Fly-In column

Gary E. Lindsley

Aircraft that were instrumental for the United States and its allies during World War II are taking to the air yet again on Saturday in Terrell.

It is time for the 8th Annual No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum’s Flights of Our Fathers Fly-In.

This year, though, it is going to take on an added flavor, that of an airshow with Randy Ball flying his Mig jet and Adam Baker in his Extra 330 — both Ball and Baker are Texans, by the way — performing aerobatics.

The fly-in is a family-oriented event designed to remind us of the strong ties between the U.S. and England.

During the war, thousands of Royal Air Force cadets learned to fly at six civilian training schools in the U.S.

The first, and largest of the schools, according to museum officials, was the No. 1 BFTS. More than 2,000 RAF, Canadian and even American cadets learned to fly over North Texas from 1941 to 1945.

The cadets were warmly welcomed into the homes of many of Terrell’s residents. While our country was at peace in 1939, Das Fuhrer Adolph Hitler’s Luftwaffe was strafing and bombing London.

Beginning in 1941, RAF cadets were sent to Canada, removed their uniforms and took trains to Terrell to learn how to fly so they could return to their country to defend it.

Cadets learned to fly, and some died and have remained in a part of the No. 1 BFTS history. They are buried in a RAF section of the Oakland Memorial Cemetery.Today, the museum celebrates the training school’s history and the pilots’ interaction with Terrell residents with a collection including hundreds of historical items: log books, training materials, WW II memorabilia and uniforms.The museum’s archives contain an extensive record of the flying school.

And every year, planes that either flew at the school or during WW II — as well as during other military conflicts — return to the skies above Terrell.

The airshow and fly-in kick off at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday at the museum with the raising of the American and British flags.

There also will be a pancake breakfast, food vendors and aerobatic shows, which begin at about 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Falcon Flight Formation, made up of RV aircraft, also will perform during the fly-in.

Also taking part are the returning Texas V-Tails formation flying team and Carl Best in his AT-6. Best thrilled spectators during the 2014 fly-in with his flying and smoke show.

Also returning are the Kids Zone, car and motorcycle show, static displays of military, vintage and new aircraft, a Hind helicopter, food vendors, World War II re-enactors and flyovers by warbirds such as Scott Glover’s C-47.

If you do not make it to the fly-in, take a trip back in time and visit the museum at 119 Silent Wings Blvd.

The museum, which forever links the U.S. and England, may become a world-class destination if support as well as financial backing is obtained.

The plans include building a new $4 million museum next to the airport terminal as part of phase 1.It would replace the current museum and house all of its current artifacts, plus planes, including an AT-6 trainer named “Miss Pauline.”

The AT-6 was named after Pauline Bond Baxter, who trained RAF, Canadian and American cadets in Terrell.

A squadron of volunteers began to painstakingly piece together the plane back in 2013 and work continues. The plane will be on display during the airshow and fly-in.

And thanks to the graciousness of retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Phil Webb, he is going to be giving rides aboard his P-27 Stearman bi-plane, a plane actually used to train cadets during WW II.

So drive to Terrell and check out the 2015 airshow and fly-in on Saturday. It is an inexpensive way to view our country’s past. See you there.

If you want to learn about the museum, as well as the history of the school, visit www.bftsmuseum.org or visit it on Silent Wings Boulevard.

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Gary E. Lindsley may be reached at glindsley@heraldbanner.com.