They Flew Proud crisply tells the story of the Civilian Pilot Training Program through the Army Air Force Cadets at Grove City College (PA.) and the Grove City Airport where the flight instructors (including Gardner Birch) trained the cadets to solo. Across the U.S., more than 435,000 men and women were taught to fly under the CPTP in pre and post WWII. In Grove City, the 8th Detachment’s 486 students received almost 5,000 hours of instruction, and then went forward to serve their nation in WWII.
In Part 2, Gardner Birch, manager/instructor refocused the airport to teach civilians to fly after the CPTP was abruptly cancelled. He created five boards to record the 127 students and their solo dates ( 44- 48). Narratives from these men and women retell of learning basic flying skills through many wonderful and humorous aviation stories. Those lessons learned in aviation’s early days prepared them for a smoother flight through life and created friendships and passions for flying and airplanes. Numerous photos and visuals add depth, feeling, and understanding to the expressive text and draw us into the special time when some of the greatest generation learned to fly proud.