BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

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The previously-posted article was from late August 1941.

There was indeed a ferry pilot ‘school’ in Albuquerque. This 1941 article (below and attached, I hope), which is from a newspaper in Gallup, New Mexico, reports the first ‘graduation’ from that school.   It is interesting that at least one of the pilots was already looking ahead to the post-war development of air travel.

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Now look what you've done! there is another thing to put on my list of things to find out more about. 

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The first cohort at the school experienced the occasional incident during training.

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Eagles Nest was located at what is now Kirtland Air Force base and Albuquerque Airport and the Ferry Pilots School is mentioned in the Wikipedia page for it. I'd not come across such a school before and wonder if it was the only one. After training in New Mexico the North Atlantic in winter must have come as a shock!

What isn't clear to me is who funded WAE and TAT (or TWA as it became)? Was it the pilots self funding the training as they had potential for future high earnings and the school was set up to meet a demand, or was there some government (US or UK) initiative behind it which provided the aircraft for the training? Presuming it was set up later 1940 early 1941 then the US Neutrality Acts were still in place but this school was training US pilots to break that Act and only after March 1941 would such actions have been legitimate. More investigation to do.

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I scan this subject occasionally and tonight it paid off handsomely. Ian Woodward's post with the news clipping titled "Bomber Damaged" is the first 1941 account I've read of "our" old bomber's accident. I'm quite certain the airplane in the article is Liberator I AM927, now with the CAF. AM927 was damaged at Eagle's Nest in a landing accident and the nose was damaged in the mishap. Consolidated took her back and the rest is history. The reason I call the airplane "ours" is that my wife and I worked on AM927 in 2007/08 during the refurbishment led by Gary Austin. 

Everyone keep up the excellent research, and hopefully someone, one day, will be able to unearth a photo of AM927 in her original state.

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Thank you, 2nd Air Force, for identifying the aircraft concerned.  I am pleased that the newspaper 'cutting' was of interest to you and your wife.  While this is not my area of expertise at all, I do have a note that says AM927  'bellylanded' at Eagles Nest on 24 July 1941.  It also says that the aircraft was repaired at Kansas City which was, as I recall, a main TWA base at that time.

I will check if there are any other contemporary reports of this accident and, if so, will post them here.

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My understanding, Freecell49, is that TWA 's crew training was funded by the U.S. War Department. I seem to recall reading a figure somewhere but finding it again would be quite difficult. I also seem to recall that there were other schools, though whether they were TWA operations or not, I do not know. My memory may be at fault, however.

If AM927 was repaired by TWA after the aforementioned crash, then it would suggest that TWA had full responsibility for the aircraft it used for training, even if it did not actually own the aircraft concerned.

How this all quite fitted with the Neutrality Act, I do not know.

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Also, I thought that, in 1941, the airline had been TWA for some years prior, with the letters standing for Transcontinental & Western rather than Trans World.

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Sorry, my misreading of a record on the TWA name and dates of change and it is as you say Transcontinental and Western as mentioned in your clipping. 

The Neutrality Acts are of interest as to the timing of the article and the establishment of the school. Up until November 1939 there was a ban on arms sales to belligerent nations from the USA and after the passing of the third act only then were arms sales allowed but on a "cash and carry" basis. This required payment up front and the purchasing nation was fully responsible for transport from US ports and US shipping was banned from involvement. Lease Lend was introduced by Act in March 1941 and, as I understand it, only after then were US pilots permitted to fly aircraft bought by the RAF direct to Montreal from the manufacturing plants. Some references to the schools suggest they were set up to train RAF pilots but others refer to training of US pilots for ferry crews, though both are possible at the same time I guess. Many gaps in my research so appreciate my data is incomplete.

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Freecell49, there was a report out of New York published on 25 June 1941.

In this article, it says that TWA announced the opening of the Ferry crew training facility on 24 June 1941 and that the company was to interview prospective trainees on 25 and 26 June 1941 at the Lexington Hotel - not sure of its location but presumably New York.  Applicants had to have a minimum of 600 flying hours  (later increased to 750 hours, I believe) and prospective co-pilots a minimum of 400 hours.

 The article quotes TWA's president, Jack Frye, in places. It states that "The government is to furnish an undisclosed number of planes" and goes on to list some of the types. It adds, "Six planes have already been received"

The article also states that, "Civilian applicants will be trained for the Atlantic Ferry organization" and "Younger Army officers will be trained as well to ferry bombers across the United States".

 

I hope that this may help.

 

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Ian, 

Back when we were researching the history of AM927 we were able to confirm the accident date and location and that the airplane was repaired sufficiently to be bailed back to Consolidated. I did not know that TWA repaired the airplane in Kansas City--that is a good bit of info. 

We are no longer associated with the airplane or the organization that owns it, but I still get excited to learn anything I can about AM927.

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Freecell49 , further to my previous postings:-

1) On 14 June 1941, a Vancouver newspaper reported the appointment of Bowhill "to command a new organization to take delivery of warplanes from 'a recently  formed flight ferry command of the United States Army Air Corps' and fly them to British bases".

2) The TWA staff magazine said, "TWA in June was selected to conduct an extensive program to train Junior Army Air Corps pilots in special multi-engined operations for the Air Corps Ferry Command and to qualify commercial pilots for the British Trans-Atlantic ferry service".

3) On 18 June 1941 newspaper in Clovis, New Mexico, based on statement datelined 'KANSAS CITY, June 18' (so presumably issued by TWA) , said that the "organization ...... was created today" and that "Interviews of applicants are planned at Los Angeles and Dallas".

4) A newspaper in Albuquerque carried the headline "TWA Men Arrive For 'Ferry School'" in its 19 June 1941 issue

5) The TWA staff magazine said that the Eagle Nest Flight Center commenced operations on 23 June 1941, rather than 24 June 1941 as reported by that New York newspaper.

These reports provide a timeline, in outline at least, for the establishment of the 'Eagle Nest Flight Center'., which was described as a "Division of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc." on the sign above the door to its Administration offices - which I hope will be clear enough to read, below.

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Thank you Ian that is most helpful. Those dates fit better with the change in position of the USA with regard to the support to the transfer of aeroplanes to the RAF when the organisation ATFERO, which was civilian led by CPR, was changed to a service organisation under the RAF and Frederick Bowhill. Interestingly Bowhill as CiC of Coastal Command, prior to this appointment, had been one of the voices saying it was too risky to fly aircraft from Canada to the UK in winter and that the RAF should not be involved. This led to Beaverbrook establishing ATFERO  via his Canadian contacts as a Ministry of Aircraft Supply organisation outside of the Air Ministry in mid 1940. 

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You're welcome, Freecell49.  Another, slightly later report, said that the North-South runway   was completed (Probably in August 1941) and that, at 10.000 feet, was then the longest runway in the USA. It isn't clear to me from the report whether this was an entirely new runway or the extension and improvement of an existing runway.

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As promised, 2nd Air Force, here is another contemporary report on the crash of AM927.

 

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It provides more details of the circumstances, as well as the names of the crew.

IF AM927 was repaired at TWA's Kansas City base, then I assume that there was some kind of temporary fix carried out in Albuquerque for it to fly between the two. Do you know if this is correct?

It is likely that the newspaper report was based on a press statement of some kind.  The brief article on the crash that I posted earlier came from the AP (Associated Press) news agency, as did a similarly brief report in another newspaper.  All three were published on 25 July 1941.  You may well find that other newspapers picked up the AP story, too, and, if you or others wish to pursue the matter, then that may be a route worth exploring.

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I have other (non-aviation) interests and it is likely that one of these will be taking precedence over the next week or so. I shall, nevertheless, keep an eye on this thread and may pop in from time to time.

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Ian,

The names correspond exactly with the history that the CAF has in their historical accounts of AM927.

We had always thought that Consolidated came out to Eagle Nest and inspected the airplane, then decided to temporarily repair it for a ferry flight back to San Diego for permanent repairs. However, the new info you've unearthed makes good sense also--that TWA was responsible for repairing the airplane since they had damaged it. Perhaps a decision was made at Kansas City that Consolidated should have this particular airframe bailed back to them and that's when it became a company airplane.

Cheers, 

Scott

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Scott,

Even if TWA had responsibility for repairing AM927, I doubt its engineers would have had prior experience with a Liberator. Perhaps TWA called in Consolidated for assistance..

Given the immediate and pressing demands of the ferry crew training programme, maybe Consolidated provided TWA with a replacement Liberator and took AM927 back in exchange.

Just speculation on my part.

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We were always led to believe that the Army Air Forces bailed '927 back to Consolidated due to it being heavily damaged in the accident. Some confusion existed(still exists) among our group as to who owned the airplane in the first place. My opinion was that it was officially an RAF aircraft loaned to TWA for the training role, others thought the U.S. Army was the true owner. Regardless, the airplane was saved!

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This is a slight change of tack but still on the subject of transatlantic air services in WWII.

The thread started with an official photograph of Liberator AL528 about to land at Prestwick after crossing the Atlantic. It was one of several photographs given me more than half-a-century ago and only found again a few years back.

The photograph below shows Boeing 314A G-AGBZ “Bristol” and it is different from the AL528 photo in several respects. The original is much, much smaller, bears no rear stamps or identifying markings and showed a number of printing blemishes, which I have removed.  I have also cropped out some sea and sky but I have not changed the image in any material way. The photo was taken from a distance and, seemingly, just as ‘GBZ began to leave its moorings, so that it is not as sharp as I would have wished.  Nevertheless, someone may be able some questions

[1] Has this photo been published previously and, if so, where and when?                                                                                                                            {2] What did the caption say?                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [3] And, in particular, did it state or indicate the place where it was taken or the date?

NOTE: The photographed is attached as well as embedded and may be a little clearer as an attachment

                                                                                                                                                                                                            ....

I have assumed the photo was taken at Bermuda, based on the white uniforms and what I can make out of the flag at the nose of the aircraft. However, while Bermuda was a standard stopover on the southern route across the Atlantic, the aircraft sometimes called in elsewhere in the region.

I would welcome any guidance on this.

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