Vernon Castle Memorial
Start of the Pilot Training Sites
In early 1917, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) Canada selected three pilot training sites around Fort Worth, Texas, because the milder Texas climate offered a better training environment. In May 1917, following our entry into the WWI conflict, they reached an agreement with the US Army’s Chief Signal Officer, George Squier, to begin training American squadrons in Canada, and in return, the US Army would construct the three fields for their own use during the winter.
When the first American squadrons began arriving from Canada in October 1917, the three fields were run by the US Army Air Service. Canadian training squadrons arrived in November and brought with them 254 Canadian-built Curtiss JN-4 aircraft.
The three fields became known as the "Flying Triangle" and were originally designated:
- Taliaferro Field #1, north of Saginaw
- Taliaferro Field #2 in Everman (re-named Barron Field)
- Taliaferro Field #3 in Benbrook (re-named Carruthers Field, and later Benbrook Field)
Barron and Carruthers were used by the RFC Canada training squadrons to train new pilots. Taliaferro was used by the American squadrons trained in Canada and the RFC Canada School of Aerial Gunnery. Camp Taliaferro was established at Camp Bowie to coordinate RFC Canada activities on the three fields and handle local procurement of supplies and equipment for the RFC. When the newly re-named Royal Air Force returned to Canada in April 1918, they transferred most of their serviceable aircraft to the US Army Air Service.
Carruthers Field Location
Carruthers Field was located south of Mercedes Street in what is now the Benbrook Lakeside Subdivision. Most of the 34 buildings and hangars were located in an area generally bounded by Mercedes Street on the north, Winscott Road on the east, Cozby North Street on the south, and Walnut Creek on the west.
As aircraft became commonplace in Benbrook, so did plane crashes. In fact, Carruthers Field held the record for the most plane crashes of any Canadian air training field. Many pilots were trained at Carruthers Field; and a few died there too. Some of those lost in Carruthers Field are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Fort Worth, where their graves can be visited today.
Vernon W. Blyth Castle
One of the most notable pilots at Carruthers Field was Vernon W. Blyth Castle (Castle being a stage name), whose death shocked not only Benbrook, but the nation. Part of the famous Vernon and Irene Castle dance team, Castle and his wife introduced the tango to the United States in 1913.
Vernon Castle Memorial
A memorial for Vernon Castle (pictured) was erected in 1966 at the crash site near the corner of Vernon Castle Avenue and Cozby West.
After the War
The training field and its buildings were razed in the 1920’s. After the war, airfield land was purchased from the military and turned into a dairy farm. Although the legacy of the airfields is well-preserved through photographs, there is virtually nothing left of the physical footprint of the airfield in Benbrook.
Additional information is available in Benbrook's history.