PRINCETON FLYING SCHOOL
PAUL CULVER, 1917
|Paul Culver at Princeton University, 1917
From Edith Dodd Culver's The Day the Airmail Began
PRINCETON FLYING SCHOOL, 1917
When it seemed inevitable that the United States would be drawn into the war, several colleges and universities began to expand their R.O.T.C. programs and to add other military training classes to their curriculum, and Princeton was one of the first to initiate an aviation training program. Many patriotic alumni, inspired by the leadership of Major James Barnes of the class of 1891, and including Mr. Percy Pyne of the class of 1879, and Mr. Marshall Mills of the class of 1902, and many others, contributed and collected funds for the establishment of an aviation training school as part of Princeton's preparedness program in the spring of 1971. They selected a site about three miles out of town on the Lawrenceville Road, had a strip cleared on an adjacent small farm to use as a landing field, erected a small lunch-room and club house, installed four training planes, and hired several aviation mechanics and flying instructors. This comprised the Princeton Flying School. Civilian pilot Frank Stanton, and Lieutenant E. R. Kenneson were already on duty when Paul Culver arrived with his War Department orders. Thirty-eight students had already applied for flying lessons and applications for instruction were pouring in.
Princeton's patriotic gesture in establishing a flying school before President Wilson declared war with Germany on April 6, 1917 made it a natural selection for one of the government's first ground schools. This consisted of an eight weeks course of training in the mechanics of aviation and learning the tactics of military flying.
The Princeton interlude was a happy and interesting experience. Paul enjoyed his association with his students, among whom were Harvey Firestone, Jr., Paul Robinson, Elliot White Springs, and the two Morgan boys from California whose petite and beautiful mother had been one of Paul's first women passengers. In spite of the gay camaraderie, we all knew that American participation in the European conflict was inevitable as the war on the western front was accelerating, and the news from there was increasingly grim. All the young men took their training seriously and the flying field became the most popular part of the University.
from her book, The Day the Airmail Began