Basic Trainers

High Flight is an inspiration for all who thrill at the concept of flight and a mantra for those who do.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941


Have you ever thought of learning to fly?  Well, getting acquainted with a basic trainer may inspire you.  The Foundation offers several for you to view and a T-37 cockpit to “climb on in” and dream the dreams of flight.  For further inspiration we offer you the poem High Flight.


Basic Trainers

BT-13A "Valiant" - Tail Number 41-21933

The Aviation Training Exhibits contains several displays of aviation trainers. From the BT-13 primary basic trainer to a "climb on in" T-37 cockpit, we hope to encourage the thrill of flight in kids of all ages.


The "Valiant" was the basic trainer most widely used by the USAAF during WW II.  It represented the second of the three stages of pilot training--primary, basic and advanced.  Compared with the primary trainers in use at the time, it was considerably more complex.  The BT-13 not only had a more powerful engine, it was also faster and heavier.  In addition, it required the student pilot to use two-way radio communications with the ground, operate landing flaps and a two-position variable pitch propeller.



  • Span: 42 ft. 2 in.

  • Length:  28 ft. 8 ½ in.

  • Height:  12 ft. 4 ¾ in.

  • Weight:  4,227 lbs. loaded

  • Armament:  None

  • Engine:  Pratt & Whitney R-985 of 450 hp.

  • Crew:  Two (instructor & student)

  • Maximum speed:  155 mph.

  • Cruising speed:  130 mph.

  • Range:  880 miles

  • Service Ceiling:  19,400 ft.

BT-13 "Valiant" - Tail Number 121933

Nicknamed the "Vibrator" by the pilots who flew it, the BT-13 was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-985 engine. But to counter the shortage of these engines early in the BT-13 production program, 1,693 Valiants were produced in 1941-2 with a Wright R-975 engine and were designated as BT-15s.  By the end of WW II, 10,375 BT-13s and BT-15s had been accepted by the AAF.

PT-19-AAF Primary Trainer - Tail Number 41-20230

The PT-19, developed by Fairchild in 1938 to satisfy a military requirement for a rugged monoplane primary trainer, was ordered into quantity production in 1940.  In addition to being manufactured by Fairchild during WW II, the "Cornell" was produced in the U.S. by the Aeronca, Howard and St. Louis Aircraft Corporations and in Canada by Fleet Aircraft, Ltd.



  • Span:  35 ft. 11 3/16 in.

  • Length:  27 ft. 8 3/8 in.

  • Height:  7 ft. 9 in.

  • Weight:  2,450 lbs. loaded

  • Armament:  None

  • Engine: Ranger  L-440 of 175 hp.

  • Maximum speed:  124 mph.

  • Cruising speed:  106 mph.

  • Range:  480 miles

  • Service Ceiling:  16,000 ft.

PT-19-AAF Primary Trainer - Tail Number 120230

Some Cornells were powered by Continental radial engines and designated PT-23s, while others were produced with cockpit canopies and designated PT-26s. Altogether, 7,742 Cornells were manufactured for the AAF, with 4,889 of them being PT-19s. Additional Cornells were supplied to Canada, Norway, Brazil, Ecuador and Chile.


T-37 Flight Simulator Exhibit

The T-37 is a twin-engine primary trainer used for teaching the fundamentals of jet aircraft operation and instrument, formation and night flying.  Affectionately known as the "Tweety Bird" or "Tweet," it was the first USAF jet aircraft designed from conception as a trainer (as opposed to a modification such as the T-33).  Its flying characteristics helped student pilots prepare to transition to the larger, faster T-38 "Talon" later in the pilot training program.  Side-by-side seating in the T-37 makes it easier for the instructor to observe and communicate with the student.

The XT-37 prototype made its initial flight on October 12, 1954, and the pre-production T-37A first flew on September 27, 1955.  Following modifications, the T-37A entered operational USAF service in 1957.  In 1959, the T-37B joined the USAF.  Similar to the -A, it had more powerful engines, a redesigned instrument panel and improved radio communications and navigational equipment. In time, all -As were modified to -B standards.


T-37 Specifications:


  • Span: 33 ft.  10 in.

  • Length:  29 ft. 4 in.

  • Height:  9 ft. 5 in.

  • Weight:  6,580 lbs. max.

  • Armament:  None

  • Engines:  Two Continental J69-T-25s
    of 1,025 l
    bs. thrust ea.

  • Crew:  Two

  • Maximum speed:  410 mph

  • Cruising speed:  350 mph.

  • Range:  650 miles

  • Service Ceiling:  35,000 ft.

“Climb on in” the T-37 Flight Simulator Exhibit

The T-37C, with provisions for armament and extra fuel, was built for export.  Both T-37Bs and -Cs serve the air forces of several Allied nations.  In all, nearly 1,300 T-37As, -Bs and -Cs were built before production ended in the late 1970s.  In addition, nearly 600 A-37s--attack modifications of the T-37--were built.

Above: T-37 cockpit available for children of all ages.  A truly great photo opportunity.


F-100 "Super Sabre" Cockpit Trainer and Instructor Station

Developed as a follow-on to the F-86 Sabre used in the Korean War, the F-100 was the world's first production airplane capable of flying faster than the speed of sound in level flight (760 mph).  The prototype, the YF-100A, made its first flight on May 25, 1953 at Edwards AFB, California.  Of the 2,294 F-100's built before production ended in 1959, 1,274 were -D's, more than all the other series combined.  The -D, which made its first flight on Jan. 24, 1956, was the most advanced production version.  Its features included the first autopilot designed for a supersonic jet and a low-altitude bombing system. The Super Sabre had its combat debut in Vietnam where it was used extensively as a fighter-bomber in ground-support missions such as attacking bridges, road junctions, and troop concentrations.

F-100 "Super Sabre" Cockpit Trainer 

F-100 Specifications:


  • Span: 38 ft. 10 in.

  • Length: 54 ft. 2 in.

  • Height: 16 ft. 2 in.

  • Weight: 38,048 lbs. loaded

  • Armament: Four M-39 20 mm. cannons, two GAM-83A Bulldog missiles, four GAR-8 sidewinder missiles, rockets, special stores, and/or a maximum of 7040 lbs. of bombs.

  • Engine: Pratt & Whitney J-57-P-21 (or -P-21A) of 16,000 lbs. thrust with afterburner

  • Maximum speed: 926.6 mph

  • Cruising speed: 590 mph.

  • Range: 1,970 miles

  • Service Ceiling: 55,000 ft.

After 165 hours of work spread over several months, Bob Jenkins, a volunteer at the Travis Air Museum, completed the restoration of our F-100D cockpit trainer.  This trainer was built in the 1950s by the Refectone Company of Stamford Connecticut, a major flight simulator company.  The trainer was poor condition in storage when Bob took on the task of restoration.  The rudder control system had been removed and required repair as well as installation.  Almost all the instrument lenses were broken and had to be replaced.  In addition, both the trainer and control console needed general repair and then had to be repainted.  Bob also built a stairway to provide access to the cockpit.  The F-100D cockpit trainer joined the T-37 and T-28 cockpit trainers at the museum as the most popular hands-on exhibits for children. They love nothing more than to jump in the cockpit, buckle up, and take off.

Restoration of the F-100D Cockpit Trainer

Bob was the right person to carry out this restoration. He spent 23 years in the Air Force in aircraft maintenance, 11 of these years being in Japan and Vietnam.  He has worked on almost all cargo planes in the Air Force inventory, from the C-47 to the C-5A.


After retiring from the Air Force, he spent fifteen years building and installing large manufacturing equipment.  In 2002 he "finally" retired and became a volunteer at the museum.  We greatly appreciate his expertise and dedication.


The Heritage Center “Climb-On-In” Kid’s Zone Exhibit Area

© Travis AFB Heritage Center Foundation


Directors' Documents (password-protected)