Masks are required as the campus is at red status.

Navy Pilots at UCA during World War II

During World War II, enrollment at Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas – UCA) plummeted from 764 students in the fall of 1941, to 289 students during the 1943-1944 academic year.  UCA President, Nolen Irby, had seen the steep decline in enrollment coming and had taken action to bring more people on campus.

President Irby and UCA Board of Trustees chairman, George Bachelor, asked the U.S. War Department to use UCA as a temporary military base.  Soon, UCA was home to temporary branches of the Women’s Army Corps, Army Air Corps Cadets, Navy Cadets, Marine Corps Reserve and Navy Reserve.  For a short time UCA was also the headquarters of the Arkansas National Guard.

Today we will focus on the Navy Cadets.  Two photographs are attached, and one of those photographs show the Navy pilots standing by their airplanes.  The Navy trainer was the N3N Yellow Peril. The other photograph is Third Platoon, a group of inexperienced Navy Cadets.

According to the CAA-WTS pamphlet that was sent to UCA by the Navy after the war ended, the following caption went with the photograph of the Navy Cadets standing at attention.  “Not many of us can fly, but we haven’t been here long enough to complete our eight hours dual instruction.  Sub-squad swimming for some of us, and a muscle-building obstacle course for all of us.  Ground school instructors patiently give the “gouge,” and Southern belles in the Little Store add to esprit de corps.  We know the landmarks – Shad, Terry’s, the ship, the commons, the post office, and on “liberty” night, the Conway Theatre. ‘Mayor Kane is the only businessman in the United States who operates a picture show as a front for a popcorn stand!’ remarked Cadet Slattery from Brooklyn.'”

Photo Courtesy of CAA-WTS Pamphlet (PAM 201 in UCA Archives)

In regard to the Navy trainer, the N3N Yellow Peril, the following information will help to explain the reason for the airplane’s name.


According to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum website, “The name “Yellow Peril” was not the official name of this aircraft but a generic name applied to several primary trainers including the Boeing/Stearman NS and N2S Kaydets.  The name originated from the fact that all naval trainers had been painted orange-yellow since 1917 as well as from its use in Naval Aviation Reserve bases where prospective Aviation Cadets received their first training.  In the event that a cadet failed to solo within a certain period of time, he was in “Peril” of not being appointed an Aviation Cadet.”


Photo Courtesy of CAA-WTS Pamphlet (PAM 201 in UCA Archives)


Navy Cadets at UCA took their classroom instruction from UCA professors.  The professors covered courses in navigation, engines, aerology, communications and civil air regulations and recognition.

According to records compiled by the federal government, UCA did a good job of training pilots.  Out of 85 colleges in the U.S. involved in military training, UCA ranked seventh overall. In aviation and ship recognition, UCA was first in the nation, and third in the nation in navigation.

Approximately 500 Navy pilots were trained at UCA during World War II.