The Spartan School of Aeronautics

Miami Businesses

It was the summer of 1941. World War II was raging in Europe. While not involved in the conflict directly, the US was doing what it could to help. This included training British pilots.

Spartan School is announced, headline

Details of Miami’s branch of the Spartan School of Aeronautics. Click to enlarge.

Sign in front of Spartan School of Aeronautics, 1940’s. Photo by Ken Ellwood

Spartan School of Aeronautics, aerial view, 1941

Very rapidly, the acreage provided free of charge by George L. Coleman would be transformed into barracks and hangers. In a matter of months, Miami had this proud facility in place.

Spartan School opens for RAF pilots, October 26, 1941. Click to enlarge.

By October 26, the RAF pilots had arrived and begun training. But pilot training was a dangerous business, and in all 13 British students lost their lives, and are buried in Miami’s cemetery.

On December 7, of course, the US entered the war. The Spartan School was ramped up to include training for American pilots.

Spartan School ad, 1943. Click to enlarge.

Women wanted to work as mechanics’ helpers, Spartan School, 1943

There was a shortage of able-bodied men during the war, so Spartan sought out their own version of Rosie the Riveter.

Spartan announces civilian school in 1944

The school began training civilian pilots in June, 1944.

Spartan barracks used to house veteran students at NEO, 1946

After the war ended, the school closed up shop. It was still a useful place, though, being used to house veterans taking advantage of their GI bill to get an education at NEO.

Spartan School reopens, July 27, 1947

In 1947, the school reopened, with services offered in servicing and repairing airplanes as well.

Ad for Spartan School, 1948

Spartan students killed in mid-air collision, May 24, 1949

On May 24, a mid-air collision took place involving a Spartan student who was soloing, killing three. This incident evidently cast a pall over the school. While no official closing was announced in the News-Record, this was the last time the school was referred to as a running business. Five years later, in 1954, Crane announced that they would be opening up shop in the empty Spartan facilities, that would permanently close the chapter of the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Miami.

6 thoughts on “The Spartan School of Aeronautics

  1. I am seeking information on my father, Douglas S. Dear, Sr., and instructor pilot of British pilots at Spartan/Miami prior to 1945. Any info will be appreciated.

  2. Hi Douglas,

    I’m from England and my grandfather trained at Spartan Miami from Sep 41 to Jan 42 and I’m lucky enough to have his photo album from his time there which holds a few hundred photos of him and his fellow students as well as the instructors who taught him. I’ll have a search through it later to see if there are any photos of your father as my grandfather has annotated all of the photos with the names of who’s in each.

    If I do I’ll reach out and email you them.


    Laurence Hall

    1. Dear Laurence
      My great-uncle Marcel Fussell also did his training at Spartan Miami from Aug 1941-Jan 1942 (course #3). I dont suppose your album contains any photos of him, or his friend Tom Eccelstone does it? We have so few photos of Marcel it would be amazing if you had any you could share, and I am in touch with a relative of Tom’s who is always keen for more information.
      Many thanks in advance.

  3. Hello,

    I’m looking to conduct an interview with someone who has considerable knowledge about the Spartan Flying School in Miami, the story behind the cadets, and the annual gathering. If you’re interested, please let me know.

  4. I am seeking information about Welshman CLEDWYN JONES of Penygroes, Caernarfon, who served in the ROYAL AIR FORCE from Aug 1941.
    He sailed from Greenock, Scotland, to Halifax, Nova Scotia (via New York) by a USA ship and thereon to 3 British Flying Training School at Miami, Oklahoma (arriving 24 Sept 1942).
    Cledwyn underwent flying training at this establishment until he attained his “wings”.
    Records show him having been sent to Washington on 1 Jan 1943, before returning to Miami on 11 April 1943. Ee are unaware of the reason for this!
    He left Miami on his homeward journey in Apl 1943 via Moncton, before boarding a Livrrpool bound ship from Halifax – returning to Liverpool on 4 June 1943.
    Sadly, he sustained serious head/facial injuries in an aircraft crash in England on 13 Jul 1944.
    Consequently he retired from th RAF in the rank of Pilot Officer in June 1945, attributable to those injuries sustained.
    I would greatly appreciate any information/photos of Cledwyn during his time in 3 BFTS Miami, Oklahoma, in the course of his son and grandsons gleaning as much info as is possible of their grandfather.

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