What Jim Cummins wanted was to be “over there,” not training pilots in Texas. “There,” of course, was Europe, or some other place where Jim could take a front-line spot in the war effort –where he could shoot down Nazi Germany’s fighters or strafe trains or drop bombs on enemy factories. But Texas was where he was, training P-51 Mustang pilots who would be performing those needed acts.
What’s often overlooked in the things we learn about WWII and its use of air power—in Europe and the Pacific—is the staggering cost of that training here in the States. According to the AAF Statistical Digest, “in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes—inside the continental United States. They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.” In comparison, there was approximately 23,000 aircraft lost in combat during the war.
The experience levels of pilots entering combat was low, despite the training back in the States. Imagine flying a P-51 into combat with 1 hour in type! How many P-51 owners today would entrust their airplane to a 22-year old with 200 total hours?
We owe the members of the WWII armed forces—who served both here and abroad—a debt of gratitude for their service to our country. Thank them often.
The aviation industry knows the value of proper training—whether it is for the Private ticket or for an IFR rating or other advanced rating. ELITE Simulation Solutions is proud to be playing an important role in increasing pilot proficiency and making the skies safer.
Thanks, Jim, for your service to our country.