The Fairchild PT-19 was a monoplane trainer aircraft that served with the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), British Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. It was used by the USAAF during the primary flying training phase as the introductory pre-solo trainer for new pilots before passing them on to the more agile Kaydet biplane.
Prior to World War II, basic flight training in the United States was generally provided in light biplanes, such as the Kaydet, which tended to be slow, stable and tolerant of fledgling pilots. However, given the increasingly high performance nature of the worlds combat aircraft, the USAAF reasoned that the primary training was too easy, giving the student a false sense of mastery that could slow down his learning or even cause him to fail. Experienced instructors wanted the primary trainer to be a monoplane, with higher wing loading that required more careful flying.
After its first flight in May 1939, the Fairchild M-62 two-seat monoplane won a fly-off competition later that year against 17 other designs for the new Army training airplane. With a wing loading factor about 43 percent higher than the Kaydet, the M-62 had a higher stalling speed and required more care at low speeds, making it exactly what the Army was looking for. It was a trainer that was more similar to the fighter aircraft the trainees would eventually fly. On September 22, 1939, the USAAF ordered 270 of the craft, with two open cockpits, as the PT-19 Cornell.
Compared to the earlier biplane trainers, the PT-19 provided a more advanced type of aircraft. Speeds were higher and its flight characteristics demanded more precision and care. It was inexpensive and simple to maintain. It was one of a handful of primary trainer designs that were the first stop on a cadets way to becoming a combat pilot. Thousands of the PT-19 series were rapidly integrated into the US and Commonwealth training programs, serving throughout World War II and beyond. Even after their retirement in the late 1940s, a substantial number found their way into civilian hands. Approximately 100 PT-19s are still flyable today.