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When the US entry into WWII was imminent, General Hap Arnold, chief of Army Air Corps, proposed the Civilian Pilot Training plan. A group of investors and Hollywood actors built several such pilot training bases in Arizona. In 1941 one of these, became the No.4 British Flying Training School (NO. 4 BFTS) at Falcon Field. Over the next four years more than 2,000 Royal Air Force cadets would travel by ship from England to Canada, followed by a five day train trip across the country to AZ. They arrived to wide open spaces, plenty of sunshine and oranges, to their delight! These young men would start in the primary trainer P-17 Stearman bi-plane, many with no experience, some never having even driven a car.

They would progress to the advanced trainer AT-6 Texan or Vultee aircraft (Harvard to the British). On weekends, cars would line up outside the base to take cadets for a home cooked meal and Mesa hospitality. Many Mesa residents worked at the base. In fact, over 250 employees were needed to keep the school running from instructors to cooks, and grounds keepers to secretaries.

After finishing their 28 week program and being tossed into the swimming pool commemorating their graduation, they would return to England, and the war. However, unfortunately 23 cadets who perished in training accidents, would not. They are buried together in the Mesa Cemetery and honored every year at our Remembrance Day ceremony at the cemetery.

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