The pilot flight training was in four phases or stages.
Lasting 4 to 6 weeks, this phase consisted of explaining to the new young British cadets necessary knowledge for survival in this strange foreign country. Acclimatization included training in local customs (including the explanation of racial segregation which was the norm at that time), local foods, proper behavior for off post time, coping techniques for the summer heat, etc. As one of the acclimatization centers was at Turner Field, it was the first base to which many British cadets were assigned upon arrival in the United States. United States cadets received Pre Flight training at this stage in other locations as it was assumed they did not need acclimatization.
2) Primary Flight Training
After acclimatization or Pre Flight, cadets were assigned to a primary training base. The one in Albany, Georgia was Darr Aero Tech, a base on another side of the town from Turner Field. Other primary flight training bases included Souther Field in Americus, Georgia and one in Lakeland, Florida
In this first phase of hands-on flying, the cadets trained in the PT-17 Stearman Bi-wing aircraft.
The primary phase of flight training lasted eight weeks. It included rigid flight instruction, school courses and extensive aerobatic maneuvers. Those cadets who did not succeed were sent to other phases of flight training such as aerial gunnery.
3) Basic Training
Those passing Primary Flight Training were promoted to Basic Training at such fields as Cochran Field in Macon, Georgia and Gunter Field at Montgomery, Alabama. This eight week course involved flying in more powerful and sophisticated airplanes.
4) Advanced Training
Those passing Basic were assigned to an air base for Advanced Training, an extensive eight week course. Some of these Advance Training bases were Moody Field in Valdosta, Georgia; Craig Field in Selma, Alabama; Napier Field in Dothan, Alabama; and Turner Field in Albany, Georgia. Those passing Advanced Training were awarded the silver pilot's wings of the US Army Air Corps. If the cadet was British, he was also entitled to wear the wings of the Royal Air Force in addition to his US Army Wings.
Many of the British who trained in the Southeastern United States were called "Arnoldians" for General "Hap" Arnold, Chief of the United States Army Air Force. Because neutrality sentiments in the United States were wide spread prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, it was General Arnold who devised the successful plan or scheme of allowing the British to begin using the United States' pilot training facilities even before the United States was actively involved in combat operations in World War II. Special arrangements had to be made for this training of British cadets to take place in the United States at that time. These arrangements were called the "Arnold Scheme." Of the 8,000 British cadets trained in the Southeastern United States under the Arnold Scheme, over 5,000 came through Turner Field and/or Darr Aero Tech in Albany, Georgia during 1941-1943. Toward the end of 1943, Britain's desperate need for pilots (which was largely occasioned by the terrible losses of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain) was not so critical and the Albany air bases reverted to the training of American cadets.
In 1944, the French Free Cadets joined the British and American Cadets training at Turner Field.
Written by Bob Drake