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Riddle Field

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

Riddle Field, Clewiston, Florida, was built as a training base for the British Flying Training Schools (BFTS) programme and was operational for 5 BFTS from 1941-1945. As a result of the co-operation between the USA and UK governments, the American Lend- Lease programme enabled the setting up of seven BFTS across America. These were built to train RAF pilots for combat in a war-free environment and over 11,000 pilots graduated as a result. 1,325 cadets graduated from Riddle Field, and the supporting unit at Carlstrom Field, from the Riddle-Mackay Aero College.

Each BFTS airfield was built to a general specification. The airfield was to be one mile square with two runways and a control tower. At Clewiston, the major runways were grass in a V pattern avoiding cross-wind landing and take-off for trainee pilots.

Riddle Field was also equipped with two large barracks, built in colonial style, with individual rooms for students. Smaller barracks, a large dining hall, a recreational hall, ground and flight school and an infirmary were on site as well as outdoor recreational facilities. A diamond-shaped ring road surrounded the complex.

John Paul Riddle identified the area for the airfield while flying with Wing Commander Harry Hogan DFC over the Everglades in a Stinson aircraft. Riddle landed the aircraft in long grass predicting that this would be the centre of the runways for 5 BFTS. A second choice for the base, the site was chosen by Riddle and Group Captain D V Carnegie and work started in 1941 on an ambitious building programme frequently beset with difficulties. Rattlesnake dens, high humidity and torrential rain delayed the opening of Riddle Field until the autumn of 1941 and early arrivals for 5 BFTS were initially trained at Riddle’s nearby Carlstrom Field.

John Paul Riddle was frequently on site, dressed in seersucker suits, and, always prepared to be involved in the building work; he inspired the workers with his infectious enthusiasm. He is quoted as saying, “The quicker we get this job done, the faster we can train those British kids to fly.”

Riddle Field, Clewiston, operated as a training base for 5 BFTS until 1945. Currently called Airglades Airport it operates as a civil airport and is owned by Hendry County.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

  • 5 British Flying Training School

    5 British Flying Training School


    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...

People

  • Cliff Bjornsen

    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...

  • Peter Brannan

    Military | Corporal
    Peter Brannan was born near London on June 27, 1925. He joined the Air Training Corps at 15 and the RAF at 18 in 1943, and then spent many frustrating months doing training courses and odd jobs on bomber aerodromes. Eventually he “gained freedom” and...

  • John Broome

    Military | Pilot
    John Broome grew up near London. He enlisted with the RAF and was posted to No. 5 British Flying Training School, Riddle Field Clewiston in 1943, Course 18. After he was awarded his Wings, he returned to Britain and did a short spell of flying...

  • Ronald Cox

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot Officer
    Ronald Morley Cox was born in Bromley, Kent, UK on the 23rd March 1925. His father had fought in France during World War I with the Canadian Highlanders. Wounded on three occasions he was finally discharged in June 1919. He died in 1933. ...

  • Jack Hayward

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot
    Sir Jack Hayward was born in Wolverhampton, UK in 1925 and volunteered for the RAF in 1941. He first trained in Yorkshire. Later he joined 5 BFTS Riddle Field, Clewiston, Florida as a trainee pilot on Course 17. Among many other postings he was...

  • George Hogarth

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot
    George Hogarth was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in September 1921 and grew up in Edinburgh. He left school in the summer of 1939 and went up to the University of Edinburgh in October 1939. Having won a History prize (and a Latin verse prize) at...

  • Raphael Kerry

    Military | Pilot
    Ray James Kerry was born in 1921 in the UK. He studied at Nottingham University and was a founder member of Nottingham University Air Squadron in 1939. In 1942 he joined Course 5 at the newly formed No 5 British Flying Training School at Riddle Field,...

  • Thomas Lees

    Military | Pilot
    Born in the UK in 1923, T J Lees joined the RAF in 1943. He began his pilot’s training in the USA and, travelling on the Cunard White Star, RMS Mauritania arrived in Canada in Autumn 1943. There he was issued with the Canadian Pilot’s Flying Log book...

  • Donald MacIntosh

    Military | Flight Lieutenant | Pilot
    Donald MacIntosh was born in Glasgow in May 1922. He was the son of Donald (a policeman) and Janet McIntosh. He later changed the spelling of his surname. Leaving school at 14, he became a telephone operator for the Clydebank Police and subsequently a...

  • Laurie Moore

    Military | Pilot
    Laurie Moore was one of the British cadets to join Course 17 at No 5 BFTS, Riddle Field, Clewiston, Florida.

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2016 11:30:31 Anne Hughes Changes to history
Sources

www.5bfts.org.uk

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2016 11:29:01 Anne Hughes Changes to history
Sources

www.5bfts.org.uk

Date Contributor Update
05 May 2016 14:54:31 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations
Sources

wwww.5bfts.org.uk

Date Contributor Update
05 May 2016 14:48:25 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations
Sources

www.5bfts

Date Contributor Update
05 May 2016 14:47:40 Anne Hughes Changes to media associations
Sources

www.5bfts.org.uk

Date Contributor Update
05 May 2016 14:31:39 Anne Hughes Changes to history
Sources

www.5bfts.org.uk
RAF Wings over Florida by Will Largent
The RAF in American Skies by Tom Killebrew
www.airnav.com

Date Contributor Update
27 April 2016 14:42:51 Carl Created entry with name, latitude and longitude
Sources

No. 5 BFTS book (See also Embry-Riddle)

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