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From 1941 through 1945, British cadets in the Royal Air Force trained in the United States through the Lend-Lease Act, President Roosevelt’s ingenious plan to help beleaguered Great Britain while maintaining the semblance of neutrality. This book tells the saga of two Florida training fields during this turbulent time. In their own words, British pilots tell of their Florida experiences. Many of them still in their late teens, away from home for the first time, pale and thin from years of rationing, these young men encountered immense challenges and overwhelming generosity during their training in Florida. Now retired, these former pilots still smell the scent of orange blossoms when they glance through the log books they kept while flying their Stearmans and Harvards over Florida citrus groves. They fondly remember the times when they buzzed over the homes of their Florida “families” to let them know to expect them for Sunday dinner. More than fifty years later, their stories still resonate with universal emotions: fear of failure, love of country, camaraderie, romantic love, and the pain of tragic deaths. Their stories also remind the American reader of a unique time in our history, when, poised on the brink of war, the United States reached out to help a country in distress.



Publication Date

Winter 1-15-2011


Purdue University Press


West Lafayette


Royal Air Force, Lend-Lease Act, President Roosevelt, British pilots, training fields, Florida, Stearman, Harvard


European History | History | Military History | United States History


Open access publication of this title is supported by Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies.

RAF Wings over Florida: Memories of World War II British Air Cadets