaffe ready to strike from just across the Channel, pilots-in-training were under the very real threat of enemy attack.
In contrast, southern U.S. locales like Terrell offered wide-open, friendly skies over sparsely-populated farmland––perfect flying conditions for aircrews-in-training. Terrell’s citizens welcomed the student pilots into their homes and their community, forging many life-long bonds. It is because of these bonds the museum exists. The No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum in Terrell was started by cadets to celebrate their friendships and to remember the twenty men who died in training.