View Full Version : The PPL in 1930

28th Apr 2002, 18:10
Hi chaps

I've just been given my grandfather's PPL (no. 3624, valid 'all types'!) by my mother, who found it while sorting through some old papers. It was obtained in October 1930 when he was flying for the Oxford University Air Squadron and lapsed a year later in 1931 when the medical ran out. After that it was revalidated for a further year in 1932 and once again expired a year later, this time never to be renewed - he had left Oxford at this point and spent the war in SOE rather than the RAF (he applied in mid 1939 and - somewhat strangely - wasn't accepted, which he believed saved his life).

As a current PPL student, looking at this made me wonder what a 1930s PPL involved. Anyone know? What would he have been flying as a training aircraft? And why the one year medical, which seems a bit strict for a 20 year old?

So many questions :)

28th Apr 2002, 21:41
Well, SOE was hardly a soft option! As for your question, my copy of "The Pilot's 'A' Licence", dating from 1938 but first published in 1927, indicates that to obtain the licence you had to log three hours solo, then pass a flying test consisting of a spot landing from a glide and a series of figure eight turns, assessed by a Royal Aero Club Assessor on the ground, then pass a viva on air law. The book estimates the cost of training as 25. The test cost one guinea, the Royal Aero Club Certificate another guinea, and the licence five shillings.

The typical training aircraft would have been an early DH Moth (the Tiger Moth was not yet in service) or perhaps an old war surplus Avro 504.

The licence was valid for one year, renewable on logging three hours solo and obtaining a medical certificate.

The requirements might appear minimal. but the aircraft were difficult to fly and, before Gipsy engines, prone to engine failures, so you had to be pretty sharp to qualify. There are vivid descriptions of learning to fly at that time in David Garnett's "A Rabbit in the Air" and TE White's "England Have My Bones"

29th Apr 2002, 19:11
Thanks FNG :)

29th Apr 2002, 21:56
Check your e-Mail

1st May 2002, 10:16
By the 1950s, the PPL course was looking rather more like it does today, as far as I can tell from a very patronising tome aimed at "air minded youngsters" called "Come Flying With Me" (the cover shows a flight of Piston Provosts about to strafe Cranwell). I assume that it was updated soon after the War. Earlier, there was no QXC, as student pilots could not fly further than three miles from a licensed aeroodrome.