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USAAF Contract Flying School Airfields

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Title: USAAF Contract Flying School Airfields  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Army Air Forces Training Command
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

USAAF Contract Flying School Airfields

During World War II civilian flying schools, under government contract, provided a considerable part of the flying training effort undertaken by the United States Army Air Forces. To the flying cadets, the contract flying schools (commonly referred to as CFS's) were just another training assignment -- although the flight instructors were civilian contractors, the cadets still experienced the discipline and drudgery of military life.

However, in the strictest sense, these schools were not owned or leased by the USAAF, and for the most part, they were not designated or activated as Army Air Fields. In official Army Air Forces directories, they were listed by the name of the civilian flying school, the name of the airport on which it operated, or sometimes just by the city name. Most of these properties (land, buildings, hangars, and unmovable equipment) were purchased from the civilian contractors by the Defense Plant Corporation (DPC). This effectively made them government property, although they continued to be operated by the civilian contractors.

The CFS's were assigned to the various Flying Training Commands, and each had a designated USAAF Flying Training Detachment assigned for supervision and liaison with the command. According to the contract, the government supplied students with training aircraft, flying clothes, textbooks, and equipment. Schools furnished instructors, training sites and facilities, aircraft maintenance, quarters, and mess halls. From the Air Corps, schools received a flat fee of $1,170 for each graduate and $18 per flying hour for students eliminated from training. Trainers used were primarily Fairchild PT-19s, PT-17 Stearmans and Ryan PT-22s, although a wide variety of other types could be found at the airfields.

A subset of the CFS's were Glider Training Schools. Their mission was to train unpowered glider pilots; not powered aircraft pilots. Using C-47 Skytrains as tow tugs, they specialized on training pilots for the CG-4A Waco and British Airspeed Horsas the pilots would eventually fly into combat during several operations primarily in the European Theater.

At one time or another during World War II, 64 contract schools conducted primary training, with a maximum of 56 schools operating at any one time. During the course of the war, the schools graduated approximately 250,000 student pilots.

All of the CFS's were inactivated by the end of the war, and were either turned over to the War Assets Administration (WAA) for disposal, or sold back to their previous private owners. Most today are small general aviation airports; some are major municipal airports, and some were abandoned with little or no evidence of their existence.


  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
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