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British Flight Training Museum Trip, July, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 9:00am
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Twenty-two TIAA members braved the steaming summer temperatures on July 20 to visit the British Flight Training Museum in Terrell, TX. A short movie showed us why this endeavor developed thanks to Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. The Battle of Britain in 1940 caused many RAF fatalities. Since it was too difficult to train pilots in Britain due to their inclement weather and Roosevelt had bragged about the beautiful, blue skies of Texas, the first of seven British Flying Training Schools in the USA was built in Terrell.  A personal tour by docents told us that in August 1941 the first group of pilots-to-be boarded a ship to Canada where they resigned their commission and changed into civilian clothes to avoid detection.  They then boarded trains to invade a bare cotton field in Texas and found that their woolen winter overcoats were not going to be needed but that the warm and welcoming folks in Terrell were. The motto of the #1 BFTS was "The seas divide but the skies unite." Almost 2,000 young British men along with approximately 150 Americans earned their wings in Terrell from 1941-1945 during six months of flight training.  (Sadly, twenty of them still reside at the Terrell Cemetery.) We enjoyed the newly-remodeled museum containing hundreds of artifacts including a British motorcycle born from spare parts found in an English warehouse after WWII ended. Then we viewed a British airplane that is being recreated by volunteers in a separate hanger on the property. Being hungry we hopped back on the bus and drove to a little Terrell sandwich shop for lunch, capped it off with a stop at Buc-ee's to bring home some goodies and made it back to TI by 2:30 pm.