Eric was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire, in 1922. His father, Major Stanley Denham, was an army officer with the York and Lancaster Regiment. In 1918 he went missing as he tried to join up in Halifax but was too young and had to return home. As soon as he was 18 he enrolled and Eric describes himself as an “army brat” as the family spent years moving around with him in Portsmouth, Northern Ireland and latterly spending four years in India. The family returned to the UK in 1938. Eric had a younger brother and sister (both deceased) and his sister enrolled as a Voluntary Aid Nurse in the Second World War.
After an army childhood, Eric decided his interest in aircraft and flying led him to join the RAF in 1941. He trained, but didn’t solo, on the Tiger Moth at Brough in East Yorkshire and was then given the opportunity to join 5BFTS in Florida where he joined Course 13. His roommates were John Jordan and (Doug) W Saye. Training first on the Stearman he eventually flew Harvards and graduated from Clewiston on July 29th 1943.
On returning to the UK Eric was sent to Harrogate 7 Personnel Recruitment Centre. Later he was posted to Banff and Inverness and he spent the rest of the war attending training courses and eventually instructing servicemen. During his career he served with the following squadrons, 101, 9, 27, 511 and 241 OCU. He did not see active service in WW2.
Following the war, Eric decided to remain in the RAF and flew Canberras and Vulcan Bombers with 101 Squadron. As reported in the Times on Friday 10th June 1960, he famously piloted the Vulcan that was photographed passing over the crater of Mt Kilimanjaro, Kenya during a Lone Ranger exercise. He relates the many moral dilemmas faced by the Vulcan and Canberra pilots during the Cold War. Eric retired from the RAF in 1973. He worked for British Telecom as a senior purchasing officer until 1985.
Military | Chief Ground School Instructor
Mr Cliff E Bjornsen was the Chief Ground School Instructor at 5 British Flying Training School in Florida based at Riddle Field. He was a well respected instructor and in April 1943 the Embry-Riddle Flypaper reported, " According to the latest report...
Military | Pilot
David Richard Croft Blackhall was from Diseworth, Derbyshire, UK and arrived at No 5 British Flying Training School at Clewiston with the RAF students in 1942 to join Course 13. He shared a room with William Cushner at Riddle Field, Clewiston, while...
Military | Link Trainer Instructor
Charles Jackson Hopkins was born in Chrisney, Indiana, on 21st September 1921. He later moved to Huntingburg, Indiana and graduated from Grade School to High School. On leaving school he was employed as a bookkeeper and then manager of a loan company....
Military | Colonel | Pilot
Born in Ohio, USA, Samuel Huston signed the 5 BFTS Anniversary book for No 5 British Flying Training School at Riddle Field, Clewiston in 1943. In a letter to William Cushner in 1992 he records the following memories:
Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot / Instructor
John Jordan attended 5 BFTS (Course 13) from January-July 1943.
Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot
George W Morse from Massachusetts was one of the USAAF cadets who joined the RAF trainees at Riddle Field, Clewiston No 5 British Flying Training School. As he had worked for the Associated Press he was recruited as Assistant Editor for Course 13's...
Military | Wing Commander | Pilot
Captain Thomas E Persinger was First Lieutenant, Operations and Engineering officer August 1941- August 1942 . He went on to Lakeland Florida and then moved to No 5 British Flying Training School at Clewiston from the beginning of the school in...
Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot
Originally from London, England, G.A Renvoize joined the No 5 British Flying Training School Course 13 and used his artistic skills by publishing line-drawings and caricatures in the Fly Paper weekly publication. He was also recognized by J P Riddle as...
Military | Captain | Pilot /Instructor
Bob Richardson was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined the RAF at the beginning of the Second World War and was sent to Clewiston, Florida to train at No 5 British Flying Training School. He was on “Course 3”, the University Flight as all fifty cadets...
Formerly a barnstormer and flying instructor for stunt pilots, John Paul Riddle was a pioneer in aviation history taking the controls only 17 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight. His career in aviation had taken him from the Embry-Riddle...
Units served with
The 'Arnold Scheme' (1941-43) and the British Flying Training Schools (1941-45), with the co-operation of Squadron Leader Mills DFC and President Roosevelt, enabled the setting up of flight training in the USA for RAF pilots to train alongside American...