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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 2nd May 2014, 12:56
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Danny42C
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Danny continues finding bits to fill in the jigsaw.

Examining that invaluable document, F 5994, I find that on 24.2.65. I was certificated (certified ?) as a SPEC/INSTR by a W/Cdr C.I. whose signature I cannot read. As I arrived at Shawbury about four months before, it would seem that we must have been u/t and under supervision (?) for the first few months. This would have made good sense, and even more sense if I'd been sent on an Instructional Technique Course at the time. But now I remember that it was only at some later date that I was put on one of these Courses (and I think got uprated to B1).

I cannot remember where it was or for how long, only that in his "demo" lecture, a Radio Fitter Sgt caused me (whose radio technical knowledge begins and ends with the on/off button), for about five magical minutes until it faded, to understand the Function of the Intermediate Frequency in a VHF set. (He came away with a well deserved A2).

I enjoyed a small triumph of my own. It was that exercise where you pick a slip of paper out of the hat, and have to talk sensibly "without hesitation or repetition" for one minute on whatever subject is written on the paper when you turn it over. Mine was "Humour".

I got to my feet thinking furiously. Then a light lit in my brain. "Humour", I began, "is an exclusively human phenomenon - no animal can laugh", and I was away. I've always been blessed with the "gift of the gab", it was easy to develop and expand the theme, and I was in full spate when the examiner cut me off after about 45 seconds. My heart bled for some of our other Course members, whose minds went blank as soon as they were on their feet and they "froze" miserably.

Now it is my recollection that, for the whole of the time that I was at Shawbury, the School Instructors (on a rota) also provided most of the Controllers for Local and Approach in the Tower (I don't remember any radar there, although of course there were the instructional radars on the GCA School at RAF Sleap - a few miles away). But my first endorsement there was not till 19.11.65: "TWR - AC". This was a whole year after I came, so either the "two birds with one stone" policy only came into force then, or my turn simply hadn't come round (IIRC, we each did a month's "R&R" in the Tower - there being no intensity).

Now the eagle-eyed ATCs among us will have looked at the "Endorsement Abbreviations" inside the cover of their "F 5994s", and noted that my "TWR" means nothing - I suppose Local Control was what was intended ("ADC"), and Approach Control is "APP" - but what I got was "AC", which stands for "Area Control", which it most certainly was not. (This was a fate which, if not necessarily worse than death, ran it pretty close, and one which I was mercifully spared). And who had penned my endorsement ? Looks like a "S/Ldr Scott - LEO". So he must have been the "regular" SATCO, and I think have had one or two "permanent" ATCs.

On second thoughts, I checked my Form's Stationery Office code date suffix, it was "10/61", so I suppose it might have been a case of "That was Yesterday - it's All been Changed !" with the abbreviations (but there was no reason why it should).

And what did we have in the way of Classroom Aids ? On my own Course (#42 in '55), it was "Chalk and Talk", but now we had an Overhead Projector and (I seem to recall "Whiteboards" - what were they ?). I don't think we used chalk anymore, which was a pity, for with the chalk comes a blackboard duster, which could be hurled with good effect at the odd back-row student who was just dropping off. I always used to say that I didn't mind them dozing on the last period of a warm afternoon, but it was a bit much when they went to sleep on you at 0830 ! (Of course, you can't do that sort of thing nowadays, I suppose).

I remember that we got some fully exposed (opaque) X-ray film from the medics, trimmed them to OHP size, and with a small punch made very realistic diagrams of the Calvert approach lights as seen from various angles. The colours (red, green, blue and amber) on the airfield and VASI light presentations were bits of coloured sweetpapers stuck over the holes. It was quite artistic.

Apart from learning the next lecture, and then delivering it (on the age-old principle of only needing to keep one step ahead of your class), we devised practical exercises. There were, IIRC, several simulator CA/DF consoles. These were quite convincing: one instructor would stay with the student on the "tube" while another (out of sight, but linked to the "victim" by headset) would manipulate the trace.

And then there was the dreaded "Shawbury Mock", bu that can wait for another day.

G'day, all.

Danny42C.

And if you are a teacher, by your pupils you'll be taught !


PS: Gayford,

Welcome aboard ! A new (metaphorical) "Toad" in town ! Thanks for remembering me ! Now you can help me fill in the gaps; you'll have a lot in common with MPN11, I think.....D.
 
Old 2nd May 2014, 14:34
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ATC PMs are flying in the background Danny

More anon!!
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Old 3rd May 2014, 01:14
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I've always been blessed with the "gift of the gab"
I'll say. And long may it continue, Danny!!
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Old 3rd May 2014, 09:29
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Originally Posted by Danny42C
Now the questions start. The VISSIM simulation looks marvellous; the five screens give as much of a panorama as you might see in a real Tower without turning round in your chair. Could you manipulate the "cyber" aircraft to fly to match your patter ? (For example, could you "fly" your aircraft into the ground and synchronise that with the flames and smoke ?) Or taxy them out and "take off" at will ? How many Instructors were needed to "fly" the "aeroplanes" and do the R/T - one each ? (in which case it would then be very labour-intensive). But then, IIRC, the "Mock" sessions were carried out by only one Instructor, weren't they ? Or was the whole thing pre-recorded in some way, and you just had to supply the R/T ?
I have to admit I have absolutely no idea how it operated!! We drew up the specification, it went out to contract ... and then I was posted to "other things" in Main Building. Perhaps there's a lurking CATCS instructor who could enlighten us both?

Originally Posted by Danny42C
Now the eagle-eyed ATCs among us will have looked at the "Endorsement Abbreviations" inside the cover of their "F 5994s", and noted that my "TWR" means nothing - I suppose Local Control was what was intended ("ADC"), and Approach Control is "APP" - but what I got was "AC", which stands for "Area Control", which it most certainly was not. (This was a fate which, if not necessarily worse than death, ran it pretty close, and one which I was mercifully spared). And who had penned my endorsement ? Looks like a "S/Ldr Scott - LEO". So he must have been the "regular" SATCO, and I think have had one or two "permanent" ATCs.

On second thoughts, I checked my Form's Stationery Office code date suffix, it was "10/61", so I suppose it might have been a case of "That was Yesterday - it's All been Changed !" with the abbreviations (but there was no reason why it should).
They did indeed change the Endorsement Abbreviations from time to time. My F5993 (of the 11/63 vintage) has 2 stick-on pages of revised abbreviations inside the front cover. I can't read the original anymore, as its obscured by the sticky AL1. But throughout 65-68, in my 5994, the local endorsement was TWR/AC which stood for Aerodrome Control. AL1 appears to date from 69, as my ATCEEB check then has the "TWR" prefix dropped and it was just ADC (Aerodrome Control, with AC remaining as Area control). AL2 then went to TC ("Terminal Control") with the sub-text in brackets ... TC(ADC), TC(PA), TC(App) etc. And Area became AC, AC(Alloc), AC(Sup) etc. The exalted LEO, EXAM and INSTR remained unchanged throughout, as did the "fully trained controller" endorsement of AC

There, I think that's sorted out
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Old 3rd May 2014, 18:26
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F 5994 Abbreviations.

MPN11,

It's a fair cop guv. I'll go quietly !

D.
 
Old 3rd May 2014, 23:07
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Danny42C
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Nutloose,

Undoubtedly Organic !

I'll give you a clue: "vive la differènce !"

D.
 
Old 4th May 2014, 20:20
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Danny, your list of classroom aids omitted the most important one of all, the Chinagraph pencil. Without that the Royal Air Force might never have survived. Certainly it would have complemented your White Boards and projectors. In combination with that other triumph of democracy, clear Fablon, it meant that pilots could reuse aviation charts with DME range rings drawn in before the product was carefully applied on top. Planned routes could then be drawn in Chinagraph on the Fablon, with fixes entered en-route for DR heading and timing corrections.

The most vital application was however the all important Org Board. Every Authorisation room, every Eng Control, every boss's/adjutant's/adminer's office was festooned with them. Sheets of perspex mounted or hung on the walls covered the required tabulated layout of columns and rows whereon the data was entered. If there is not a chapter in the Official History of the Royal Air Force not dedicated to that one item then I am afraid that it is sadly in want. Each colour was of special significance, and much was the woe if the blue or whatever colour could not be found! Unlike computer records these days which are saved, backed up, and claimed to last for ever, the entire board would be wiped clean with a cloth and a strong smelling solvent (no doubt also bearing some copy write trade name) at day's end, or whenever, leaving a blank board for refilling next day.

A technology as important to Air Power as any aerodynamic or power plant breakthroughs, yet when was the last time you saw a Chinagraph pencil?
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Old 4th May 2014, 22:44
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I haven't seen or used a Chinagraph for years and years, but it seems Mr. Amazon is still selling them. Tempted to get a pack just for old times' sake...
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Old 5th May 2014, 01:37
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Chinagraphs, and Danny plays a one-man band.

Chugalug,

How could I have forgotten my Chinagraph ? I have one still, I used it to write on sellotape stuck over the title strips on the old VHS cassettes, so as I could rub off and rewrite as required. WHS up here stocked them up to quite recently, but "Chinagraph" got blank looks, you had to ask for "wax pencils/crayons". (And have you tried to ask for "toothpicks" at a chemists recently ? They look at you as if you've come off another planet ! (it's "Dental Sticks" now).

In action, you jotted down callsigns etc on the glass or perspex on ths desk in front of you. The best cleaner was a duster, spit on the end and dip in the nearest ashtray (things of the past now, I suppose)......D.
************************************************************ *
Now I'm really hanging on to the last shreds of my memory, and using my imagination to supply things which must have been there, and I would more than welcome any additions to the story, and corrections from my readership.
(written before the foregoing came in).

The basic idea was simple enough. You created a simple facsimile of a typical Local Control Room and seated your "victim" at a control desk. He would have a headset (or were we still in the old days with hand mike and monitor ?), a telephone connection to an imaginary "ATC switchboard", R/T selectors, R/T to the Crash vehicles and the usual squawk box to an imaginary "Runway Controller".

He would have a dummy "Airfield Lighting" panel. I don't remember there being a remote simulator CR(A)/DF console (although all the more modern Towers had them, so that a single Controller could handle both Local and Approach up in the top Tower in quiet periods). Of course there was no "GCA" to complicate matters (or was there ?).

(In any case, all the QGHs and other approach work would be practised in the separate D/F simulator suites).

At the other end of his headset (or whatever) would be the Instructor, who had to play all the parts himself (if he were a good mimic of various voices and accents, this would be an enormous advantage).

Again I must stress that the foregoing is just a rough sketched outline of the general set-up to "put you in the picture". (the details are mostly guess-work - it's almost 50 years ago, after all).

What is more important is how this Heath Robinson assembly was used as a training aid, and here I feel myself on firmer ground. The sessions were about a half-hour long (IIRC). The student did not have an Instructor by his side to murmer the odd word of advice (as in the D/F sims): the idea was to let him make his mistake(s) and then develop the scenario so that these would come back (perhaps twenty minutes later) to haunt him with the consequences.

Really it was a case of "throwing him in at the deep end", seeing how he got on (and nobody got hurt whatever happened). Naturally the Instructor acting as "Ringmaster" was at the back out of his sight (but I think we could watch him through a panel), and make hurried notes.

It would have been a great help if we could have taped the Instructor/student line, but I don't think that technology had got that far then. It would have made the "wash-ups" after the exercise much more productive if we could run "replays" (and cut out many an argument !).

Now we come to the nitty-gritty: how were the "plots" decided for each exercise ? I was quite surprised to find that, when I was first there, they were "ad-libbed" by each instructor: he would simply feed in a story "off the cuff". Of course, you couldn't have a fixed scenario, because the situation would change every time the student reacted to an "event", and you had to adapt your plot to it.

There were "staples" which were regularly trotted out: the call from the Fire Section asking permission to release the standby vehicle to put out a garden fire which was out of control. If he fell for that, it led in smoothly to the most regular item of all - the Crash on the Airfield ! (this was such a "cert" that they "boned it up", and would swing immediately into the correct "Crash Action" at a drop of a hat). In years to come, many an ATC Local would say "Thank God for Shawbury Mock" - and mean it !, when the day came (as it always must).

There was always a balance to be struck. While you must always "temper the wind to the shorn lamb", and take it easy in the first few weeks, there was always the underlying serious question at the back of it all - how will he cope when the heat comes on ? A Controller who buckles under a reasonable amount of pressure is in the wrong shop. You must make him sweat a bit, otherwise there's no point in the exercise.

Some Instructors overdid it. Everyone has a breaking point somewhere, but it is cruel (and counter-productive) to push the student to the point of collapse, just to see how far he can go, and I never (AFAIK) did so myself.

Now that is enough for the moment. More next time.

Goodnight, chaps.

Danny42C.


You never know what you can do till you try.
 
Old 5th May 2014, 07:51
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The Wailing Wall.
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Old 5th May 2014, 08:22
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I am now suffering from Danny42C-induced stress, as I can't locate my chinagraph pens. They are in a rigid plastic case [originally the retail pack for some small cigars] so that the waxy tips didn't stain my shirt pocket. And there are 4 of them in there ... black, white, yellow and red. I can only assume they have migrated to the attic somehow.

Oh, well, looking for them will help pass the time, once I've washed the car and done some weeding
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Old 5th May 2014, 13:47
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Well, I found the last of mine ... they don't make 'em like that any more!

http://s1278.photobucket.com/user/Ol...7bdc.jpg.html]
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Old 5th May 2014, 14:41
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I still have a Dalton computer, Douglas protractor and the odd chinagraph pencil.
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Old 5th May 2014, 16:33
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Geriaviator, I raise you one chinagraph, although I still can't find my 4-pack. Or, indeed, my box of refills, HMSO for the distribution of.

God, how much junk have I collected over the years??

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Old 5th May 2014, 18:21
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Well alright, other than Danny, Geriaviator, Wander00, and MPN11, when was the last time anyone else saw a Chinagraph pencil?

Anyway, real men whittled their Chinagraphs, unlike those girls lipstick ones illustrated above! Not having any left (all presumably whittled down to the last half inch), I can only reply with the following which might assist those left, like me, with a Douglas Protractor but having forgotten all the many and varied ways it could be used:-







Impress your friends with these long forgotten procedures at your local tonight. It is bound to lead you on to anecdotes about your interesting and varied careers. Just think how fascinated they will be! Why, it reminds me of the time when...


Coming soon, how to upgrade your Dalton Computer with increased speed and ROM!

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Old 5th May 2014, 18:37
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Damn, where's the cover for my "Douglas"? Buggrit. I know it's here somewhere, with the tapes still attached.
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Old 5th May 2014, 18:49
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Chinagraphs Ancient and Modern.

Chugalug,

My Chinagraph (pencil-sharpener-able old type), was supplied by WHS not all that long ago. They were the original RAF issue type (the posh "propelling pencils" came in later - I kept a couple of these for a few years after I came out, but they're gone now).

You had to be careful with the old pencils - if you tried for too narrow a point, it would break off. Whittling would be tricky, I'd think, unless you had a very sharp knife.

Why have our Posts gone all fat again ? Or is it just my laptop ?

D.
 
Old 5th May 2014, 19:06
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Right, back to the Alternative Reality that is ATC. Whilst Danny42C is burbling at his chalkboard, or wondering what this model airfield is all about, other ATC warriors in the mid-60s are trying to master the MPN11/CPN4 at the GCA school at Sleap.

Now this photo has just been posted to the ATC Old and Bold library ... OMG, what the Hell was all that? I lived and worked there? And actually knew some of what it was all about? This is apparently Bay 15 ... but Bay 9 and Bay 12 were identical. They were the controller bays, the other bays were tech stuff. Or something. Nice to have a name for your workplace - "I'm in Bay 12 today, whooppee."



There are the 2 PPI's of course. The top one is Search/Director, the lower one is Talkdown. If you look carefully, on the lower display [to the right] you can see the joystick that servoed the Precision beam left/right/up/down. But WTF are all those other panels? In a GCA truck one lived in a world of odd panels, some of which one does not touch [in case WW3 breaks out with the Techies]. Others were essential to the day-to-day operation of this bit of kit.

And most of the buttons/switches were painted with luminous paint, so every control position had a UV lamps that would be waved around to illuminate things you might needs to see in the dark ... and it was DARK in there. So, to save us from glowing in the Mess, we also had to wear dosimeters, the badge of a real controller, which every now an again went to SMC to determine whether we would ever breed again.

There were also things that did something, and other things that did something else. Some were radar, some were comms, some probably turned on the kettle in the Tech truck. How on earth did a plt off know how to work in that shambles?

Not seeing it here, but there is also a 12-line comms panel, to the right of the controller. It's in a cut-out on the desk, so to operate the switches you need to turn your hand upside down. And there is a faint glow-worm of a lamp, so if you wear your watch on your right wrist, you can also see the time. I have worn my watch on the right since 1966, although not inverted these days

As Captain Scott said in his Diary, "My God, this is an awful place."


Last edited by MPN11; 7th May 2014 at 18:56. Reason: Wrong Polar explorer quoted. oops.
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Old 5th May 2014, 20:22
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Chinagraph

I still have at least two chinagraph pencils knocking about somewhere, used in the 1960s to 80s. Alas, no lead in the pencil now.
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Old 5th May 2014, 20:47
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Danny42C
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ValMORNA,

Join the club !

D.
 

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