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RAF Instructors - steely eyed or gentle and supportive ?

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RAF Instructors - steely eyed or gentle and supportive ?

Old 18th Oct 2015, 22:55
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RAF Instructors - steely eyed or gentle and supportive ?

I never myself had the pleasure of strapping into an aircraft with an RAF instructor but some of the stories of their ascerbic wit and "supportive" comments are legend. I just finished watching an old documentary from the 1980s where one student pilot endured the following on his downwind in a JP - "what about the bloody flaps", and on tapping the throttle "Well, well, come on...remember this thing, it makes it go FASTER" - I was sweating for the poor student who looked absolutely crestfallen.

So were these guys really such martinets, or was there a measure of gentle and supportive coaching as well ?
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 05:03
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There are many different types of instructor in military flying training.

Personally, I prefer the harsh but fair ones and respond better.

I find civil flying instruction generally too huggy-fluffy. You can sometimes have trouble knowing how you are doing.

"that's fine" when you know it isn't is very irritating and destabilising.


All that said, the worst example of instruction I saw was on that suzi air programme with the new pilot getting abused by some [email protected] instructor on his first circuit in the aircraft.

Harsh is ok, but only if fair.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 05:20
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Like every walk of life, there are good and not so good QFIs in the RAF. Over the years I had extensive experience instructing at every level including a spell on CFS (when it was CFS and not the neutered, scattered organisation it is now) and have seen QFIs of every ability and temperament but we did try to filter out any really bad prospects at CFS.

Fonsini, if the clip you are referring to was from the infamous Fighter Pilot programme, the instruction shown by the QFI (who I went through training with) was dreadful and I believe his instructor category was reduced because of that. The mistake the RAF made was agreeing to no vetting of the programme before it was aired
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 06:11
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I did my CFS course in 1991 when there was a significant change in the emphasis on instructional technique. We were the first course to get psychology of instructing lectures with the aim on getting the best out of the student with the carrot and not the stick. My training went along the lines of what you saw in that clip from Fighter Pilot and it was poor.

We were shown that clip at CFS as an example of how not to instruct!
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 06:51
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From my memories of the student point of view, I would say that what an instructor needs above all is patience !

D.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 07:06
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the instruction shown by the QFI (who I went through training with) was dreadful and I believe his instructor category was reduced because of that.
The story I heard at Scampton a few years later was that the QFI may have had to revisit CFS for a bit of discussion, not sure there was a re-cat. Whatever happened I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was yet another victim of that programme. Over the years I've met and/or worked with a few of those involved (students and others) - they've all claimed a heck of a lot of "imaginative" work went on in the cutting room and one or two other tricks were played elsewhere, all to get the results the producer/director wanted.

The mistake the RAF made was agreeing to no vetting of the programme before it was aired
Agreed...but I doubt the producer would ever have agreed to any loss of editorial control.

were these guys really such martinets, or was there a measure of gentle and supportive coaching as well ?
IMVHO they were all gentle, supportive, lovable people who were never unkind to children, animals..... or students.......

Last edited by wiggy; 19th Oct 2015 at 07:26.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 07:15
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Unlike navs, pilots are subjected only to pilot trainers.

On one sortie, NW of Stornoway the nav requested a left turn when he meant right. Next, NE of Aberdeen he again requested a left turn south.

Finally, given a snap diversion to Aberdeen he again called the turn wrong. Having chidded the stude twice this time the pilot executed a 270 degree turn.

The pilot was a complete prat. He couldn't see how the stude was barely holding it together. Not only that but his long turn ate up our fuel margin and we no longer had fuel to fly the proceedure. ATC was pissed off and my stude was totally unnerved before the hop back to base with no NAv kit like whizz wheel, fuller, or dividers.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 07:20
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"I'm your QFI, I'm here to help you."

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Old 19th Oct 2015, 07:20
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There are two types of instructor....those who think that they are there to "weed out" the weaker students and those who are there to actually train them! I could never really understand those branches with instructors who were very proud of their high "chop rate" - when I was an instructor I felt that my job was to pass people through the course if humanly possible and I considered it a failure for me as well as the student if I lost anyone. Most students needed a confidence boost while others perhaps needed the occasional "pull your finger out". In any event, it is horses for courses and the best method for the individual involved.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 07:28
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I thought that the 'Fighter Pilot' clip was actually a put up job for the benefit of the BBC luvvies and wasn't how that QFI normally taught students?

During my training, there were a few poseur QFIs and others who didn't want to be there. They came from the "I've told you how to do it, I've shown you how to do it, I can do it, the aircraft can do it - so why the hell can't you do it?" school of instruction.....

The better ones were those who hadn't breezed their own training and knew what it was like to struggle - so were more patient and helpful than some sky god longing to be back in his Lightning.

Gentle wit was often helpful - I got rather too low on a flapless approach in a JP and my QFI commented "Red/pinks are OK, red/reds make my bum twitch, but don't let's get down to green/greens again - OK?".

In my latter days of QFI-ing on the FunBus, the task kept increasing but without the resources to meet it, thanks to chiselling thrusters who wouldn't say no. Quite a few AAR FIs hadn't bothered to become dual qualified in both the AT and AAR role and some of the AT FIs weren't even qualified to fly in the AAR role, let alone instruct (I did like one co-pilot's comment "Watching D****n R**s flying AAR is like watching your Dad trying to programme a video recorder"). But the net effect was that the few of us who were dual qualified were working far harder than was reasonable and becoming tired out as a result - to the total detriment of the quality of instruction we were providing. I know that now with the benefit of hindsight - I just wish I'd realised at the time.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 09:39
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Quote:
"I find civil flying instruction generally too huggy-fluffy. You can sometimes have trouble knowing how you are doing."

Evidently things have changed since the 1960s...
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 10:15
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I had a very mixed bag:

First - creamie - couldn't understand why I was having difficulty - odd punch in the JP, lots of expletives and was a generally unpleasant individual. More chips than Harry Ramsden's.

Second an ex F4 pilot - unbelievable contrast to the former; very relaxed and encouraging and as a result my flying improved tenfold. I should've had him from the start and perhaps I wouldn't have used so much flex flying with the uptight creamie with a clear inferiority complex and maybe got two wings instead!

Hey ho; you can't change the past.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 10:43
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I have a fair amount of instructional experience. I was a sqn cdr at Linton and also the stnds cdr. I was also heavily involved in the work on the infamous TV film. In my opinion a very large percentage QFIs tried to do their best and would come to me if they thought they were having a personality issue with a student. I also got good feedback in the bar on a TGIF thrash. I think I would have soon learned if airborne bullying was taking place and would have jumped on it pronto. The nearest it came was when one student was having serious problems. So I reallocated him to one of my best (most successful) QFIs. After I had briefed him he asked "OK boss, do you want me to teach him or set him up" He was not serious, worked hard and the student graduated.

On another tack, I have also done a fair amount of civil instructing at a large school. IMHO the standard there was far below that in the RAF with very little empathy with the students. I became so dissatisfied with what was happening that I decided to get out of it and become an airline pilot with Air Europe. Pity it went bust.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 14:34
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there are good and not so good QFIs
And QHIs

There are two types of instructor....those who think that they are there to "weed out" the weaker students and those who are there to actually train them! I could never really understand those branches with instructors who were very proud of their high "chop rate" - when I was an instructor I felt that my job was to pass people through the course if humanly possible and I considered it a failure for me as well as the student if I lost anyone.
Hear hear. From what (little) I have seen, the number of 'weeder-outers' is thankfully dropping. Not yet extinct though
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 14:34
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I remember a Gnat QFI who carried a nav ruler with him and regularly poked his student in the neck with same....not so huggy fluffy back then.......
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 14:44
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I remember having the news broken to me that I wasn't going to fly anything fast and pointy:

Boss: "Well Dan, you can either be a multi engine pilot, or a smoking hole in a hillside"'.

Me: "Err - I think the former sounds the best option."

Boss: "Good choice!"
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 15:19
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I remember the Gnat QFI with the ruler! My instructors were all very different, but I was lucky and never had one I could not get on with. The most important trait was to be able to pull "firm but fair" from the bag when necessary, thanks Bob Turner and Vic Wightman particularly in that respect. QFIs in the early days of 360 were pretty special, especially Eric Fell.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 15:35
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Mid-sixties, very immature and scared eighteen-year old. My instructor was pretty tough: the bone-done got a regular thumping. I should perhaps have asked for a change of instructor, but I think I was scared to. Didn't enjoy the JP as much as I could have. Having said that, he did teach me to fly and, after a full career as a military and civil pilot, I guess I'm belatedly grateful.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 15:45
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Not a QFI but an extrovert yarpie sqn cdr on Vulcans, retired as an AM, regularly punched his copilot sufficiently hard to give him a dead arm. Right bully but much adored.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 17:16
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thanks Bob Turner
The helicopter Bob Turner later in his career, by any chance?

PN, did anyone ever thump him back?

CG
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