Plainview PGS Article 7

CPT Pilots Received Primary Glider Training at Finney Field

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

This is the seventh article in a series about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School.

In a recent interview at the National WWII Glider Pilots Association annual reunion in San Antonio, Texas, Claude A. Berry told many stories about his days in Plainview training in the “dead stick” school at Finney Field.

Berry went through the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPT) in his home town of San Antonio in early 1942.  After completing his coursework in the CPT, he and his group of twelve student pilots were sent to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio briefly, then on to Plainview.

They put us up in the Hilton Hotel and it was really nice.  They would feed us breakfast between 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning.  The student pilots ate at the hotel’s café.  The Army had taken over two floors of the hotel, but the rest of the hotel was still occupied by the public.

The hotel had a nice coffee shop.  Berry remembers that he and his fellow students enjoyed hearing lots of Glen Miller records playing.  The student pilots stayed to themselves.

They also went to the movies some.  Berry once asked a local girl to go on a date with him.  He was shy but his fellow soldiers kidded him and he finally asked her to go to the movies.  Her mother worked across the street at the C. R. Anthony’s.  Berry went over to Anthony’s with this local girl to ask her mother if she could go out with me, but her mother said no.

They had ground school instruction in the morning and flight instruction in the afternoon.  The ground school instruction was given to them at the Hilton Hotel.  They had their own private room at the hotel where the classes were held.  A civilian taught them ground school.

They then took the men to a nearby airfield but Berry does not recall what the name of the airfield was called.  He does recall that the airfield had at least one hangar and an office.  There were two grass runways.  Based upon previous research, this would have been Finney Field.

They were given “dead-stick” training at Finney Field.  Berry said that they had three types of aircraft:  Aeronca’s, Taylorcraft, and Piper Cub J-3’s.

Berry said they never did any night flying.

The first time the instructor took him up they went up to about 3,000 feet.  They did some stalls and spins.  Then they would cut the engine off and glide into the runway.

Lt McIlerny from the US Army Air Forces gave Berry and the other students their check ride, which was their final test to ensure that they had mastered what they were required to learn.

Berry recalls staying at Plainview for one month.  He completed his training at Finney Field in early October, 1942.  From there, the Army Air Force sent the students to Ft. Sumner, NM which was an advanced glider training field.  Berry recalls having his car with him and he drove from Plainview to Ft. Sumner.

They were very nice people in Plainview.  We really enjoyed our time in Plainview and staying at the Hilton Hotel.

Berry ended up in the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group and served in Europe.  Berry now resides in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

For more information about the glider pilots please visit the National WWII Glider Pilots Association website at and the Winged Commandos’ website at

If you have information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field, please contact John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email and visit his website at: