TOM MOORE TRAINED GLIDER PILOTS AND POWERED PILOTS IN WWII By John McCullough

Tom Moore was an instructor pilot during WWII at three locations: Finney Field north of Plainview; Breedlove Airport in Lubbock; and Avenger Field in Sweetwater. He worked for Clent Breedlove while instructing at Finney Field and at Breedlove Airport. Originally, Moore commuted by automobile between Lubbock and Plainview daily in order to instruct student glider pilots at Finney Field. Later in the summer of 1942, Moore moved to Plainview temporarily.

The training involved taking student pilots up to altitude, usually about 5,000 feet, and then shutting off the engine and gliding the plane back to the ground for a landing. The aircraft used in the training varied but usually were Piper Cubs, also known as L-4’s in the US Army Air Forces.

Initially, Moore trained glider pilots during the daytime, but eventually he switched to nighttime training at Finney Field. During the nighttime training, Moore said that they used smudge pots to light up the runways and the airfield boundaries. When Moore and his fellow instructor pilots finished a night’s training with students, they would head back to their boarding house where they were staying to enjoy a breakfast of hot biscuits, honey, and a large platter of eggs. After that, they would play golf in the mornings while the other instructor pilots were busy training students how to fly “dead stick”.

After completing primary training at Finney Field, student pilots were then sent to one of several basic glider schools such as Lamesa Army Air Field or Fort Sumner Army Air Field. After their training was completed at a basic glider school, the student pilots were sent to an advanced glider school, such as Victorville, Calif., Stuttgart, Ark., or South Plains Army Air Field (SPAAF) in Lubbock, Tex.

In September of 1942, Moore decided to move back to Lubbock so that he could be closer to his sweetheart, Mary Jeanne Miller. He later married her on May 20, 1944. Moore still worked for Clent Breedlove when he returned to Lubbock; only by then, he was instructing pilots in the Civilian Pilot Training program (CPT) at Breedlove Airport on E 50th Street. Moore said that he was paid $250 per month to be an instructor pilot during this time and that that was very good pay for those days.

Later in 1943, Tom and Mary Jeanne Moore moved to Sweetwater, Tex., where he trained female pilots in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program at Avenger Field. Moore’s pilot’s log book shows that during this time at Avenger Field, he flew the Vultee BT-13A which had a Pratt and Whitney 450 horsepower engine. The BT- 13A was a basic trainer and thus the USAAF’s designation of “BT” in the name.

Most of his log books entries while at Avenger Field show Moore flying the Vultee BT-13A but his log book also shows him flying the North American AT-6C for instruction purposes. The AT meant “Advanced Trainer”. Moore’s last entry in his pilots log book at Avenger Field is dated October 6, 1944. On that day he flew a Vultee BT-13A. As with his other entries at Avenger Field, the flight was listed as “From: Sweetwater – To: Local.”

His next entry is dated January 2, 1945 for instrument training in a Link Trainer for 13 hours and 20 minutes at the United Air Lines Flight Training Center in Denver, Colo. He performed this training through January 20. From February 13, through March 6, 1945, he flew a Stinson Reliant aircraft for many local flights in Denver. This plane had a Wright engine rated at 350 horsepower.

Moore’s airlines log book shows that he first flew for United Airlines cross country on April 11, 1945. For this flight, he piloted a Douglas DC-3 which had two Pratt & Whitney engines rated at 1,250 horsepower. During his time with United Airlines, Moore also flew the Douglas C-54 which had two Pratt & Whitney engines both rated at 1,350 horsepower. His last entry as a commercial pilot for United Airlines is dated December 30, 1948. For that final flight,