The history of aviation training in the United States military began on 8 October 1909, when Wilbur Wright began instructing Lieutenants Frank P. Lahm and Frederic E. Humphreys on Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, which the Army had recently purchased from the Wright brothers. Each of the two men received a little over three hours training before soloing on 26 October 1909. Flying training in the Army remained on a small scale until the outbreak of World War I in April 1917.
During World War I, approximately 23,000 volunteers entered flying cadet training. Eight private and state universities offered preflight (ground school) training. Primary and advanced training were more of a problem because, in April 1917 when the United States entered the war, the Army had fewer than 100 flying officers and only three flying fields-- Hazelhurst Field, Mineola, New York; Chandler Field, Essington, Pennsylvania; and Rockwell Field, San Diego, California. Chandler Field was closed in the summer of 1917 as inadequate, and its personnel and equipment transferred to the new Gerstner Field, Louisiana.
Because it would take a long time to construct adequate training facilities in the United States, Canada provided flying bases at Deseronto and Camp Borden in the Toronto area during the summer of 1917 so that several hundred American cadets could begin primary flying training under the tutelage of the British Royal Flying Corps. The British also operated three flying schools in the United States, located at Camp Taliaferro, Fort Worth, Texas. By Christmas 15 US training bases were available, a number expanded to 27 in the United States and 16 in Europe by the end of the war. Here cadets underwent six to eight weeks of primary pilot training, including 40–50 hours in the air, usually in a Curtiss JN-4 or in a Standard J-1.
Over 11,000 flying cadets received their wings and were commissioned before entering four weeks of advanced training either in the United States or Europe. Bombing instruction
occurred primarily at Ellington Field and Taliaferro Field, Texas, among other locations, provided observation training, while pursuit (fighter) courses were restricted to a series of Air Instructional Centers (AIC)s in France because of a lack of necessary equipment in the United States. Brooks Field, Texas, contained the principal instructor's school.
Because the United States was in World War I only for a year and a half and entered it so unprepared, only about 1,000 of the 11,000 aviators trained during the war were actually involved in operations against the enemy. Most of these operations consisted of artillery observation or air-to-air combat. Rapid demobilization followed the end of World War I, and many of these flying schools were closed and turned over to local authorities as airports, although some remained in service though the 1920s, World War II, and into the modern era.
By November 1918, the Air Service put 18 new airfields into service for advanced flying, experimental testing, and specialized training in bombing, observation and pursuit fighter training. In Canada, Camp Borden near Toronto was also used by the Air Service in conjunction with the Royal Flying Corps. All of these new airfields were named after Americans who lost their lives on aeronautical duty, some of which in the days when aviation was in its infantry. Three civilians who were pioneers in aeronautics were also honored.
** Camp Taliaferro was a flight training center under the direction of the Air Service which had and administration center near what is now the Will Rodgers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Flying airfields consisted of Hicks Field near Saginaw Texas where US flight cadets and Canadian aerial gunnery students trained, Canadian and British cadets trained at Barron Field in Everman and at Carruthers Field in Benbrook. From 1917 to 1918 British Royal Flying Corps instructors trained 6000 flight cadets at the facilities making up Camp Taliafero.