CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING PROGRAM
Plainview Pre-Glider School taught cadet pilots basic dead-stick flying skills
By John W. McCullough, History Graduate Student, Texas Tech University
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
This is the first article in a series of articles about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School
I first heard about the Plainview Pre-Glider School in the fall of 2006 while performing research on Clent Breedlove and the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) in WWII. Earl Dietering and Harold Humphries, both of Lubbock and both former pilot instructors for Breedlove at Breedlove Airport, told me about a “dead-stick” school that Breedlove ran in Plainview from 1942-43. The air field was known as Finney Field and was located just north of Plainview on the west side of the Amarillo highway at the Finney switch. Breedlove also ran Breedlove Airport just southeast of Lubbock on the old Tahoka Highway, Dagley Field at 34th and Quaker Ave in Lubbock, and Lamesa Liaison Pilot School.
The pilot instructors who lived in Lubbock would drive to Plainview every day to train cadet pilots in the rudimentary skills needed for flying gliders. Other instructor pilots lived in Plainview. One of the instructor pilots was well-known Hollywood movie star Jackie Coogan.
More recently, I interviewed Plainview residents Leighton H. Maggard and B. Elvin “Moss” Foster. Both men were able to provide me with additional information about the pre-glider school and some general history of early aviation in the Plainview area. Maggard provided a photograph of himself and four other pilots at the pre-glider school in 1943. The photograph shows a Piper L-4 single-engine plane in the background which was used for training. Maggard is the man on the left. A friend of his, Jay McPherson, is on the right.
Foster said that a large section of land located northeast of Plainview was the actual place where aircraft would land after cutting the power to their engines, simulating a glider. When you cut the power to your engine and glided in for a landing, that was called “dead-stick” flying.
Pre-glider schools like Finney Field were located in numerous places around the United States during the war. Their function was to teach potential glider pilots the rudimentary skills needed to become advanced glider pilots who would earn their “G-wings” at a much larger field like South Plains Army Air Field (SPAAF) in Lubbock. Silent Wings Museum, the National WWII Glider Pilot’s Museum, is located just north of Lubbock on I-27 at Exit 9, where SPAAF was once located. Their website is: www.silentwingsmuseum.com
Around August, 1943, the Plainview Pre-Glider School was closed. The US Army Air Forces (USAAF) informed Breedlove that they needed him to begin training liaison pilots instead. The decision was made to move the Breedlove instructor pilots from Plainview to Lamesa where more advanced facilities were already in place at Lamesa Army Air Field.
Many more articles about the Plainview Pre-Glider School will be written in the upcoming months as more research is conducted. If you have information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School, please contact me at 806-793-4448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit my website: www.breedlove-cptp.org