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5 British Flying Training School

The 'Arnold Scheme' (1941-43) and the British Flying Training Schools (1941-45), with the co-operation of Squadron Leader Mills DFC and President Roosevelt, enabled the setting up of flight training in the USA for RAF pilots to train alongside American servicemen. The Lend-Lease Act was instrumental in paving the way for training British pilots and aircrew in the USA and in total seven BFTS were set up in the USA in Texas, Oklahoma, California and Florida.

There were minimum requirements for each airfield used. Each BFTS was required to be one mile square with two runways and a control tower. PT-17A (Stearman) and AT-6A (Harvard) aircraft were mainly used for training giving RAF pilots an opportunity to train on more suitable aircraft than the Tiger Moths used in the UK and in an environment where they would not be under attack.

The BFTS were RAF establishments with the Commanding Officer, Adjutant, CFI’s and PT instructors being RAF personnel. American civilians became instructors trained to RAF standards.

Courses 1 and 2 did their primary training at Carlstrom but, on 25th September 1941, 5 BFTS moved from Carlstrom to Clewiston. Course 3 was the first to do their entire training at Riddle Field.

Air cadets’ training usually lasted 27 weeks and, between 1941 and 1945, 1,325 RAF 5BFTS cadets graduated from the Riddle-McKay fields at Clewiston and Carlstrom in Florida.

5 BFTS Pupil Statistics
US Civilians (in RAF) 11
USAAF Cadets 125
RAF Cadets 1741
Total Cadets: 1877

RAF 1325
Total: 1434

201 RAF Cadets from Courses 25 and 26 did not finish as Riddle Field was closed following VE day.

Overall failure rate - 23.6% (RAF 24.4% and USAAF 12.8%) Fatalities = 1%

From 23rd July 1943 Fly Paper – projected reminiscences of Course 13.

“…..Remember the day we arrived there? “Number 5 BFTS” was all we knew about it. Hot and sweating in those blues and awkward as they come. A blaze of sun and a lot of old Stearmans in the air and for us they held more glamour than all the legs in filmdom. ….. I wonder how they ever flew? Ground loops and first solos and that big hot field… the sulphur water and mosquitoes and binding… remember it Jack?

…Then the Harvards and cross countries and night flying and rat-chasing and blathering over the R/T. ….
…whatever became of Hill who stood one on its nose on the parking line and then laconically called the tower and announced he was switching off?

Ollie, who dropped one in at that little Field with the funny name up north of us, then got out and watched it burn? The American chap …Bob Agne, wasn’t it who radioed in and said he’d lost his instructor? Operations looking for a ‘chute floating down into the swamp, when all the time Bob was on the ground waiting for the Instructor to come out for a dual period? …..
And the Instructors…. They taught us well. Queer little things that stuck and will be somewhere in our minds for many more years, even if we are never nearer an airplane than an occasional glance upwards. “Pop” Ellis wasn’t it, who once remarked that the most important thing to know in aviation was when to make a 180 degree turn?....

And that little town …. Clewiston. Remember the Inn and the pub down at the other end and no money putting up with that awful American beer? Took us hours to convince the Americans that our planes were better….or did we ever convince ‘em?

There’s another snap of you here when we sneaked the camera into the airplane and landed at that place where we picked up all the grapefruit. You have a silly grin and a pillow case full of the things…Wimonta or Wimauma or something…..”
As ever, ‘Bill’ - George Morse


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Previously was
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Station Location Date
Established Riddle Field July 1941
Based Dorr Field
Based Carlstrom Field



  • Cliff Bjornsen

    Military | Chief Ground School Instructor
    Mr Cliff E Bjornsen was the Chief Ground School Instructor at 5 British Flying Training School in Florida based at Riddle Field. He was a well respected instructor and in April 1943 the Embry-Riddle Flypaper reported, " According to the latest report...

  • David Blackhall

    Military | Pilot
    David Richard Croft Blackhall was from Diseworth, Derbyshire, UK and arrived at No 5 British Flying Training School at Clewiston with the RAF students in 1942 to join Course 13. He shared a room with William Cushner at Riddle Field, Clewiston, while...

  • Peter Brannan

    Military | Corporal
    Peter Brannan was born near London on June 27, 1925. He joined the Air Training Corps at 15 and the RAF at 18 in 1943, and then spent many frustrating months doing training courses and odd jobs on bomber aerodromes. Eventually he “gained freedom” and...

  • John Broome

    Military | Pilot
    John Broome grew up near London. He enlisted with the RAF and was posted to No. 5 British Flying Training School, Riddle Field Clewiston in 1943, Course 18. After he was awarded his Wings, he returned to Britain and did a short spell of flying...

  • Murray Cash

    Military | Captain | Flight Surgeon
    Captain Murray M Cash was one of two flight surgeons at Riddle Field who provided routine medical care in the area and emergency care on the base to both RAF and USAAF personnel. He was a British subject who came from Toronto and he worked well with...

  • Ronald Cox

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot Officer
    Ronald Morley Cox was born in Bromley, Kent, UK on the 23rd March 1925. His father had fought in France during World War I with the Canadian Highlanders. Wounded on three occasions he was finally discharged in June 1919. He died in 1933. ...

  • Stuart Cox

    Military | Pilot/Officer
    Stuart Cox was born on April 1, 1923 and lived in Chipstead, Surrey. Soon after leaving school he saw an RAF advertisement for their first University Short Course entry. The RAF was ...

  • William Cushner

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot
    Born and raised in Kingston he received an associate degree from Bucknell Junior College. Serving 28 years with the active Air Reserve he had trained as a civilian pilot and, while training with the USAAF, Maxwell Field, Alabama, he was one of 15...

  • Eric Denham

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot
    Eric was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire, in 1922. His father, Major Stanley Denham, was an army officer with the York and Lancaster Regiment. In 1918 he went missing as he tried to join up in Halifax but was too young and had to return home. As soon as...

  • Jack Hayward

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot
    Sir Jack Hayward was born in Wolverhampton, UK in 1925 and volunteered for the RAF in 1941. He first trained in Yorkshire. Later he joined 5 BFTS Riddle Field, Clewiston, Florida as a trainee pilot on Course 17. Among many other postings he was...

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Date Contributor Update
01 February 2017 15:06:45 Anne Hughes Changes to description

Embry Riddle The Flypaper July 1943

Date Contributor Update
19 May 2016 14:39:05 Anne Hughes Changes to description
Dr Jenifer Harding

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2016 11:25:12 Anne Hughes Changes to description

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2016 17:54:00 Anne Hughes Changes to description

RAF Wings over Florida by Will Larsen

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2016 14:44:12 Carl Changes to stations

No 5 BFTS book

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2016 11:13:07 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations

BFTS Anniversary Book

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2016 11:04:27 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations

5BFTS Anniversary Book

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2016 10:55:49 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations

5BFTS Anniversary Book

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2016 10:44:43 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations

5BFTS Anniversary Book

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2016 14:11:15 Anne Hughes Changes to person associations

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2016 13:45:16 Anne Hughes Changes to description
The RAF in American Skies Tom Killebrew

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2016 13:42:03 Anne Hughes Changes to aircraft types


Date Contributor Update
26 April 2016 13:38:32 Anne Hughes Created entry with type and name