Originally conceived as an adjunct to NAS Miami, The Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale (NASFL or NAS Fort Lauderdale) soon became an independent base for operations training specializing in TBM/TBF Avenger torpedo bombers, as part of the Naval Air Operational Training Command.
TBM/TBF Avenger pilot training was taught among other degrees (Radiomen, Machinist's Mates and Ordnancemen), along with radar and fire control operator training. Also the Naval Air Station Boat Facility, the Fort Lauderdale Navy Section Base, and the Fort Lauderdale Coast Guard Station located at Port Everglades were established and/or worked in conjunction with this base. These units were instrumental in providing practical target bombing practice as well as air and sea rescue operations and retrieving of torpedoes. For example, the USS Absicon was a decoy ship that served in training and the USS Asheville (both operating from Port Everglades) tested experimental weapons for the NASFL.
Training of Avenger Pilots:
An Ensign was eligible to train at this Operational Training school, until he had completed Primary, then Intermediate courses at other schools. Pilots were paired up with gunner and radioman at NAS Fort Lauderdale, and went through a 8 to 12 week training period, then they went to "action" as a team. Each week a new training squadron began, therefore there were 9 to 10 squadrons in training at a time. NAS Fort Lauderdale was their last stop before being sent to war, either to the Pacific or Atlantic campaigns.
The base also had Beechcraft SNB-1 twin engine bomber trainers, and Boeing-Stearman N2S-5 biplane trainers. The teachings and indoctrination for Avenger pilots included the following:
- Familiarizing Ensign cadets with the specialized Avenger aircraft, its technical aspect and special techniques.
- Ground School included instruction in navigation. Such as exercises with the Link Trainer Flight Simulator.
- Flight experience with landings and take-offs.
- After a few landings and take-offs, to fly solo.
- Bombing flights.
- Navigation flights over the water.
- Formation flying.
- Gunnery runs on a towed sleeve.
- Night flying.