Allen trained at Finney Field, then flew gliders in Wickenburg, Arizona.


David A. Allen Jr. was born in December 1920 in Poynor, Texas, located in Henderson County southwest of Tyler. He is 95 years old today. On October 17, 2015, he gave an interview about his WWII glider pilot training, including at Finney Field.

Allen recalled that he and his fellow glider pilots stayed at a hotel in town, so it was definitely the Hilton hotel where they were staying.

Allen thought “Plainview was a nice place” and said “people were very cordial too”.

Asked about Finney Field, he replied that he didn’t remember much of the airfield except the Piper Cubs they had stolen there.

He didn’t remember any mishap or crackle from the glider pilots.

“No no. It was unheard of. Damn, they didn’t dare!

“In pre-glider training – they called it pre-glider – we would take off in the Cubs and go up to 500 feet. Turn off the switch. Pull the nose of the plane up and the propeller will stop spinning, enter, and land your “dead stick”.

Allen only remembered training during the day and said his training probably ended around 5 in the afternoon.

He could not remember any of the names of his fellow student pilots.

Allen recalled some buildings around Finney Field, but was unsure whether they were hangars or not.

He also took ground lessons at Plainview, but couldn’t remember a thing.

After the training at Finney Field was completed each day, Allen said the glider pilots were returned to Plainview in trucks. They would then have supper at the hotel.

Allen said his training at Plainview began around July 1, 1942 and ended around August 1.

Asked about the July incident on a Saturday night when Pvt. Terrence B. McKernan was hit by a train in downtown Plainview, Allen said he did not remember.

He became a Master Sergeant in July 1942 while stationed at the Plainview Pre-Glider School.

With this promotion, Allen’s salary doubled and he said this about the sharp increase in his monthly salary: “Oh absolutely! I went from $ 36 to $ 72! Plainview was a nice place. The people were nice.

Recalling globally his time in Plainview, Allen said fondly, “There were a number of girls in Plainview which we weren’t used to in the wilderness (back to Hemet Field in California). Plainview was a ‘fancy place. “

Allen said when he graduated from Plainview he was not given any Air Force certificates or wings.

After Allen completed his training at Plainview, he was sent to Wickenburg, Arizona.

In the post-war years, Allen thought he might have walked through Plainview once. “It looked like my wife and I had been there once, I’m not sure though.”

Wickenburg was a basic training school or the second phase of glider pilot training. Once basic glider training was completed, glider pilots were sent to an advanced glider training school. Plainview’s pre-glider training was primary, or “dead stick” training.

Speaking of Wickenburg, Allen said, “They were gliders, that’s what we flew: two-seater gliders.”

He went on to describe the planes that were used to tow two-seater gliders in the air.

“I think it was Stearmen planes they had. . . and they towed us on a path and untied us and we were alone. “

When asked whether or not they had instructors on their planes at Wickenburg, Allen replied, “The first flights you had. After that, you were alone.

Allen said he was in Wickenburg for about a month to train. He didn’t remember any accidents there, only many dust storms.

“We had half a day of school on the ground, a half-day flight. “

Allen said it was an airport where they did their training in Wickenburg, but said he believed the base was an army attachment located at the airport.

When asked if his instructors at Plainview and Wickenburg were civilians, Allen replied, “Yes. “

As for the instructors from Plainview, he said, “I think they were in civilian clothes.

He also did not receive a certificate or wings after completing his basic glider degree at Wickenburg.

After Wickenburg, Allen was sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was a place of detention for glider pilots until the start of their next phase of training. He arrived in Albuquerque in September and left in October 1942.

His next stop was the Dalhart Army Air Field where he completed advanced glider training.

Allen said he arrived in Dalhart in October and traveled there by train from Albuquerque.

When asked what he thought of Dalhart when he got there, Allen replied curtly, “Just a small town in West Texas. That’s all.”

When asked if Dalhart was as nice a town as Plainview, he replied, “Oh, no. It wasn’t as good as Plainview. No no. Just so small and there was no activity.

“There was a good place to eat. I guess it was good; but it felt totally different to me, i grew up in east texas and then i lived in a place like this, well it was totally different: drier and colder.

David Allen currently resides in San Antonio. More information about his glider pilot training experiences during WWII will be discussed in the next article.

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