Cadets from the British Royal Air Force march to their Army training planes at Hargrove Van de Graaff Airport June 10, 1941, as they prepare to begin their instruction by pilots of the Alabama Institute of Aeronautics.
As the first contingent of students, 550 RAF cadets sailed from England to Canada in late May, 1941, and boarded trains headed for flying schools at Tuscaloosa, Arcadia, FL, Americus, GA, Jackson, MS, Lakeland, FL and Camden SC. Ranging in age from 18 to 27, about 50 came to Tuscaloosa to start a primary 10-week training course. Receiving the same course of instruction that is given to American aviation cadets, their expenses are paid for by the British government. The United States would undertake to train 8,000 British fliers annually.
On Thursday, June 12, the British cadets were formally welcomed to Tuscaloosa with a parade down University Blvd. and Greensboro Avenue where they marched with cadets of the US Air Corps. Civic leaders spoke and the cadets were guests of honor at a dance at the Tuscaloosa Country Club Saturday night. Delighted by their friendly Tuscaloosa welcome, their only concern is the Alabama heat. “By jove, it’s almost as hot as Egypt,” one of the cadets remarked.
Sources: The Tuscaloosa News, The Birmingham News, and the Southeast Air Corps Training Center News at Newspapers.com