During basic flight training, a cadet received approximately 70 hours in the air during a nine week period. The advance training made military pilots of those who had learned only the fundamentals of flight in primary school.
In addition to operating an airplane of greater weight, horsepower, and speed such as the BT-9 or BT-13, the cadet was taught how to fly at night, by instruments, in formation, and on cross-country from one point to another. Also, for the first time, he was operating a plane equipped with a two-way radio and a two-pitch propeller. This was the point in his career where it was decided whether he would go to single-engine or twin-engine advanced flying school.
Advanced flying school was to prepare a cadet for the kind of airplane he was to fly in combat, either single or multi-engine. Those who went to single-engine school flew AT-6s for the first 70 hours during a nine week period, learning aerial gunnery and combat maneuvers and incresing their skills in navigation, formation, and instrument flying.
Cadets assigned to twin-engine school received the same number of flying hours but did not practice combat aerobatics or gunnery. Using the AT-9, AT-10, or AT-17, they directed their efforts toward increasing their ability to fly on instruments, at night, and in formation after first having mastered the art of flying a plane having more than one engine.
The successful completion of pilot training was a difficult as well as a dangerous task. During the four-and-a-half year period of January 1941 - August 1945, there were 191,654 cadets who were awarded pilot wings. However, there were also 132,993 who "washed out" or were killed during training, a loss rate of approximately 40 percent due to accidents, academic or physical problems, and other causes.
Those who graduated from flying school were usually assigned to transition training in the type of plane they were to fly in combat. Some were assigned to specific squadrons already scheduled for overseas duty, while others were assigned to replacement training units for subsequent assignment to squadrons already overseas. Regardless, it required two months of additional training before a pilot was considered ready for combat.
Transition Training >>