Excerpts from "Practical Flying - By A Flight Commander" pub. 1918
How things have changed. Or not as the case may be.
Practical Flying - The Complete Course of Flying Instruction
By A Flight Commander
By Major - General Bracker"
"This book appears at a propitious moment ; the Royal Air Force is in the throes of creation, and the strong individualities of the RNAS and RFC are in the course of fusion. Aviation has shown the world some wonderful steps in progress during this War, not the least noteworthy of which has been the advance made in our methods of training. The Responsibilities of the Flying instructor are great, and his work hard and unceasing. His is the dull round of duty day after day, without the glamour and excitement of service in the Field, and often without the appreciation which it deserves, Every day confirms the growing importance of aviation in war ; indeed it seems that all other means of bringing the enemy to his knees have almost ceased to progress, whilst our aerial fleets go on expanding and improving until at last they will bring us victory.
20th March 1918"
"Which Men Make good PIlots?
"Generally speaking, the average man will make a fair pilot. There are some owing to natural nervousness ...will never become pilots at all. Observers and balloonists...learn the actual handling of the machine more quickly than the complete novice.
An Aeroplane is very simple type of machine compared with a motorcar, for instance...the tyre problem on the aeroplane hardly exists. Where accidents do occur generally is in getting off or in landing...the risks can be practically eliminated by care on the part of the pilot.
"Preventing Engine Failures"
"Parts of an engine most likely to give trouble are the sparking plugs, the ignition wiring...piston rings, obturator rings (where fitted) and the lubrication system
"The switches require to be continually looked after to see that they are working efficiently. The tumbler type, such as is used in electric lighting installations, is the most reliable.
"Repairing a Broken Petrol Pipe: To repair a broken piperubber tubing can be slipped over the ajacent broken ends, which are then bound up with copper wire and insulating tape. ...Black smoke from the exhaust indicates too much petrol as does a long yellow flame"
"Learning to Land"
"It may be nted that there is no need for the pupil to hold the controls as tightly as he can, or to jam the rudder with his feet"
"In getting off, a pupil must accelerate the machine gradually... when it has attained its flying speed pull back the control lever or elevator very gently
"In landing, the pupil first cuts off the engine, puts the machine at the correct gliding angle by moving the control lever forwardthen, on appraoching the ground, which he must watch intently 20 or 30 yards ahead of him, he pulls the lever back slowly untill he has flattened out a foot or two above the ground... the machine will slowly sink as it loses its flying speed and touch the ground quite slowly and without jar
"The First Solo Flight and Aerodrome Practice"
"Before starting on a flight, whether the first solo or a 200 miles cross country journey, it is a wise plan for a pilot to look over his engine and machine methodically
"Engine Economy: It is desirable to get under way gradually. This saves the machine, which should at all times be treated as fragile and very sensetive piece of mechanism. On a long flight it pays to throttle down the engine every now and then and to glide down a thousand feet or so
"Discomfort of Bumps: During their early flying experiences, many pupils are apt to become alarmed at the bumps they find in the air...In flying, it is a question of the higher the fewer...but at anything above (1000 feet) height the air is quite calm . Bumps have been known to occur at heights of 10 000 feet or more, but this is very exceptional.
"Sometimes it happens that a pupil, on his first or second solo flight, may lose himself, in which case he has only himself to blame for not studying the lie of the land while under dual-control instruction.
"Advantages of Practice"
"It is a very curious fact about aviation that the more one flies, the less one minds it, and the less one flies, the less one feels inclined to.
"Recreation and, if possible, a change of scene are useful in getting the best out of pupils. It is a bad thing when an accident has taken place for pupils to be able to congregate and discuss all the details among themselves. It would be far better if they were able to go away and play a game of football or cricket, and so forget the accident.
There is More, However I'm getting rather tired, and id like to see how this goes down first. If people want more, i will oblige, but not tonight
I particularly enjoyed the bit about the "long yellow flame........" And there are times when one wishes that the phrase "Generally speaking, the average man will make a fair pilot" could be engraved at the top of every PPRuNe page.
"The colouring of a map is useful in other ways besides indicating height. Woods, for instance, are often coloured green, railways are indicated in black, roads in red or brown, and water in blue. Towns are often shaded black, although, of course, this is only done in large-scale maps.
"There is still room for very great improvement in aviation maps. Motor maps are of little use, as they generally show a confused mass of small details, which are quite unnecessary to the aviator. All he wants are a few general landmarks depicted clearly and accurately... At a fair height, say, from 5000ft. to 10,000ft., many of the small details given in ordinary maps are unnoticeable.
"Maps of the Future"
"Special aviation maps are being produced from time to time in which only main features that can be recognised by an aviator from a height are included.
"There is certain to be very great improvement in aerial maps in the future, and it seems probable that photography may be called to the aid of the aerial map maker.
"Preparing for a Cross-country Flight"
"there are certain pilots who, when told to fly somewhere, hurry away into the air without proper preliminary study of their course and the country over which they are to fly. No wonder such aviators often lose themselves and meet with other mishaps. It may almost be said that careful preparation for a cross-country flight is half the flight finished.
"Radius Of Action"
"This presupposes that he is already familiar with the quantity of oil and petrol carried by the machine and the hourly consumption of fuel. In out-and-home flights he should be able to work out his radius of action, not forgetting to allow for the wind and the time taken in attaining his height, otherwise he may run out of petrol on the return journey.
"Finding One's Bearings"
"Having worked out the course it will be found useful to divide the line on the map which joins A and B into equal distances, each representing, say, 10 miles on the ground.
"Of course it is of the utmost importance that all these preliminary calculations should be accurate, and if he calculates his course as north-east when it should be south-west, or reackons the wind is with him when it is against him, he is sure to make a mess of things ; hence the importance of checking preliminary calculations very carefully, as these mistakes are more common than one would imagine.
"Landing on Strange Ground"
"If it is necissary for a pilot to land off an aerodrome in order to find his way, or for any other cause, but not because his engine has failed, he will make more certain of hitting off his field by flying into it and using a little engine
"Obviously, when landing on strange ground he should choose a field free from obstacles, for if he has to come in over trees or houses it will mean that there will be much less room for him to land.
"One last word before a pupil takes to the air. In view of possible forced landings, it is just as well to take plenty of money on the journey. This will not only make the period of waiting for relief more pleasant, but will also facilitate repairs if made on the spot with the aid of local motor men or carpenters, as well as the possible guarding of a machine by a farm labourer.
"The pupil should know the telephone number both of the place he has left and of the place to which he is going, in orfer to ring up either aerodrome when he requires assistance.
"Obtaining a Pilot's Certificate"
"When the pupil has made one or two successful flights, he may wish to qualify for his pilot's certificate, which is issued by the Royal Aero Club of Great Britain and Ireland. His instructor will provide him with the necessary forms, which he will fill up and forward, togethr with his photograph and the sum of £1 1s., to the Club, whereupon his name will be placed upon the list of pilots, and he will receive his brevet or ticket, which resembles a motorcar license, and is useful to take with him on cross-country flights, where it can always be used as a reference or proof of identity. The address of the secretary is 3, Clifford Street, Now Bond Street, London, W. 1.
"the test imposed before the certificate is issued is a simple one. The pilot must make two solo flights and execute a certain number of figure-of-eight turns in the air. He must also land with his engine cut off from a height of 100 metres, whilst on the first part of the test he must land within a certain distance of two marks on the ground. It does not follow, however, that because a pupil has taken his ticket he is an expert aviator. The ticket flight is the simplest possible test, and he still has a long way to go before becoming a qualified pilot.
"The Medical Aspects of Aviation"
"Drinking and smoking"
Alcohol is better avoided altogether, and, similarly, excess in smoking, which may cause palpitation, faintness and double vision. Most aviators smoke too much. Diet should be generous and nourishing, as there is a good deal of nerve strain and wear and tear of the nervous system during (the first 20 hours of solo flying)
"Well - regulated physical training is of great value, and pupils should be afforded every recreation of mind and body at an air station.
"The fact that aeroplanes are now so improved and structurally strong that there is little or no danger of anything giving way in the air, should reassure pupils, who sometimes are distressed with this thought whilst in the air ... It is adviseable for all pilots to carry a stout knife and a wire cutter in the outside pocket of the flying coat, so as to be able to cut themselves out of a crashed machine.
In my previous post, i gave the impression that the book was written by Major General W. S. Brancker CMG, Comptroller-General of Equipment of the Royal Air Force (to give him his full title). This is not the case. The book is actually written by Flight-Commander W. G. McMinnies, R.N. The chapter on the Medical aspects of flying, partly quoted in this post are by H. Graem Anderson, M.B., Ch.B., F.R.C.S.
Dancing with the devil, going with the flow... it's all a game to me.
Join Date: May 2000
It is adviseable for all pilots to carry a stout knife and a wire cutter in the outside pocket of the flying coat, so as to be able to cut themselves out of a crashed machine.
These days it would read:
It is adviseable for all pilots to carry a stout knife and telephone number of a lawyer in the outside pocket of the flying coat, so as to be able to cut the throats of any lunatic religious extremists attempting to hijack their machine.
I found some ammusing quotes in a book (can't remember which one) on early pilots, when journalists were having some sort of love affair with them (second quote: definately )
"Sleek in mind and body as the streamlined machines they pilot through the skies, these modern day mercuries are sorted out of the common run of humanity by a selfless elimination process which tolerates no flaw of body, nerve or character" Literary digest Nov 1936
Something has kept these chaps young, and it isnt asceticism either. When they play poker they play all night. When they smoke they smoke too much. When they drink their glasses leak, and when they make love complaints are rare" Fortune 1941