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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 28th May 2014, 15:22
  #5701 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
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It's nice to see some old buildings like that left as they are with a kind of sleepy look about them. I am in Shanghai at the moment and I was last here fifteen years ago. The city has exploded both horizontally and vertically but that didn't faze me, when I worked in Shenzhen it was the same. There are some of the old concession buildings left but I then to see a friend whom I knew who had just bought a new flat then. His home telephone wasn't working and I knew him before mobile phones so I didn't know that. I went round to his apartment and it wasn't there. Sixteen years old and it had already been demolished to make room for a multi thirty floor apartment complex.

When I was last here I was taken to a large storage shed. It was full of the cars that had been left behind when the Europeans left in 1949. It was an absolute gold mine of vintage and veteran cars. Covered in dust and with flat tyres but oozing atmosphere.

They've all gone too.
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Old 28th May 2014, 20:15
  #5702 (permalink)  
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Danny realises the value of Phonetics.

Starting (?) in WW1, there have been several phonetic alphabets used in the British Forces (plus another used by the Post Office/British Telecom, and all manner of other unofficial ones). AFAIK, the "Daddy" of them all was "Ack, Beer, Charlie, Dog....etc" of WW1 (which lingers on to this day as "Ack-Ack"), through "Able, Baker...etc" up to the current "Alpha Bravo.....etc".

The changeover points gave rise to some confusion. An apocryphal tale relates a difficult phone conversation going as follows: ".....Soap say) ...eh? ...Soap !!... Spell it !...Sierra...eh? ... Sierra !...eh?...Spell it! ....Sugar-Item-Easy-Roger....etc!" But to neglect using it when there is any possibility of mishearing invites disaster.

Now what follows is Shawbury legend: it was before my time: I heard it in'65, but it was not current in '55, so it must have happened between those dates. I take up the story (slightly embellished):

It was fairly quiet in Shawbury Tower (they were IIRC, a Diversion for TH and Valley). A "Flash" call came in from Ternhill: "There's a C-47 just passed us low overhead, wheels down, heading your way. No R/T contact !" Well, not to worry. Another old Dak was no problem.

They scanned the horizon. Over it came this huge fire-breathing swept-wing monster to plank itself down without ceremony on their 6,000 ft. All of which it took up plus the taxiway at the far end, leaving about 18in of tarmac free in front of the front twin wheels, coming to rest with smoking brakes at the end of a mile of rubber streaks, and with about 15 feet of nose out over the grass.

From under this opened a hatch, a ladder came down and then the three occupants: "How are y'all in lil'old England - long time since Ah was here - when's the next bus into town ?"

Of course it was a B-47. It seems that there had been a catastrophic electrical failure which had taken out all the electrical instruments on the panel; the radio had gone, too. It was on a transatlantic delivery flight into Burtonwood (don't ask me how they came to be running round Shropshire). Low on fuel, Shawbury was the first possible spot they saw after letting down through the overcast. All's well that ends well ?

Well, no, not quite. Shawbury was hors-de-combat straight away with this monstrous cuckoo in their nest - for they had no means of towing it out, and it couldn't turn round even if they started the engines. Luckily Burtonwood rose to the occasion: next morning a big servicing party turned up. One lot set to work at once, changing tyres, wheels and brakes. Others swarmed aboard and "lightened ship" by unbolting everything which was not essential for flight and not too big to go out through the hatch.

Of course, they had a tug and dolly. So when the servicing parties were finished, and the electicians had traced and fixed the electical problem, they hauled it back to the take-off point, put in the crew and just enough fuel to comfortably get to Burtonwood, stuck on a few JATO rockets, lit the blue paper and retired quickly.

There was an enormous roar, flames and a huge cloud of black smoke. Our overnight guests and their B-47 were literally hurled into the air by sheer brute force, and when the gentle breeze coming down from the "blue remembered hills" had dispersed the apocalyptic cloud, they were out of sight.

And that's it. Of course it was a perfect story to impress the point on successive ATC Courses during their early R/T lessons - many must remember hearing it there.

Goodnight, everone.


"Send three-and-fourpence - we're going to a dance"
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Old 29th May 2014, 00:14
  #5703 (permalink)  
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Danny42C ... You were very kind not to introduce that B-47 scenario into any Sim sessions I experienced

Although there must be some other unremembered ones from my time as a CATCS student. Was there one with some idiot driving an MPN-1 all over the airfield?

Last edited by MPN11; 29th May 2014 at 13:31. Reason: Spelung
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Old 29th May 2014, 01:04
  #5704 (permalink)  
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Yes, I always made a point of impressing on my students that, one day in their future careers, something would happen to them that had happened to no man before and would probably never happen again. I would say that every one of us old-time Instructors had such a story in his repertoire, but forebore to introduce it into the Mock Control sessions, as nobody would believe it, and we would be accused of making up impossible situations just to "throw" them.

Have a care, sir, for you speak of the idiot I love (me) ! You are thinking of the occasion when I brought operations at Strubby to a grinding halt with the Matador heading the MPN-1 convoy (on a runway change) out of fuel, and people (for some strange reason) seemed to think it was all my fault.

Of course it would be at the exact spot on the taxiway where we constituted a giant thrombus which stopped all aircraft movements until we were removed !

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Old 29th May 2014, 01:30
  #5705 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2003
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Aircraft type confusion lives on... one of my colleagues told me this story from the early days of Australia's computerised ATC system

Some years ago, a pilot somewhere in the GAFA (Great Australian F-All - ie the Outback) called air traffic control before he took off from an uncontrolled aerodrome for a flight to Adelaide. There was no flight plan in the system for this trip so the controller needed to create one so the system had something to work with. He didn't recognise the aircraft type that the pilot told him so he asked for the aircraft code to enter into the system. The pilot didn't know but said "it's probably Sierra Hotel Alpha Charlie."
Not knowing any better the controller thinks he may as well give it a go then, and enters 'SHAC' into the aircraft field. The system accepts the code so the controller shrugs, assumes it must be correct and duly activates the flight plan and the aircraft takes off.
The flight plan makes its way through the system and eventually causes a strip to print out in the tower at Adelaide, its destination. This is picked up by the aerodrome controller who gets a little bit excited when he sees the aircraft code because he's a bit of a spotter and didn't think that there were any Shackletons still airworthy, let alone one in Australia. This'll be one to watch! So he tells his colleagues and as the aircraft is cleared onto the ILS they all get their binoculars out to see it land...
The first sign that something is not quite as it seems is when one of the controllers noticed the lack of black smoke that would normally be trailing from the engines of an old aeroplane of that vintage. The second sign is that the aeroplane is much smaller than they were expecting. The third sign is that the aeroplane that appears looks nothing like a hulking great Shacklebomber. Instead of looking like this...

...the aeroplane that actually turns up on approach looks like this:

Cue some very disappointed tower controllers. It was a SHRIKE COMMANDER, also known as an AERO COMMANDER. The pilot had made up the code for the system and no-one had bothered to check that it made no sense.


Last edited by kookabat; 29th May 2014 at 12:49.
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Old 29th May 2014, 04:55
  #5706 (permalink)  
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the lack of black smoke that would normally be trailing from the engines of an old turboprop of that vintage
If it was trailing black smoke they would be worrying about the piston rings on the Rolls Royce Griffon engines.

As Danny mentioned in his last post.


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Old 29th May 2014, 07:33
  #5707 (permalink)  
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Rule of thumb fault diagnosis for smoking piston engines drummed into me by my instructor (Dad) 50+ years ago; White smoke - coolant, black smoke - fuel, blue smoke - oil.
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Old 29th May 2014, 07:37
  #5708 (permalink)  
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Red smoke: Rocket juice! Thats an awesome photo :thumbsup:
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Old 29th May 2014, 11:15
  #5709 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Aircraft type designation error...

Back in the 80s...approaching Cardiff in our 150hp Airtourer...they wanted to know the aircraft type. My late lamented chum Dennis used the designation "VT-10". They were a bit surprised when we turned up instead of the rather larger Vickers machine.....
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Old 29th May 2014, 18:33
  #5710 (permalink)  
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CPR Hudsons

Chugalug - re your 5701, it's the immediate forerunner of the CPR Royal Hudson class and is numbered in the same series commencing 2800; mechanically very similar to its successor, which aside from a semi-streamlined appearance differed only in some minor details such as a slightly increased boiler pressure.

The CPR today maintains one of these earlier specimens in running order, and it occasionally ventures out on to the main line. They seem to have noticed how Union Pacific gains much from its policy of always having had (from Day 1, no less) at least one working steamer on its roster, and UP is now restoring a 'Big Boy' (arguably the world's largest ever steam loco) to operating condition; now that will indeed be something to see - and hear!
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Old 29th May 2014, 21:10
  #5711 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
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Once Dad had arrived on the base he was introduced to the buildings which all seem to be based on the same design - a bit more luxurious than Nissan huts perhaps!! The area around the RAF Block seems to be fairly pristine so perhaps the block hadn't been up for long?

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Old 29th May 2014, 22:16
  #5712 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Apropos phonetic alphabets Danny,

When I was a Cub, then Boy Scout in London SW16 circa 1949 we used to chant out the troupe's name by its initial letters.
Presumably from what you indicate, it was a hang over from one of the early WWI versions.

Esses, Toc, Oh, Esses, Dubbleyou, Ack, aL, Don.....

= St. Oswald....

mike hallam
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Old 30th May 2014, 15:19
  #5713 (permalink)  
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harrym, if as you say the CPR Hudsons were all numbered in the 2800 series, that would seem to indicate that hummingfrog's post 5692 loco (#3612?) is not one. I'm not sure if it is a Hudson at all, could it be a Pacific or even a Northern? Not being able to count the driving wheels makes it tricky to identify, indeed it could well be a US loco and not Canadian anyway (the footplate crew seem to be wearing the de riguer striped ticking type US engineers' hats for a start).

Is it just me or does anyone else feel a perverse delight in trying to identify an approx 350 ton steam loco in a thread dedicated to military aviation? It was after all used for the transportation of British cadet pilots. If it is the same loco that is hauling the train through Pueblo, that would put it in Colorado wouldn't it?

Hummingfrog, can we have a clue please?

Last edited by Chugalug2; 30th May 2014 at 15:50. Reason: name change!
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Old 30th May 2014, 15:39
  #5714 (permalink)  
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MH - when we were kids, our parents used to rattle on about apples, dog, etc, or rap their fingers on the table. Only when we were older did we discover that as former PO telegraphists they conversed in phonetic alphabet or Morse code so we did not know what they were discussing!
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Old 30th May 2014, 16:52
  #5715 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
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Gaining An R.A.F. Pilots Brevet in WW11

Back at Terrell and the mighty AT6. A new instructor who was quite severe and impatient. First we had eight hours just sitting in the cockpit memorising all the bits and pieces. It took me five hours to solo but then it was O.K. The Harvard, as all who flew it know, would bite you if you didn't watch it until you stopped after landing. Then it was forced landings, precautionary landings, stalls, spins aerobatics and lots of instrument flying. Usually the pupil sat in the back seat under the hood on return cross countries Then it was formation flying and night flying. This usually at our satellite,Tarver, where a flare path would be laid, hopefully into wind. On my twentieth birthday on a solo night cross country I developed mumps. Obviously it had been brewing but became apparent on the trip. I was hospitalised by the American Flight Surgeon on the base. There were five of us. And the American happily regailed us with it'S complications!! We were given two weeks leave on discharge and a fellow sufferer and I decided to hitch hike to Los Angeles. My American Mom was horrified and thought that I should rest. It was very easy to hitch then. One lift took us to Fort Worth and the U.S.O. Where we could get a bed for a dollar. An American Sergeant was offering a lift to El Paso if we could drive. Mom had taught me to drive her very nice Pontiac and Pop had let me drive his pick up so, though we were not supposed to drive in the U.S. "Blind eyes" seemed to be the rule. It was a long drive and we reached El Paso at dawn. We thanked our Sergeant and spent the day in Juarez having a guided tour of the prison, where the inmates were able to have their wives with them! The next day we had one lift with a Liutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy who took us via a night stop in Phoenix to Riverside, a short distance by Greyhound bus to LA. Hollywood beckoned and we ended up in the Stage Door Canteen. There I met an executive of Universal Studios and his wife who invited me to stay with them over the Easter Holiday.
Charlie wanted to stay in the Canteen so we agreed to return to Terrell independently. My friends took me to the Easter Sunday Sunrise Service at the Holywood Bowl. Later they took me to the city limits and I was back on the road. Further lifts took me to the border with Arizona at Blythe. There was a customs post there to stop people bringing in or taking out oranges. (can't remember which) the Customs officer found a man going to Flagstaff instead of having to go via PHoenix. People would give servicemen a bed for one dollar which was great for we hitchers.
Next day two hitches to the Grand Canyon. I should have liked to have spent the night at the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon but no time and no money. Then it was back to Terrell via Albaquerque and Amarillo.
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Old 30th May 2014, 18:22
  #5716 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2002
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SFTS Part 2 (post-Christmas '43 - late Feb '44)

Chugalug2, ref your 5714 the detail is insufficiently clear for positive i/d but to me, in some undefinable way, neither the loco nor the general scene look very Canadian. There is also the problem that (to a UK eye, anyway) it was usually difficult to identify the owning company of any particular North American loco from its appearance, as compared to those at home - for who could possibly mistake a Swindon product for anything else on rails?!

To get back OT for a change, here follows the second part of my SFTS memoir!

SFTS Part 2, post-Christmas '43 to late Feb '44.

Early in the New Year came another brief spell of bitter cold, giving us a taste of what might have been in a more normal winter. Standing orders concerning movement during blizzard conditions applied to all, and already we had been regaled with the fate of two airmen trying to walk from one hangar to the next in a howling snowstorm the year before; wandering off the footpath, they had fallen into a deep pit dug for some drainage works, were unable to get out or attract attention, and duly froze to death. Fortunately no such tempest occurred during our time at Swift Current, although the below-zero temperatures that prevailed for several days necessitated reduced activity in our unheated aircraft; just as well, as like anything British they were none too reliable in such climatic extremes, and despite the use of carb heat it was a constant battle to prevent the engines from spluttering to a halt during taxying. Adjustable throttle stops were provided so that higher idle rpm might be set as required, but in effect gave only the equally unsatisfactory result of excessive revs while taxying on an icy surface.

A couple of days' flying was lost to the elements, but a third day of brilliant sunshine tempted our masters to have a go using the cold weather routine. Instead of lining up aircraft on the ramp as per normal, they were readied for flight inside the heated hangars with pilots in position, checks complete to start-up and airman kneeling on each wing ready with their crank handles; hangar doors were then opened, one Oxford pushed out and the doors closed behind it. While yet moving, both engines were fired up simultaneously (with any luck) and the doors reopened for the next aircraft after the first had taxied clear. Failure to start engines within a minute meant no start at all, and one was then pushed ignominiously round the hangar for re-entry on the other side. The success rate was about 50%, and since it took time to re-warm the failures in a now chilled hangar the flying programme slipped further.

Fortunately the weather soon returned to being merely cold as opposed to glacial. With the course now more than half over, it was a matter of honing what we had already been taught rather than learning anything new. Formation flying took up some of the time, an exercise I did not find easy and never particularly cared for anyway. Lack of radio increased the risk factor, it being difficult to communicate by hand signals as these were not easily seen unless dangerously close to each other.

Cross-country flights of up to three hours duration were also undertaken, sometimes over areas of little or no habitation; navigation was aided by a drift sight, to squint through which while maintaining straight & level flight was an exercise in dexterity. Mere map-reading was not enough; one's navigation plot had to be maintained on a Bigsworth Board, a contraption apparently from the dawn of aviation history. A piece of plywood about 18 inches square with a pantograph ruler at the top and a large clip to hold the chart/map, one somehow used it while continuing to fly the aeroplane; not easy at the best of times, especially if the lateral trim was incorrectly set (there was no manual aileron trimmer). When not in use the board was best jammed down the side of one's seat; placing it on the main spar box immediately behind was inadvisable, as it would then slide rearwards out of reach.

An air-to ground photography exercise proved interesting, the object to take a sequence of in-line pictures whilst accurately flying a straight path suitably corrected for drift. The camera was a standard RAF job as used for target photographs over Germany, and I still have a good print of the centre of Swift Current taken from several thousand feet. To save time this exercise was flown as a mutual detail, that is to say several students were sent off together in one plane with each occupying the pilot's seat in turn. This was perhaps not such a good idea; acting as copilot at the end of one such flight I was surprised when my colleague appeared to lose control on landing, so that what was almost a polished arrival suddenly became a disaster with the aircraft bouncing up the runway in a most unairmanlike manner. Hearing a loud guffaw behind me after the final hop, I turned and saw another of our motley crew splitting his sides at the rear of the cabin; at the crucial moment he had run back towards the tail, thus creating an out-of-trim condition responsible for our luckless pilot's downfall.

Night flying was largely confined to circuit work so that the maximum number of landings might be achieved. Although aircraft landing lights existed even in those far-off days, their use was frowned on and perfect arrivals hopefully achieved through judgement of approach and touchdown by reference to the flare path along the runway edge; thus (on dark nights at least) one's first awareness of the ground was by wheel contact rather than eyeball - no approach lights, no angle of approach indicator, just pure skill. Yet most of us became quite proficient and perversely even enjoyed it, and certainly there was a sense of achievement following a succession of safe and incident-free landings. In fact the Oxford possessed remarkably effective landing lights, in true British fashion operated by an old-time switch with fluted brass cover and porcelain base that properly belonged in an Edwardian drawing room; but there were sound reasons for training us to manage without external illumination, as its use at home could provide an easy target for enemy intruders.

The combination of a cold, dark night plus lack of adequate air traffic control was partly responsible for a most destructive multiple accident towards the end of our course. The runway controller, whose task it was to flash his Aldis lamp at aircraft awaiting takeoff or landing clearance, finding himself discomfited by the increasing chill in his glass cupola decided to move to the front seat so as to derive greater benefit from the vehicle's heater. By so doing of course, his field of vision was restricted to an arc of barely 180 degrees with little view of the circuit and none at all up the runway, and so it was not long before the inevitable occurred. Aircraft turning on final approach were (supposedly) given landing clearance provided that the runway was unobstructed, this assessed by visual inspection prior to flashing the necessary green light; however, lacking any view up the runway, our hero decided to work on a time interval system. With the permitted maximum of four aircraft in the circuit things went well for a while until one pilot was caught out by the “insufficient carb heat” trap, trundling to a halt with both motors dead and apparently lacking the nous to roll clear onto the grass before losing headway. Without radio he was unable to inform anyone of his predicament, and before he could locate his Verey Pistol to fire a warning "red" the next Oxford smashed into him, the remaining two following in fairly short order so that soon a monstrous heap of matchwood was all that remained of four of his Majesty's aircraft.

Needless to say this occasioned grave displeasure in high places, and the wretched controller was probably put away for life. Miraculously nobody was hurt and the episode had no effect on our course's completion, so we hoi polloi were vastly amused by the whole episode. Anyway, our course was the penultimate one prior to the station's closure, following which all the Oxfords were to be scrapped; as noted earlier, they were comparatively aged and it was not considered worth sending them back to UK at a time when all ships were crammed with supplies for the forthcoming invasion of Europe. By the end of course towards the tail of February 1944 most of us had survived, although a few had fallen by the wayside and been reassigned to other aircrew duties; however, no injury or fatal accident had occurred at either FTS during our 5 1/2 months, a tribute to the BCAP and its staff. As the end drew near we were duly informed by our unloved disciplinarian that, much against his will, we would shortly set forth into the wide world as "scaly, ten-a-penny sergeant pilots or equally scaly, ten-a-penny pilot officers". This gracious intelligence was naturally communicated well out of earshot of the instructors, most of whom might be said to qualify for this charming description of our superiors.

Down on the flight line a greater degree of goodwill prevailed, perhaps because our instructors now envisaged the prospect of operational duty at home following shrinkage of the BCAP. As for us students, the end-of-course flying tests passed off more or less painlessly and suddenly the day we had thought would never come was upon us, when we donned freshly pressed no.1 uniform and paraded for the award of our pilot's wings.

Held in one of the hangars, this event was surprisingly well attended by the locals. Few of us knew any of them, but I suppose anything out of the ordinary relieved the tedium of prairie life and their presence added a sense of occasion; certainly, I for one was pleased that they came. About a third of us graduated as Pilot Officers and the remainder as members of that vanished breed the Sergeant Pilot, of which I found myself one; for which in the end I was duly grateful, as nearly all my friends were in the same boat. I later discovered that my mother was less pleased, and could only answer her indignant query "why no commission?" with the reason that I had possibly not impressed the Station Commander in the final interview; for I recalled that he had looked rather sour when given a negative response to questions on my attitude to Rugby Football, a game I detested. Not that it bothered me one iota, for in the wartime air force Officer and NCO aircrew were treated equally insofar as allocation to flying duties was concerned and at that stage of my life nothing else mattered.

The next afternoon, shiny new stripes on our sleeves, we boarded the eastbound transcontinental at Swift Current station, waved off by another group of locals. Unusually we had been granted three weeks leave before having to report to Moncton prior to the transatlantic journey home, and most of us elected to head for the eastern fleshpots. For my part, I was determined to visit a much-loved aunt in Connecticut, maybe taking in New York & Washington also; all of which came to pass, but is no part of this particular saga.


I have said little about my fellow-students, although I recollect some of them fairly well. We were a pretty mixed bunch; a few of us had started Service life under the University Air Squadron scheme but most were direct entry cadets from all walks of life. It was quite an education for one such as myself from a relatively sheltered background to live with others so different in upbringing and outlook, and yet in an age when social divisions were supposedly so much harsher than today we got on famously. I do not recall a single enemy among them, and was pleased to count many as friends as indeed they considered me. True, I was occasionally ribbed for being (apparently) a bit 'different' although always good-naturedly, just as I would often feign bemused incomprehension at some of their stronger regional dialects (such lack of understanding not invariably feigned, either!). We lived happily together in our crowded barrack-room, united in adversity against authority in general, our dreaded Glaswegian Flight Sergeant in particular, the Oxford and its strange habits, and not least the very real fear of being "scrubbed" for non-achievement. Sometimes my companions' straightforward outlook on life and what it had to offer could be rather startling, but universally they believed that life was for living and humour was never far away. I count myself fortunate to have known them, the good ones far outnumbering the less praiseworthy, and the memory of their comradeship is for me one of the more worthwhile recollections of the war.

Much official propaganda was directed against the evils of unauthorised low flying, some quite ingenious. I recall a parody of Longfellow's "Hiawatha", where the hero came to grief while so engaged: following the inevitable impact with earth, his head "…...........slowly trundled o'er the prairie, gently trundled o'er the prairie, slowly trundled to a standstill...........at the feet of Minnehaha, laughing maiden" - who then, not unnaturally, experienced a sense of humour failure (actual words forgotten). However it was as well to take such propaganda seriously, for the lowliest member of the Swift Current cookhouse staff was a sad figure wearing pilot's wings but no badges of rank. This unfortunate individual had flown an Oxford beneath a railway bridge whilst engaged on instructional duties at North Battleford, another SFTS far off to the north west; subsequently reduced to the ranks for this heinous offence, he was posted to our airmens' mess to undertake menial tasks in full public view – no doubt as a dreadful warning to us all. Although we felt sorry for him at the time, his harsh punishment must have had some effect on the rest of us for our course maintained a clean record on this score.
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Old 31st May 2014, 05:27
  #5717 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 98
Posts: 7,646
No Gain without Pain (Comment on recent Posts).


"...It took me five hours to solo but then it was O.K..." It took me 4.15, (much the same): that was about par for the Course.

"...The Harvard, as all who flew it know, would bite you if you didn't watch it until you stopped after landing..." Too right - it'd ground loop on you at the drop of a hat !

Once again, I can only gaze in envy at the freedom and travel opportunities you had in your BFTS training, compared with our "all work and no play" regime in the (first few) Arnold School Courses. Perhaps they loosened up later ?...D.


But even if we were worked hard in the Army Air Corps, it was in Florida and Alabama (which could even be a bit chilly in winter, as being well inland). At least we were spared the possible loss of extremities by frostbite, or death from hypothermia !

"...navigation plot had to be maintained on a Bigsworth Board, a contraption apparently from the dawn of aviation history..." "Biggles", you may remember, was (in full): "Captain James Bigglesworth of the Camel Squadron". Did Capt. W.E.Johns adapt the name for his immortal creation from the Board, do you suppose, or was it the other way round ?

"...at the crucial moment he had run back towards the tail, thus creating an out-of-trim condition responsible for our luckless pilot's downfall..." It could, I was once told, be of some use on occasion. I heard from a B-24 skipper that, if the brakes failed on landing (and if there was enough level ground ahead !), the thing would run for 11 miles before stopping.

Accordingly, if the brake failure had been diagnosed while still airborne, the crew were mustered amidships with instructions to rush in a body to the tail as soon as the mains were on. Apparently, the additional aerodynamic braking would at least shorten the overrun. (Could he possibly have been "pulling my leg" ?)

".. About a third of us graduated as Pilot Officers and the remainder as members of that vanished breed the Sergeant Pilot, of which I found myself one..." I, too, was a member of that honourable, but now almost forgotten, body, and count myself lucky to have had a year's valuable experience in the rank (which I've previously described as "the bedrock of the RAF").

It was true that a minority of the long-service non-flying SNCOs, who had toiled up the promotion ladder for fifteen years or more before reaching the Sgts' Mess, did actively resent us "Johnnies-come-lately", but most were generous enough to welcome the winged newcomers (and after all they could always console themselves with the distinct possibility that we might well vanish as quickly as we'd come). Even so, open hostility on the scale displayed by your Discip. Sgt. was unpleasant, quite uncalled for, and hopefully rare. I'm surprised that your CFI and SWO did not swiftly get rid of him, for a SFTS was no place for a man like that.

"...I had possibly not impressed the Station Commander in the final interview; for I recalled that he had looked rather sour when given a negative response to questions on my attitude to Rugby Football..." I remember that this was a hurdle which damned many a promising career. I myself fell foul of it when in front of C-in-C Fighter Command (the redoubtable Sir Basil Embry) in the matter of transfer to the General List. (As events turned out, it would have made no difference in the final outcome, anyway).

"...I count myself fortunate to have known them ("my companions"), the good ones far outnumbering the less praiseworthy, and the memory of their comradeship is for me one of the more worthwhile recollections of the war..." I'm sure all of us here would say "Amen" to that..."...D.

Cheers, both. Danny.
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Old 31st May 2014, 07:10
  #5718 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀
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Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
"...navigation plot had to be maintained on a Bigsworth Board, a contraption apparently from the dawn of aviation history..." "Biggles", you may remember, was (in full): "Captain James Bigglesworth of the Camel Squadron". Did Capt. W.E.Johns adapt the name for his immortal creation from the Board, do you suppose, or was it the other way round ?
Danny, it would seem the former. The Bigsworth Board was the creation of Air Commodore Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth CMG, DSO and bar, AFC , a pioneer RNAS pilot in WW1, to wit;
Sir Peter Masefield, a great-nephew of the Poet Laureate John Masefield, speaking at the W E Johns Centenary Luncheon at the Royal Air Force Club on 6th February, 1993 said that he had discussed the question with Johns on several occasions and although Johns said the character was a ‘compendium’ the ‘first ingredient’ was Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth who had gone to sea with the Royal Navy in 1901 at the age of 16. In 1912 he was one of the first ten officers to train in what would become the Royal Naval Air Service. In 1915 he became the first pilot to damage a Zeppelin and to sink a submarine from the air, for which he received DSO and bar. Johns used both the Zeppelin and submarine incident in two of his Biggles books.
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Old 31st May 2014, 10:11
  #5719 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 78
Posts: 4,196
First we had eight hours just sitting in the cockpit memorising all the bits and pieces.
A process that is never much talked of yet common to the Sopwith Camel and the Boeing 777, ie cockpit familiarisation. How everything shrinks in size from the wall diagrams, blackboards, whiteboards, posters, etc, of the classroom to the real thing that is now an insignificant panel, gauge, or lever crammed into the equally small cockpit space. Perhaps the groundschool phase has became more of a feature in line with such complication.

I imagine that at the time the AT6, or Harvard as we knew it, was well up there in the complication stakes, as reflected in its RAF Pilot Notes:-
A.P. 1691 D. Pilot's Notes for Harvard 2B - 2nd edition

harrym, I shall try to pick the brains of fellow volunteers at the Bluebell Railway re loco 3612. Perhaps North American readers might have an idea? All contributions gratefully received, it is the collective knowledge and experience that is the very core of this thread.

Your description of the challenge to aviation of the Canadian plains winter is vivid and instructive. Having to keep engines at high revs simply to keep them going at all created obvious problems in icy ground conditions. Having to keep airframes in a warm hangar before start up is still SOP and I have had my Hercules so cossetted at Thule before start-up and TO. Even then the starboard main gear refused to retract on selection and had to be hand cranked up.

Personal safety is of course the main preoccupation in such conditions and the buddy system requires that you only go outside at least in pairs (which wouldn't have changed the plight of your two unfortunates) and to phone ahead to the building you are heading for so that they know to expect you and to raise the alarm if you do not appear (which might have saved them).

Finally, the freedom to wander over that great country with only a requirement to report at a given place and time is a tribute to yourselves and to your superiors. Your reliability and sense of duty was of course a given, having obtained your rank and your wings, but the default state of the military mind is to never leave anything to chance. Given the mode of transportation was generally hitch-hiking, the distances covered large, and the chance of mishap in isolated circumstances considerable, it seems to me that a considerable amount was left to chance. Perhaps this was seen as both reward and rite of passage, that the boys were now made men and about to face much greater perils than merely exploring another country by thumbing it. Did anyone ever fail to materialise at Moncton or wherever, I wonder?

Danny, how good to see you in such good company with your contemporaries. We juniors may think that we now have the business of obtaining an RAF WW2 Pilots Brevet sorted but only you chaps really do, and in comparing notes perhaps even you can learn a little more of the process. Rather like learning about a military campaign long after one was involved in it, the dots and crosses can at last be added to answer the known unknowns. Thank you all, gentlemen!
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Old 31st May 2014, 12:20
  #5720 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: South Oxfordshire
Posts: 26
C.P.R. 4-6-4

I think the locomotive photographed is a Canadian Pacific Railway example with a very distinctive number style on the side. Its sister survives in preservation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Pacific_2816. Eko.
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