So Far From Home

Royal Air Force and Free French Air Force Flight Training at Maxwell and Gunter Fields during World War II

Title Details

Pages: 152

Illustrations: maps, aerial photos, photos, and emblems

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/01/2016

ISBN: 9-781-6030-6369-2

List Price: $23.95


NewSouth Books

So Far From Home

Royal Air Force and Free French Air Force Flight Training at Maxwell and Gunter Fields during World War II

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Winner of the United States Air Force's Robert F. Futrell Award for Excellence in Historical Publications

During World War II, the US Army Air Forces (AAF) trained over 21,000 aircrew members from 29 Allied countries. The two largest programs, 79 percent of those trained, were for Britain and France. The Royal Air Force (RAF), fully engaged against the German Air Force by December 1940, was not able to train new aircrews. The British government asked the United States to train new pilots until it could get its own flight training program underway. Lieutenant General Henry "Hap" Arnold, chief of the Army Air Corps, authorized the training of RAF pilots at select airfields in the southeast United States, including at Maxwell and Gunter fields near Montgomery, Alabama. Between June 1941 and February 1943, when the RAF terminated what became known as the Arnold Plan, 4,300 of more than 7,800 RAF cadets sent to the United States completed the three-phase AAF flight training program. Within three months, some of the same schools, including the phase 2 school at Gunter Field, began training Free French Air Force flight cadets. By November 1945, when the US government terminated the French training program, 2,100 French flight cadets out of the 4,100 who came to the United States had received their wings. This book tells for the first time the story of the RAF and Free French flight training programs in central Alabama, covering the origins, the issues, and the problems that occurred during the training programs, and the results and lessons learned.

So Far From Home is a treasure trove of technical and statistical information on flight training programs run during WWII. Strongly recommended.

—American Aviation Historical Society Flightline

The training of Allied cadets from Britain and France during World War II remains one of the signature achievements of Maxwell Air Force Base. In So Far From Home, Robert Kane provides an excellent account of this remarkable story.

—Alabama Review

In its study of British and French experiences in the Maxwell Air Force Base area, So Far from Home sheds some important light on the topic of foreign pilot training in World War II.

—Air and Space Power Journal


Robert F. Futrell Award for Excellence in Historical Publication, United States Air Force

About the Author/Editor

DR. ROBERT B. KANE holds bachelor, master’s, and doctorate degrees in European history. He spent 27 years in the Air Force between 1976 and 2003, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. An Air Force historian since July 2005, he presently serves as the Chief Historian, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL. He has also served as adjunct faculty for various colleges and universities and presently teaches part time for Troy University, Alabama and the American Military University, West Virginia. He has received numerous Air Force awards and recognition as an Outstanding Young American (1985) and in Who’s Who in America. He has published Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918-45, book reviews, and short articles for various encyclopedias. Dr. Kane presently resides in Montgomery, Alabama and is married to the former Anita Louise van Deursen and has two children.