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Getting The Chop

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Getting The Chop

Old 26th Jul 2018, 18:40
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Getting The Chop

Now I appreciate there are at least two meanings to "Getting The Chop". The first and most obvious one is simply getting killed. However I am more interested in the other well known one in he RAF when one was thrown off a particular course. At one time it was thought that around 40% of potential pilots got "chopped" during training. It is these people who I am interested in. I can remember all sorts of threats concerning failure during the 1950's when National Service was mandatory. One in particular was that if you got chopped you ended up serving the reminder of your two years as an AC2 in the cookhouse. I know this didn't happen in fact, as I met a couple of chaps who ended up variously employed in admin training and one as an AEO on Javelins.

So I am sure there must be a few lurking out there on Prune, what happened to you?

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Old 26th Jul 2018, 18:58
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AEO on Javs? I don't think so......
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 19:09
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That's like being Assistant Families Officer at Saxa Vord.

When I went through South Cerney in April 1960 my contemporaries had this threat hanging over them. There being National Service Cardington was on the cards.
Halfway through the course National Service was suspended so the threat evaporated; and so did half the course as they chopped themselves.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 19:26
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Originally Posted by 57mm View Post
AEO on Javs? I don't think so......
Well I did share a drink or 2 with an ex-AEO who said he flew on Javs; the ex-Jav navs and pilots also assembled at the bar didn't seem concerned with their old friend's claims. An aircraft well-before my time but they did have good tales of the Jav, especially the explosions when trying to start the thing.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 19:47
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I thought you meant like when I went to Ely.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 19:58
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RE AC2 in the cookhouse,
Odiham had a pot washer in the airmans mess who was pressurised by his father, ( some colonel in charge of some regiment ) to join the services, he was far from thick but it wasn't for him, so in revolt he joined the RAF in the lowest possible trade, he could which was a Trade Assistant General and he whiled away his time washing pans and was happy at his work... His father however..
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 20:36
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I’m quite sure that more than a few TAGs were caught out by the ‘General’ part of the description when they joined up.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 20:47
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My "contract" which I still have stated if I fluffed my engineering course I would be remustered to TAG , i have been fluffing it ever since
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 20:48
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The AC2 in the cook house threat did not only apply to National Servicemen but Direct Entry bods as well if they had not completed two years service when the chop came down!
AEO there were certainly more than one as I remember coming across around eight trainee AEO's in a Varsity/Valetta that had that had dropped into West Malling with engine trouble in the mid/late 50's.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:03
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I thought you meant as in my trip to Ely.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:04
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Originally Posted by DODGYOLDFART View Post
I can remember all sorts of threats concerning failure during the 1950's when National Service was mandatory. One in particular was that if you got chopped you ended up serving the reminder of your two years as an AC2 in the cookhouse.
One of the best books I've ever read is Chickenhawk by Robert Mason.
It's an autobiography of his experiences as a non-commissioned helicopter pilot, in the US Army, during the Vietnam War.
I remember in the first few chapters he wrote that what kept him motivated during his flight training was knowing they were trained to be infantry soldiers first and helicopter Pilots second. So if he got chopped, he would end up being Infantry in Vietnam.

I highly recommend the book.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:08
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AEOs were the new breed of signaller for the V-bombers.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:38
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Probably a pax trip or a failed trial like the E-3D fighter controller that failed to convert to the F3?
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 22:06
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Having read the excellent The Arnold Scheme about RAF recruits learning to fly in the US, I note that those washed out from pilot training remustered in Canada. While many went on to retrain and became single-winged aircrew of assorted flavours, a number ended up undertaking general duties, including cleaning or kitchen duties, at various RCAF stations until they were demobbed in 1945-46. Now while on the one hand it would have been a safe posting, for those who joined up to serve their country in its time of need and were desperate to do something worthwhile it must have felt like a real kick in the teeth.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 23:18
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I was chopped as an RN midshipman pilot on Wessex HAS 3 but eventually "made it" as the last RAF pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft (in a Sea Harrier). Not sure what that proves, except never give up!!
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 00:31
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I have a friend who was on my nav course at Gaydon in 69. He had been chopped as a pilot (at Linton, I think) and then got chopped from our nav course.

He went on to have a full career as a combat pilot, first in the Israeli Air Force, then the SAAF, the RhodesianAF, the Sri Lankan Air Force, then in various clandestine jobs for the CIA and lots more Flown everything in combat from Hueys to Meteors and Mig 21s

Cant help thinking he was somewhat of a loss to the RAF, but somehow I doubt if he ever regretted the way things turned out
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 03:47
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Not quite the RAF but my late father-in-law [SSGT Edward Potocki] was undergoing pilot training at civilian school in California under the umbrella of the Air Force on Ryan PT-22's. One day the four companies of his Class intake were called to parade [about 150 studs] and after a brief introduction, the officer in charge ordered A and B companies left turn and return to your pilot training. C and D companies right turn and prepare to depart for Aerial Gunnery School!.

He protested to be told that the AAC is your master and you will proceed as ordered or spend the rest of the war on KP! He went on to become a Flight Engineer on B-17's with 483rd BG in Italy only to be severely wounded in 1944 over the target in Northern Italy. Became an engineer with NASA including Apollo 13 event..

To his dying day he resented being "chopped" at flight school...

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Old 27th Jul 2018, 06:45
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Throughout flying training I had a few 'chop rides', Then as an examiner - instructor in later life had to end the careers of a few aspiring aircrew. If they asked, over a beer (or two- remember those days) I would explain, additionally to the debrief, that it was preferable to chop now than attend a funeral later. Most understood and agreed their time had come to gracefully select another path.
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 08:41
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Hubstrasse, indeed once they get over the crushing blow of being chopped, and the loss of any direction in their career, they often have a feeling of relief as that pressure has been removed.

Military​​​ flying training is like an increasingly steep slope. Most can manage the first part then the pace picks up until they reach a wall. Later, with out the pressure, in a different situation they succeed. I knew two navs, one became a helo pilot the other fixed wing although later killed himself.

Look at the number of fast jet navs that cross over to civilian pilot.

Echoing TTNs story, one nav on our course eventually got pilot training and went to Buccaneers before going Civi.
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Old 27th Jul 2018, 09:23
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There was also the "chopper" girlfriend. One girl at a teacher training college in Lincoln, every Towers cadet she went out with got the chop from flying training. Pretty girl as I recall
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