Lift - Spring 2013 - (Page 6)
w i ng s
of l e g ac y
Chance meeting revives memories of
No. 5 British Flying Training School
By Sara W i t hro W
avid Smith (’45, BFTS) of Litchfield, Conn.,
and Ronald McDonald of Tampa, Fla., are
miles and years apart, literally. David, 87, is
a retired horticulturalist. Ronald is 30 years
his junior and makes a living as an aircraft
mechanic. Before 2012, the two men had
never met. But when they came face to
face on Oct. 13 at Embry-Riddle’s Alumni
Weekend in Daytona Beach, they discovered a common heritage that dates back
to the 1940s and Embry-Riddle’s No. 5 British Flying
Training School (BFTS).
In 1941, Embry-Riddle started training military pilots
at Carlstrom Field, in Arcadia, Fla., for the U.S. Army
Air Corps and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force
(RAF). In 1942, the training of RAF cadets moved from
Carlstrom Field to the newly constructed Riddle Field
in Clewiston, Fla., known as No. 5 BFTS. An official
training site for RAF pilots during World War II, the
school was operated by Riddle-McKay Aero College,
one of Embry-Riddle’s six divisions at the time.
S P r iN G 20 1 3
ER AU AL Um nI.o Rg
It’s at No. 5 BFTS where David and Ronald’s stories
parallel. While Ronald was not yet born, his late father,
Raymond Bankston “Mac” McDonald, came to Riddle
Field in the spring of 1943 to train pilots for the war.
On June 17 1943, Mac was officially inducted into
the U.S. Army’s Air Corps Enlisted Reserve to be an
instructor and squadron commander at No. 5 BFTS.
“My Dad’s diary talked about his move to Florida,
Ronald says. “He recalled vividly the scent of Florida
orange blossoms. He said you could smell them from
the air. Prior to his move, Mac was instructing Army
Air Corps pilots at Cannon Airport in Charlotte, N.C.,
under the U.S. Civilian Pilot Training program.
David earned his RAF Wings and an officer’s commission at Embry-Riddle’s No. 5 BFTS. He began pilot
training in late August 1944, but does not recall having
Mac as an instructor. “We had a swimming pool, canteen, flying control tower and barracks for 200 to 300
people, he says of the facilities.
One of David’s fondest memories was a weeklong break over the Christmas holiday, which followed
his completion of primary flight school. “Two of us
hitchhiked from Clewiston to Tampa, Fla., and stayed
in one of the nicer hotels there, he says. Their trip
included stops in St. Petersburg, Orlando, Daytona
Beach and Miami.
“We were in North Miami on New Year’s Eve. The
people in the street below our hotel room were tipping over cars celebrating. In the morning, the news
boys were talking about the Funnies in the paper. And
at the same time, The Battle of the Bulge was at its
worst. I’ll never forget that, he says.
bottom Photo by tony giese PhotograPhy
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Lift - Spring 2013
Lift - Spring 2013
A Soulful Presence
Alumni Weekend/ OctoberWest
Riding on Real Estate
Helping Eagles Fly
Lift - Spring 2013