Plainview PGS Article 16

Aulyne Breedlove’s cousin trained at Finney Field, flew four combat missions

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 16th article in a series about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field.

From a 1957 interview to Sylvan Dunn of Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University, Mrs. Aulyne King Breedlove told Dunn about how the Army Air Forces gave her husband, Clent, just thirty-six hours’ notice to begin training pilots in the pre-glider phase at Finney Field in the spring of 1942.

Aulyne Breedlove recalled several interesting points about the training at Finney Field.  The pilots used flashlights on the wings of their planes during this time at Plainview while performing nighttime flying.

They would go up to a certain altitude and cut off power to the engine.  They would come in for a landing “dead stick”.

“They were coming in like flies.  The minute the plane would land on the ground the crew would pull it off to the side, start up the engine again and take it back to the front of the runway to be used again by the next student pilot”, recalled Mrs. Breedlove.

The men on the ground would give the pilots a green signal light to cut off his engine and to come in and land “dead stick”.

They used the red and green signals on the ground to control the air traffic.

“If there was trouble on the ground, then they would give the pilot a red signal and he would have to land somewhere else,” said Aulyne.  She remembered that this did not happen too often, however.

Records indicate that the training school at Plainview was officially known as a basic glider school, although the term “dead stick” school was often used to describe this type of glider training site.

Aulyne’s cousin trained with a group of glider pilots at Finney Field which was led by Hollywood movie star Jackie Coogan.  Coogan later took in the first bunch of gliders into enemy territory in Operation Thursday, landing in Burma in March of 1944.

But Aulyne’s cousin took a different route in the glider program from Coogan.  Instead, he headed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) after his training ended.  Her cousin’s name was “Boots” King.

King landed his WACO CG-4A glider in German territory during Operation Varsity on March 24, 1945. 

“They shot him down in the back”, said Aulyne.

One American soldier, who was hidden and could not fire back at the enemy, later told Mrs. Breedlove, that the enemy troops had shot King in the back, mortally wounding him.

Aulyne Breedlove recalled something special about her cousin, “Boots” King, “He realized that he was not coming back because he had written a letter before [he left].”

In a recent interview with Charles Day, Secretary of the National WWII Glider Pilots’ Association, he provided many details from the glider pilots’ database about C. B. “Boots” King.

“The name ‘C. B. King’ appeared on some orders”, Day stated.  He was basically in the same training group of glider pilots as were the ‘slaughterhouse’ men.  The ‘slaughterhouse’ men were a group of five pilots who died during a glider crash at Dalhart Army Air Field on the night of January 25-26, 1943.”

So after King completed his pre-glider training at Plainview’s Finney Field, he most likely had primary glider training at another air field and then went on to Dalhart Army Air Field for advanced glider training.

Day stated that for the orders he found on King, he is listed as C. B. (I.O.) King.  Day is not certain, but he thinks that the “I.O.” indicated “Initials Only”, and that no given name was used by him or supplied to the Army Air Forces.

King’s enlisted serial number was 18110958.  He graduated from Dalhart AAF in Class 43-1 on January 6, 1943 with the Flight Officer serial number of T120663.

Day continued by stating that King went to Europe and flew four glider combat missions:  Normandy, Southern France, Market-Garden and Varsity.  He was killed March 23, 1945 during Operation Varsity in Germany.

Day does not have any other details about King except a listing of the medals that were awarded to him:  a posthumous Purple Heart, the Orange Lanyard for Market-Garden, the Air Medal for the Normandy landings and one Oak Leaf Cluster for each of the following operations:  Southern France, Market-Garden and Varsity.

More information about the glider pilots of WWII can be found online at the National WWII Glider Pilots website at

Readers are also asked to visit the Silent Wings Museum website at and for more details about the glider program of WWII.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at (806)793-4448 or email

WACO CG-4A Gliders enroute to Holland for Operation Market-Garden, September 17, 1944.
Photo courtesy Mr. Charles Day, Secretary of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association.
Mr. Day is a graduate of The Ohio State University and resides in Michigan.