It's not a large place; it has the feel of someone's private collection that they have set up in a garage. It's...cozy, if that makes sense, and FULL of cool stuff!
The BFTS came about from a collaboration between Churchill and Roosevelt. The Brits needed pilot training desperately, the US could provide it. The pilots were shipped from England to Canada, "decommissioned" from the RAF, then brought to Texas as civilians - this was to protect them. After Pearl Harbor, this was dropped, and the pilots could wear their RAF uniforms in public. The newspaper articles are way cool - NO ONE could believe that foreign folk were coming *here* - Terrell is still a po-dunk town!
Eventually, there were 7 BFTSs in the US; this one is the only one that continued operation after Pearl Harbor. They trained 2200+ British pilots (and only lost...35, I think. THAT's not bad!) and 200+ US pilots here. There's a cemetery for the pilots near the air field (I want to visit that next time)....
I took some photos, but not as many as I should have. We'll be going back - especially when we hit WWII this year, and I'll get more. I'm only going to post 4 of them:
This is from a display of class notes - it's a cadet's notes on plane mechanics. (I think.....) They had flight logs, permits, ration books...LOTS of stuff.
This is a map that they used to train the pilots to calculate distance. The overlay is England (you can't see the Continent, but it's there, too - this is a HUGE map!); the topographical map underneath is Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. They calculated the distances between "important" cities, and overlaid them on Texas et al cities. London is Terrell.....I knew England was small...but to SEE it inside Texas was...mind-blowing. Seriously.
This is a bomb sight removed from one of the fighter planes - it's HUGE. You don't realize how much technology has micro-sized stuff until you see things like this!
They have a weapons display, with weapons from the main countries involved in WWII. They have a huge Audie Murphy display (he's a Texan!), and a lot of stuff from the surviving pilots. They also have a set of Japanese binoculars - they're a good 2' long! (HUGE. And metal - probably heavy!)
It was fascinating - even Himself, who tries to be bored was into this.
Oh! At the beginning of the "tour", they play this.
(I tried to embed it, but it wouldn't. It's about 10 minutes long, but well worth the time!)
Raining again today - we're home. I have work-work to do, and the kids need to tidy their rooms and pack.
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