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Dual flying qualification - pilot/navigator

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Dual flying qualification - pilot/navigator

Old 9th Feb 2019, 11:40
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Dual flying qualification - pilot/navigator

I was reading the obituary of Ward Thomas, founder of Yorkshire Television, and it said that he trained as a pilot and navigator in South Africa, before being posted to 100 Squadron as a Lancaster pilot and then as a navigator on 550 Squadron. There is a photograph of Thomas with his crew on 550 where he is clearly wearing a nav brevet. The obituary goes on to say that he subsequently flew as a pilot with Swissair until 1953.

My question is - was there any system of "dual training" where you could come out with both qualifications? It seems unlikely to me, I am more inclined to think that the obit writer has got it wrong and that he was "remustered" as a nav after his time on 100, or perhaps he was always a nav. Indeed he may well have flown as a navigator with Swissair, not as a pilot as the writer assumed.

Anybody have any info on this?

Last edited by Tankertrashnav; 9th Feb 2019 at 18:19.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 14:41
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TTN,

Ward Thomas, Gwyn Edward "Ward" Thomas, was certainly on the Bowen-Bravery crew of 550 Sqn. and is definitely shown as the Nav. 550 Sqn. was formed out of 100 Sqn. at Waltham in November 1943 so it is most likely that he was part of the same crew on 100 and thus probably a Nav as well. On the formation of 550 the crew photograph shows him as a Flt Sgt which would fit after a year or so on 100. 100 Sqn was re-formed at Waltham in December 1942 out of the same Sqn that was in Singapore and then Australia becoming 100 Sqn RAAF. After the war he became a pilot with Swissair which leads to the puzzle did he first qualify as a pilot. I certainly know of a gentleman near here who qualified as a pilot about that time but when he arrived back in the UK was told that they had enough pilots and he became a Rear Gunner on IX Sqn. so the same may have happened to your man.

ACW
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 15:00
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There several Royal Navy Aviators who are trained as both Observers and as Pilots. They are describef officially as seaman officers of the X(F) specialisation rather than X(O) or X(P). Don't know if there are any still serving though.

N
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 15:38
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Aircrew multi-tasking

I recall being told by a South African Air Force officer on exchange (way back in 1950) that SAAF pilots were multi-taskers, having been trained also as navigators and radio operators; I have no reason to believe I was being conned!

However when on exchange to the RAF they were required only to act as pilot or navigator, WOPs not being included in the exchange scheme.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 15:44
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Without even thinking too deeply about it, I know of 2 navs, an AEO and a Cpl Armourer that spring to mind who went on to have long and successful careers as airline captains.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 17:06
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TTN, I am with you and think there is a mistake somewhere. His service number indicates he joined up around September 1941. He arrived as a Navigator on 550 from 1667 HCU on 18.12.43 and was posted out on 9.7.44 to 11 Base,partof 1 Groups training organisation. I am assuming he trained intially as a pilot and then remustered as a Navigator. The period of just over 2 years to an operational squadron would seem about right if he had to change trades as a Navigator, not knowing of course if and when he was 'washed out'. Not sure where 100 squadron comes in. If after 6 months rest at 11 Base he may have gone back on ops with 100? Or have been a 'spare bod', who may have filled in as when needed in 1 Group squadrons. Post war Swiss Air, flew DC4s across the Atlantic and they carried a navigator. There is a story on the net of a chap who joined in July 41, went for pilot training in the US and was found to be 'unsuitable' and was shipped to Canada to be a nav. He made it to an operational squadron in June 43.

Last edited by rolling20; 9th Feb 2019 at 17:47.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 18:22
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Thanks for the help so far. As an aside I remember a chap on the staff of the sea survival school at Mount Batten (Simon something or other?) whose party trick was to appear wearing pilots' wings on day one and as a nav on day two. In his case I believe he had been a nav and had managed to retrain as a pilot, and was thus entitled to wear either flying badge.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 18:41
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Originally Posted by JW411 View Post
Without even thinking too deeply about it, I know of 2 navs, an AEO and a Cpl Armourer that spring to mind who went on to have long and successful careers as airline captains.
JW. Begs the question which of the Navs provided reedin and which provided rytin skills for the plumber? �� Or was it the other way round?��

Add the recently retired 777 captain who was a Cpl electronics (I think) out in Germany with me.

����






Last edited by oldmansquipper; 9th Feb 2019 at 18:44. Reason: I'm bored.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 18:47
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Originally Posted by Tankertrashnav View Post
Thanks for the help so far. As an aside I remember a chap on the staff of the sea survival school at Mount Batten (Simon something or other?) whose party trick was to appear wearing pilots' wings on day one and as a nav on day two. In his case I believe he had been a nav and had managed to retrain as a pilot, and was thus entitled to wear either flying badge.
As a further aside, I know of at least 2 pilots who before receiving their 'wings' were RW Nav / LM respectively. They wore their wings on a daily basis when on Sqn, but had their original brevet sewn under the lapel of their No 1s and 5s as a reminder.

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Old 9th Feb 2019, 19:35
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On a slight thread drift, a friend of mine was an RAF Dental Officer who was offered aircrew training and became a rotary pilot.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 19:51
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Originally Posted by wub View Post
On a slight thread drift, a friend of mine was an RAF Dental Officer who was offered aircrew training and became a rotary pilot.
.....and there was a tanker navigator who became a RAF Dental Officer.

YS
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 20:16
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Isn't every single seater is a pilot/navigator ��
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 20:58
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Smile

I’ve known one or two navs who’ve made decent pilots after crossing over. But mostly, they were streamed as ‘not pilots’ for good reason!

I’ll get my coat.....
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 21:03
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Before WW2, the pilot was responsible for everything to do with the aircraft and the observer "observed". At the beginning of WW2, a directive from Bomber Command stated that each bomber had to carry two pilots and two WOps in case the primary was incapacitated. On 4 seat aircraft, such as the Hampden therefore, the observer role was carried out by a junior pilot who gained experience from the aircraft nose before being given his own crew. Indeed, breaches in flying discipline by pilots often led to a spell as observer for the unfortunate miscreant. One pilot at Waddington was peeved when he had to air test his Hampden rather than go to the outdoor swimming pool in Lincoln with the rest of his Squadron. He therefore treated the pool to a very low flypast which was unfortunate because the chap on the diving board who had to jump in to avoid the Hampden happened to be his Squadron Commander. The result was a month restricted to flying as observer. Shortly after, the pilot (Dave Romans) was on a raid when he felt the aircraft begin to reach the stall and dive. He made his way through the tunnel under the pilot to find his pilot slumped unconscious over the controls. Unable to move him, Romans collapsed the back of the pilots' seat and sat on the prone body of the pilot to bring the Hampden back under control. The wireless operator eventually noticed what was happening and pulled the pilot from under Romans allowing him to safely bring the aircraft back to Waddington. Unfortunately, the pilot later died - he had been hit by a piece of flak shrapnel that had punctured his skull, just behind his ear. Dave Romans was awarded an immediate DFC - and got his captaincy back. The two pilot rule was later rescinded as there were insufficient pilots being trained to cover losses of two per aircraft.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 21:48
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Mike Bush was a Rhodesian I think who qualified as a nav but managed to get a pilot slot. Qualified as a pilot flying Buccs and finally retired to fly Civvie. I remember seeing his photo in a paper once.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 22:09
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I believe there was more than one medical doctor with wings but have no examples. One of my sons-in-law qualified as a doctor, did his PPL, but decided to go on to be a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, with income roughly that of an air commodore with power to add.
Good decision.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 23:24
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I know at least a dozen RAAF Navs that went onto being RAAF pilots....
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 00:17
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I started as an AEOp on Shacks in Ballykelly,and AEOp Dryman in Malta - and in civilian life as a Pilot on a wide range of twin turbines followed by B747.100 to 400 series and B737,B757 and B767 (all in Maersk Air and British Airways .and as a TRE and IRE ( Fixed Wing) and at the same time. Then in the VR as Dryman AEOp from 1986 until 1994 at Kinloss,and finally retiring from flying in 2002. As an aside I ran a weather information system from 1996 until 2016 in Formula 1 For McLaren, Jordan, and finally Renault unti 2016,
Le Mans Series and DTM, plus 5 years at the Lawn Tennis at wimbledon, and another five years at the Opera in Verona. It was a busy life with five radar rigs circulating Europe and three sets following F1 around the world in containers.As an aside I was on the Nimrod MK3 AEW as test team on the Comet XV626 for a couple of years as Marconi Eliott Avionic Systems Staff down the back end.. And I installed a radar system on a flower farm in Tarlton, near Johannesberg in South Africa. I did all my licences at CSE Oxford .
and paid for them myself by part time work (non flying)
After finishing with the Nimrod and Shackleton fleet, the only Navigator was on the AEW Comet (Reg Castle?) or the occasional pax who wanted to see how he had been replaced on the Boeings.
As and aside my favorite opera was Nabucco and I had a beautiful villa beside Lake Garda while doing the approximate four months of Opera each year.
Oh, and I forgot - I ferryed new aeroplanes for De Havilland Canada out of Downsview, Toronto
I'm 71 now and wouldn't have missed a single thing.
.

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Old 10th Feb 2019, 00:26
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Originally Posted by wub View Post
On a slight thread drift, a friend of mine was an RAF Dental Officer who was offered aircrew training and became a rotary pilot.
Perhaps he did a bad root canal for the C.O.?
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 00:47
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Originally Posted by wub View Post
On a slight thread drift, a friend of mine was an RAF Dental Officer who was offered aircrew training and became a rotary pilot.
The interesting part is he/she will have done SERE not main course at Cranwell, did he/she have to go back through IOT and start from the beginning?
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