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Elderly fast jet pilots

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Elderly fast jet pilots

Old 25th Jun 2017, 03:23
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Elderly fast jet pilots

...and before anyone gets too insulted, the title is tongue in cheek.
Is there a rough age band by which one starts to become a danger to oneself or others when flying fast jets in terms of reaction times etc?
I note that many VVSOs around the world (Mark Binskin here in Oz, various RAF VVSOs and current CAS) are all ex-fast jet pilots; is there a rough age or career stage when you swap the helmet and mask for a desk if you're going to decide to stay in the forces long term?
Do some VVSOs do primarily administrative and leadership roles, but remain current by flying regular sorties?

EDIT: Well there you go - would have never imagined this. Good on him. Imagine the muscle memory Phil must have after 40 years on jets...
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 06:32
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Hearing and eye sight does it for a lot of contenders.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 11:16
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I think I'm right in saying that during WW2 you were regarded as "past it" as a fighter pilot by the time you were 30!
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 11:34
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Tankert - Indeed. Assuming of course that you were still alive at age 30!

Last edited by Green Flash; 25th Jun 2017 at 13:37.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 13:06
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Air Chief Marshal Sir George Augustus "Gus" Walker, in 1958 at the age of 46, flew a Hunter F6 from Strubby when Commandant of the Empire Flying College at Manby.

He had a prostheses (for his missing R.forearm) specially adapted for the purpose.
 
Old 25th Jun 2017, 13:10
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IIRC, Arthur Vine was an F4 QFI at a ripe old age.....
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 13:41
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The 'claim to fame' in this family was that my father was Station QFI / Master Green on Hunter T7 based at Gutersloh at the tender age of 43. He was referred to as Pop whilst in the air and David ( or Sir) to his face. His rank from the mid fifties until he retired in 1968 was Master Pilot.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 13:52
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Danny, when he was appointed AOC No 1 Group he flew a Meteor Mk8. I strapped him in a few times, when he visited RAF Scampton.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 17:11
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Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post
Air Chief Marshal Sir George Augustus "Gus" Walker, in 1958 at the age of 46, flew a Hunter F6 from Strubby when Commandant of the Empire Flying College at Manby.

He had a prostheses (for his missing R.forearm) specially adapted for the purpose.
I recall him flying a Meteor F? as his transport for a staff visit to Church Fenton in 63 or 64.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 17:13
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EDIT: Well there you go - would have never imagined this. Good on him. Imagine the muscle memory Phil must have after 40 years on jets...[/QUOTE]

From the article

“For training purposes we normally pull about 5G but the aircrafts are capable of pulling eight. That’s eight times your body weight. Your head weighs about 15-18kg so multiply that by eight – it’s a pretty impressive thing.

So that's why I never made it to FJs - my head simply wasn't heavy enough!
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 18:21
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Cough: Dave Southwood……..
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 18:31
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I believe the RCAF has a Reservist who is current on the CF 18 in a front line squadron and is in his Fifties
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 18:51
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In his fifties? Dave Southwood (62) and Phil Frawley (61) would doubtless call him 'Junior', Big Pistons Forever.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 19:06
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My last trip in a Tonka was at the ripe old age of 49, indeed I was on ops in Afghanistan on my 49th birthday. But I was far from the oldest to fly her, with some recently finished in their fifties. There may even still be some old fogies flying.


I'm not convinced quick reflexes or reactions are ever the secret to flying a FJ, more like common sense and an ability to deal calmly with rapidly changing scenarios. But that's not as funny as some of the other contributions.
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 19:09
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If the head weighed 15-18kg, no matter how good the elderly pilot was, he'd never be able to get a bone-dome on, let alone close the cockpit canopy! He'd look like ET - although, come to think of it, I have met the odd pilot who did look just like ET. Try about 5kg......
OB
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Old 25th Jun 2017, 20:02
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Back in the War, there were a number of 'elderly' aircrew who'd flown in the previous conflict.

Group Captain Stanley Vincent was the only RFC/RAF pilot to shoot down enemy aircraft in both world wars. Vincent was station commander of RAF Northolt during the Battle of Britain (aged 43), and claimed seven unconfirmed kills. After the war he became the 'father' of the BBMF.

Colonel Marcel Émile Haegelen was a World War I French flying ace credited with 22 victories in the Great War. Mobilised as fighter pilot at the beginning of World War II, he gained his 23rd victory on 14 June 1940 while flying a Curtiss H 75.

Theodor "Theo" Osterkamp was a German fighter ace scoring 32 victories in World War I. He led Jagdgeschwader 51 through the Battle of Britain (until replaced by Werner Mölders on 23 July) and claimed a further 6 victories. He was 48 years old during the Battle.

Oberst Harry von Bülow-Bothkamp scored six victories in World War I, he became a Luftwaffe ace in World War II, leading Commodore of Jagdgeschwader 2 and scoring 12 additional victories. He was 43 years old during the Battle.

Oberstleutnant Erich Mix trained as a fighter pilot and posted to Jagdstaffel 54, where, as an Unteroffizer from June 1918 until the end of the war, he scored three aerial victories (and one unconfirmed balloon). He commanded III./JG 2 in March 1940 and claimed eight (potentially 13) aerial victories before becoming one of the older, WWI era commanders dismissed by Göring in favour of younger, up-and-coming aces in September 1940.
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Old 26th Jun 2017, 08:51
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When I was a young liney at TTTE there was a Sqn Ldr Called Gordon Reikie (sic?) (pronounced reekie) He seemed ancient probably late 50s ? He used to terrorise the Italian students - I saw one almost in tears whilst strapping in on one occasion.
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Old 26th Jun 2017, 09:06
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"Some of our worst losses occurred through defective leadership on the part of a unit commander, who might lead his pilots into a trap or be caught while climbing by an enemy formation approaching out of the sun. During periods of intense activity promotions to the command of fighter squadrons should be made on the recommendation of Group Commanders from amongst Flight Commanders experienced in the methods of the moment. If and when it is necessary to post a Squadron Leader (however gallant and experienced) from outside the Command, he should humbly start as an ordinary member of the formation until he has gained experience. Only exceptionally should officers over 26 years of age be posted to command Fighter squadrons."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh C. T. Dowding. Despatch submitted to the Secretary of State for Air on August 20th, 1941.

My italics. In this case it seems Dowding recognised that age-gained experience can be detrimental; a little on-the-job retraining was required and an age limit recommended to stop the influx of older, stuffy officers leading squadrons.
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Old 26th Jun 2017, 11:51
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Originally Posted by Jackonicko View Post
Back in the War, there were a number of 'elderly' aircrew who'd flown in the previous conflict.

Group Captain Stanley Vincent was the only RFC/RAF pilot to shoot down enemy aircraft in both world wars. Vincent was station commander of RAF Northolt during the Battle of Britain (aged 43), and claimed seven unconfirmed kills. After the war he became the 'father' of the BBMF.

Colonel Marcel Émile Haegelen was a World War I French flying ace credited with 22 victories in the Great War. Mobilised as fighter pilot at the beginning of World War II, he gained his 23rd victory on 14 June 1940 while flying a Curtiss H 75.

Theodor "Theo" Osterkamp was a German fighter ace scoring 32 victories in World War I. He led Jagdgeschwader 51 through the Battle of Britain (until replaced by Werner Mölders on 23 July) and claimed a further 6 victories. He was 48 years old during the Battle.

Oberst Harry von Bülow-Bothkamp scored six victories in World War I, he became a Luftwaffe ace in World War II, leading Commodore of Jagdgeschwader 2 and scoring 12 additional victories. He was 43 years old during the Battle.

Oberstleutnant Erich Mix trained as a fighter pilot and posted to Jagdstaffel 54, where, as an Unteroffizer from June 1918 until the end of the war, he scored three aerial victories (and one unconfirmed balloon). He commanded III./JG 2 in March 1940 and claimed eight (potentially 13) aerial victories before becoming one of the older, WWI era commanders dismissed by Göring in favour of younger, up-and-coming aces in September 1940.
And didn't Gerhard Barkhorn (301 WW2 victories) and Gunther Rall (275 WW2 victories) maintain their F-104 currency on into the 1970's despite their, by then, high rank....??
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Old 26th Jun 2017, 14:16
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Had the pleasure to work with Gordon Reekie and Chris Heames at TTTE, I think Chris is still flying the Hunter at St Athan.
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