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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 10th Jun 2016, 19:49
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Hmmm ... I might disagree with some aspects of that, Danny.

1. Many of the young ladies I trained with and worked with were less than stunning! Chunky or twig-thin seemed the norm

2. Some did indeed depart the fix early into the arms/beds of aircrew, but they tended to amortise their training [as indeed they still did when I left the system]. Others had full careers, at least to the 38/16 point and in some cases beyond. Although my gorgeous OCTU (Feltwell) girlfriend from Junior Blue Sqn [I was on Yellow] apparently lasted less than 6 months into productive service - ISTR she was Admin (Sec).

3. "Good A-levels would suffice" ... so my 6 O-levels, acquired over 2 years of apathetic interest in Skool must have made me a miracle!! All we needed then was 5 O-levels for DE(SSC) commissions. I recall vividly the tension at my interview with AOC MATO about getting a Permanent Commission [to 38/16]. Mercifully, subsequent promotion to sqn ldr assured the cash-flow to 55

4. I believe the upper age limit for entry into ATC training was eventually made 34. After that, it was deemed [from CATCS stats] that the success rate [one never says 'failure'] dropped off markedly. I know from front-line OJT training, never having done CATCS as an Instructor, that the older ab inito ATCOs were much slower and harder to train. They just didn't have the mental agility, or speed of thought/action, that was needed at the busy Units [Terminal and Area] that I was working/training on.

I had the unpleasant task of 'sacking' 2 sqn ldrs at Eastern Radar, posted in their later years [45+ ?]straight off the Area Course as potential Supervisors - they had no chance of coping, despite our best efforts. But the policy then was that all ATC sqn ldrs should have an Area ticket ... regardless of age/ability. A sad period in my career, as OC Training Sqn and Local Examining Officer [LEO].

5. However ... my generation was schooled by yours, and we were rapidly show/taught/told which end was up. As a baby plt off in 65, my mentors were all WW2 aircrew with little tolerance for anything other than 100% professionalism in dress*, behaviour and [of course] controlling. I was abused and whacked with a Nav ruler on a few occasions by bemedalled MAcr, WO and flt lts


* At CATCS in 65, our Instructor (Flt Lt Nat Tr***er, long departed) used to inspect us A/Plt Offs in the morning to ensure our [detachable] collars were clean and buttons shiny. If not, we were sternly advised too speak to our Batman about his performance Nat and I subsequently worked together at ERD on the shop floor

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Old 10th Jun 2016, 21:37
  #8682 (permalink)  
Danny42C
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MPN11,

Regarding your points 1-2-3, I defer to your more extensive experience in ATC - and perhaps (in respect of Point 1.), advancing age leads one to lower one's sights to a degree ! Nevertheless we did lose our WRAF at Leeming with quite remarkable speed. As regards minimum educational standards, I must admit that I took those from memory (and that is notoriously fallible). Even when I volunteered in late '40, it was a requirement for potential pilot/nav volunteers to have School Certificate with Credits in Maths and English, and I would have thought that that would have been increased by the '60s.

Now with Point 4, we are in full agreement. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but not very many, and he is a slow learner. There are always exceptions, but in general the failure rate went up with age. In the case I mentioned, she was so nervous that it was a mystery to me how she got past the Selection Board in the first place. Be that as it may, we got her through the final exams at Shawbury, but I would have been doubtful about her future.
... But the policy then was that all ATC sqn ldrs should have an Area ticket ... regardless of age/ability...
That's my career down the pan for a start, as I'd always regarded Area Radar with horror and revulsion! But as my career had vanished (at the hands of a Medical Board) long before (which was the reason I was in the Branch in the first place), it didn't matter very much. As you say, it is nice for a family man to have a secure income to 50+, and a pension after that. Mine worked out at 42% of my pay (at age 50), and I've been drawing it for 44 years now.

Were we really such hard taskmasters as you recall ? (I remember Flt Lt N.T. well enough, he chased the junior Instructors round, as well). But you must admit that we turned out a good product (in the main).

Danny.
 
Old 10th Jun 2016, 21:53
  #8683 (permalink)  
 
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Danny - I'm still chuckling at "they tended to vanish in a cloud of orange blossom", although my "current next of kin" is, quite inexplicably, less obviously amused!

Jack
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Old 10th Jun 2016, 22:00
  #8684 (permalink)  
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Jack,

Ah, young love........ (may not make the world go round, but sure as hell keeps it populated !).

Danny.
 
Old 11th Jun 2016, 08:50
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MPN11 - when were you at Watton/Eastern Radar? I recall the night of the Canberra/Victor collision when I think I am correct in saying that the controller when they were lost in a cu nim was a young direct entry ATCO - I remember him feeling devastated. Ever come across a WO called Buzz Warrior? His daughter is Mrs W's best school friend.
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Old 11th Jun 2016, 08:58
  #8686 (permalink)  
 
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Danny, I was never harshly treated at CATCS. Indeed, my main recollection of the Instructors was their determination to get us through the course. The "beatings and abuse" came during OJT on my first tour, albeit rarely, until I had been knocked into something resembling a 'proper ATCO'

My only 'Instructor clash' occurred on my GCA course, when a certain fg off [later AOC MATO] insisted I set the rheostat on the Sim to display range rings every mile. I reset to show at 5 mile intervals, as I was headed for an MPN11 truck where only 5-mile rings were available ... and I found the display hard to work with all those concentric circles! After 'a bit of a barney', I reluctantly did as I was told and, after the Exercise, complained to our Course Commander, one Harry T of your acquaintance. Inevitably he supported the Instructor
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Old 11th Jun 2016, 09:05
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As a further note, Danny, I know that Area was regarded with a degree of horror by many at that time. I'm not sure why that was so ... perhaps the remote locations, not on a 'proper Station', and with no aircraft to watch from Local?

Another factor may have been tour lengths. As Area grew in size in the late 60s, there was a great need for controllers and postings would require re-training at new Units - so there were no fixed tour lengths. You arrived, and you stayed! My first tour at Eastern was 4 1/2 years, with time off for good behaviour
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Old 11th Jun 2016, 09:14
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Wander00 ... I arrived at ERD 2 years after that tragic event, but it remained a topic of conversation. It certainly made us all particularly apprehensive when controlling aircraft near the overhead, or in areas of clutter.

Sorry, Buzz Warrior is an unknown.
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Old 11th Jun 2016, 15:30
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Cherchez L'Homme !

Jack,

Reverting to your #8684,
...Danny - I'm still chuckling at "they tended to vanish in a cloud of orange blossom"...
leads me to wonder whether you had similar problems with your WRNS (Mrs D. was a WREN for a period postwar, but that was long before I came on the scene).

I have always been amazed at the decision to allow WRNS to go to sea as part of a ship's company. At one stroke their Lordships must have put the teeth on edge of every Naval Wife. These had long been resigned to having their husbands disappear for months at a time, secure in the knowledge that they were safe from the (conventional) temptations of the flesh while boxed up in a floating steel monastery; now all that was at hazard.

No doubt the WRENs enjoyed it (and EQUALIY had been achieved !), but had I been the First Sea Lord (which, having regard to the safety of the Realm, thank the Lord I'm not, Sir), a wicked grin would have appeared on my weatherbeaten cheeks.

Why not select one frigate or corvette, and crew it with only females (from Captain to ship's cat) ? How popular would service in such a floating nunnery be ? Then we would see what the real draw was: Life on the Open Wave - or Jolly Jack Tar ?

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 13th Jun 2016 at 13:56. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 11th Jun 2016, 15:51
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Danny - your last para - was that not the subject of an Ealing comedy film in the 50s or 60s.


Best ATC related story - decision taken to introduce WRAF in the tower at Cranwell - meeting of the great and the good to sort out practicalities, of which at the end of the day only one remained, toilets - standard tower - one for officers, one for airmen. "No problem", says SATCO, we'll put a tent outside."


"That's no good", says Command WRAF Officer, "My girls like permanent erections"...........
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Old 11th Jun 2016, 19:55
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Wander00,

Doesn't ring a bell. Anybody ?
..., toilets - standard tower - one for officers, one for airmen..
Jokes aside (and that was a 'guddun'), we operated for a year or two at Leeming, after I arrived, on a unisex basis. The girls put up with it - but they didn't like it. Giggle - but supposing it were your daughter, your sister ? Admittedly the were "Ladies" in Flying Wing (50 yards). Fine on a warm Summer afternoon - but what about a winter night, pelting with rain and howling with wind ?

No one seemed inclined to do anything about it (asking to have money spent on "unnecessary" Works 'n Bricks was not a career-enhancing move). But I was not inhibited in that way. I put up a memo. through SATCO to OC (F). After making the case, I added, silkily, "I cannot but think that Group Captain Paul [Command Queen Bee] does not know of this arrangement and would not like it if she did".

This was bluff - but a little quiet blackmail works wonders ! Next Monday the first pack of bricks was at the back door. Get a satellite picture of RAF Leeming now, zoom right in on the Control Tower, look at SW corner. A small structure mars the mathematically perfect square of the original ground plan.

I suggested that a small blue plastic plaque be affixed to commemorate my part. But somehow it failed to gain support.....

Leeming was my last Station before retirement. What they did at other places, I don't know.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 12th Jun 2016 at 12:02. Reason: Typo !
 
Old 11th Jun 2016, 20:19
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MPN11 (#8688)',
...As a further note, Danny, I know that Area was regarded with a degree of horror by many at that time. I'm not sure why that was so ... perhaps the remote locations, not on a 'proper Station', and with no aircraft to watch from Local?...
No, the objections were (1) you were "down a hole" (or at least under artificial light all the time) as (2) a "battery hen" sitting wth all the other "hens" before a bank of screens. In a Tower you had blue (?) skies, green grass, aircraft and little birdies to watch. Even in Approach, you could always go upstairs in quiet periods, natter to Local and the Duty Instructor, and you had a 'slave' CA/DF and a monitor on Approach frequency (for, as you know, the "Gaydon" Towers could be operated solo from the top). Radar was stuck to his/her AR-1/PAR tubes below in "approach" - but you can't win 'em all !

Who, in his sound mind, would want to change places ? Best idea, let the civvies control all Area Radar, civil and military (isn't that so in USA ?). Then when they cock it up, they have no RAF to blame !

(your #8687),
...insisted I set the rheostat on the Sim to display range rings every mile. I reset to show at 5 mile intervals, as I was headed for an MPN11 truck where only 5-mile rings were available ... and I found the display hard to work with all those concentric circles! After 'a bit of a barney', I reluctantly did as I was told...
If you were doing "Continuous Descent" or "Step-Down" PPI Approaches on an old ACR-7 (or anything else which had a PPI, but could not use PAR for some reason), then it would make sense. Otherwise no. You were right !
...and, after the Exercise, complained to our Course Commander, one Harry T of your acquaintance. Inevitably he supported the Instructor..
Had to - otherwise Instructor's authority would be zilch from then on. Harry and I were instructors there together at that time. Later he would appear at Leeming as my SATCO, before going on to higher things (as you know)

Bit puzzled by "complained to our Course Commander" Surely that was the "Admiral" ?

Danny.
Last edited by Danny42C; 11th Jun 2016 at 18:50. Reason: Get rid of Smiley who got in Title uninvited !

Last edited by Danny42C; 12th Jun 2016 at 12:01. Reason: And Typo
 
Old 12th Jun 2016, 10:23
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Danny42C .. your #8693,

1. Whilst I accept your perspective on the working environment, I found the actual work infinitely more interesting and varied. OK, ERD was a bit special in that sense: in addition to normal Upper and Middle airspace work over East Anglia and beyond, we provided centralised Approach Control (CAC) to numerous (10 or more) RAF and USAF airfields on our patch. So every shift presented totally different challenges, procedures, aircraft types and flight profiles ... as opposed to a horde of Leeming JPs going round the circuit[s] day after day

2. If we are speaking of "Admiral" Tim De****k, he was the "Course Coordinator" on my JATCC in 65. Sadly there's a paucity of RAC Course photos in our "Old and Bold" library [mine in 66 is missing, for a start!] but they all have a variety of flt lt Course Commanders [Messrs Greenbrook and Cargill, and (possibly) Irving would seem to overlap your time]. I always understood that the flt lt instructors took turns in 'leading' a Course, presumably under the overall aegis of the Admiral and then OC CATCS himself?

Having consulted my archives, my [excellent] RAC Course Results do not indicate any of the staff. However, the Course composition was, perhaps, typical of that time of change:
3 x Flt Lt
1 x Plt Off
9 x MACR/WO [of which 3 were either recoursed or RTU]
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Old 12th Jun 2016, 12:36
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One of the tasks of a QFI was either 'Duty Pilot', or going to the Tower to watch your own students during their solo consolidation trips.

I was QFI-ing at Abingdon, but it wasn't much fun in Local at the time, with a stuffy SATCO and eager-tigger ATCO most of the time. Plus it could get very busy with 2 UASs and the AEF cowboys. So I used to go to Benson with my baby Bloggs to do their solo consolidation.... It was only about 5-10 min away and had only a few 146 corgi-carriers and the occasional Wessex most of the time, so was like a private aerodrome.

The first time I went there, up in Local was a delightful WRAF officer and her little assistant, quietly looking through some shopping catalogue and chatting. It was great, the assistant kindly fetched me a cup of tea and I explained what my student would be doing. Off he went to do his 3 circuits, taxy round, do another 3, rinse and repeat. Then back to Abingdon after turning abeam the tower windows - to see the ladies waving!

This became a regular run for me - the odd packet of biscuits and jar of coffee ensured excellent service (and that they wouldn't mention my 'spirited' departures to anyone important). Plus my students finished their solo consolidation well before Summer Camp, so I wouldn't be stuck in the tower whilst everyone else was off doing aeros. But when we arrived there, it was to find that the same lady ATCO had been posted there. She coped with Nimrods and Bulldogs in her calm, unflappable way but my cheeky students (mainly the girls) christened her '0898 Fiona'.....

QFI-ing had its enjoyable moments back then - somehow I doubt whether it's quite so much fun in the 'Kraft durch Freude' UAS world of today
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Old 12th Jun 2016, 12:59
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The average ATCO in a quiet Tower is always glad to get a bit of extra trade ...looking out at an empty airfield isn't much fun.

When the Strubby Varsities weren't night flying, all we would have was a few Canberras taking the Staff N/Spec N students on a grand tour of the UK, in the hopes of getting them lost, returning some many tedious hours later [from our POV, of course]. So one used to ring Patrington [then the Fighter Command Diversion Cell] and assorted other airfields offering them "6,100 ft, full lighting, QGH/GCA/ILS and an empty circuit".

I think I overcooked that one night, and had to call "Enough!" as we were getting a bit hectic! Oh, and got a billow-king from DSATCO for letting a Comet do rollers without checking the LCN first*

* I assume the Captain didn't check either .. it was quite a few numbers short. Runway inspected, no visible damage.
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Old 12th Jun 2016, 15:14
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MPN11 (#8694),
...1. Whilst I accept your perspective on the working environment...
That was the major factor in our dread of an Area Radar posting !
... as opposed to a horde of Leeming JPs going round the circuit[s] day after day...
We had our moments of excitement (as a Master Airfield) all the same. Offhand I remember the day (1971) of the Wingate Vulcan (although it was all over when I came on watch after lunch), when a burning Vulcan was coming down from the North, the Captain had baled-out all the back office people, and announced his intention of trying to get the stricken aircraft down at Leeming. Of course we had cleared the "horde" of JPs away, and all the Crash Crews and ambulances were out with engines running, everything was teed-up, and the Top Tower was filling up with the Top Brass.

But he could not put the fire out, pointed it out at the North Sea (only a few miles to the East); both pilots banged-out. Then the Vulcan had other ideas, went into a wide left hand descending spiral and impacted near (but mercifully not on) a school at Wingate. There were (miraculously) no casualties (Google it, take first item on menu):

"crash of Vulcan XM610 - neam.co.uk
www.neam.co.uk/wingate.html"

Then there was the day when the C-in-C of Maintenance Command left Catterick (still in use as an airfield then) in his Comm Flt Pembroke. They got up to about half way to Leeming, then an engine failed. Put out a Pan, and (obviously) chose Leemimg. Again we'd told the JPs to go away and play somewhere else (or land at Dishforth [our RLG] if fuel short), and made all ready.

Pembroke landed safely. Nav came up to ATC to complete formalities. "What's with the donk ?", asked him affably. (This shows advantage of having Old Hairy pilots in ATC - he would bridle at such a question from a wingless youth or girl, but it was quite acceptable from me). "Lost oil pressure ?" I added...."Lost a pot!", he tersely replied. Indeed they had, a whole Leonides cylinder had blown off, gone through the aircraft like a six-inch shell, but done no other harm (don't think it's ever been found). What the C-in-C (I think we put him on the train) said about Maintenance when he got back home is not recorded.... Never a dull moment ! - and don't get me started on the Night of the UFO (that never was). It's all on this Thread.
.
..I always understood that the flt lt instructors took turns in 'leading' a Course...
Don't think so in my time (if so, they never asked me) I just gave my lectures, orchestrated "Mocks", mentored named students (I don't think I "lost" a single one), and tried to keep out of the way of Group Captain W*****e !
...3 x Flt Lt...1 x Plt Off...9 x MACR/WO [of which 3 were either recoursed or RTU]...
A small Course indeed ! (did the Instructors outnumber you?). The new boys/girls must just have started coming in. Interesting that old aircrew should fail; this chimes exactly with my own experience. Perhaps they were too old by then. I came to the Branch at age 33, and the great bulk of entrants then would be around that. In '65, I would be 44.

More thoughts on Point 1 of your #8682, but that will have to wait till later.

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 12th Jun 2016, 15:34
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Danny,
I have just borrowed a book from our local library called 'One Flight Too Many by HJS (Jimmy) Taylor. He trained as part of the 'Arnold scheme' and became a PR Spitfire pilot and then a POW. Have you read it ?
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Old 12th Jun 2016, 16:13
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A small Course indeed !
GCA Courses then appear [from the photos] to be around a dozen. Of course [ooops] they may have had overlapping Courses, progressing from Basic to Advanced phases.

The JATCC [Approach and Local] then was about 24 students ... my Course was a typical mix of youth and experience, with 8 x a/plt offs! "Admiral Tim" in the centre seat, naturally!
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Old 12th Jun 2016, 22:10
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A/POs still outrank the lowly Midshipman!
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Old 13th Jun 2016, 08:34
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John,

Not sure about that ! Always thought they were level-pegging. Authority ? Union Jack might have a word ?

Danny.
 

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