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National Service Pilots

Old 8th Oct 2019, 20:30
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National Service Pilots

Following my earlier appeal (August) I would like to hear from any National Service Aircrew (or pilots) who served in the RAF during the late 40's and early 50's for a series of articles I'm writing for an on-line journal.I had one reply from a Fleet Air Arm pilot (a most excellent response1).
However, in order for me to understand the RAF training methods (being ex-N.S. Royal Signals), I need to know where Basic Training was done; how Aircrew were selected: where Flight training took place and, if an N.S. man was selected as a Pilot Officer, where that took place...
I need all the help I can get...!
Thank you.
RogerRB
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Old 8th Oct 2019, 23:11
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If only you'd asked that question 12 years ago :-

https://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-299505.html
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Old 9th Oct 2019, 07:37
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I was on the pilots course with I think the last National Service pilot starting in late 1957.Selection was at the ASC with the other candidates. Basic training at South Cerney, Basic flying training started at Feltwell, then moved to Syerston when Feltwell closed. I seem to remember that he did not proceed to Advanced Training with us when the National Service scheme closed down.
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Old 10th Oct 2019, 17:47
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Thank you rotorfossil.
What do the initials ASC refer to?
Basic Training at South Cerney- did this cover Drills: Weapon training etc?
Basic Flight training- Chipmunks; Harvards?
I need all the help I can get....
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 00:45
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ASC - Aircrew Selection Centre - later O (Officer and) ASC for many years at Biggin Hill, but not sure where in the period you are talking about.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:01
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Memory has failed where ASC was situated except it was on an inactive airfield northeast of London. Basic training at South Cerney involved a lot of barrack square drill, some weapon trading with rifles and Bren gun. A lot of work in the gym and running around the countryside to improve fitness. Classroom work introduced service procedures, Air Force Law and gereral education subjects and tests on leadership.
The basic flying training was on the Piston Provost, Alvin Leonides radial engine with a cartridge starter that produced a lot of black smoke. My abiding memory is a cockpit that smelled strongly of de icing fluid and Avgas. At the time, basic flying trading was also happening at Ternhill.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:41
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I think ASC was at Hornchurch.

We have a (late) friend who trained on the Percival Prentice, then Harvards and went on to fly Meteors. I should be able to get access to his log book next week and will check locations and units.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:55
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Memory has failed where ASC was situated except it was on an inactive airfield northeast of London.
Hornchurch in the mid fifties.

Chugalug2s link answers most of your queries
If only you'd asked that question 12 years ago :-
https://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-299505.html
Reading that link I was saddened that the posters I knew are no longer with us and surprised that I had contributed and even written some sense,
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 11:01
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ASC definitely Hornchurch at least from 1953 to 1958. However basic training was a bit mixed with some doing eight weeks square bashing at various places Bridgnorth, Padgate and Hednesford come to mind. Followed by either twelve weeks on the Isle of Man at Jurby if you were selected for officer training. Some went to Kirton Lindsey for basic training and for pilots on to 6 FTS at Ternhill. Those selected as NCO aircrew went elsewhere but I cannot remember where. A few direct entry chaps got lucky and were still sent to Canada to do their pilot training, this may have included some National Service chaps.

Last edited by DODGYOLDFART; 11th Oct 2019 at 13:50.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 13:22
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Maybe worth contacting Lord (Norman) Tebbitt who i believe may have been an NS RAF pilot.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 13:55
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Freddie Forsyth author of Day of the Jackal and regular contributor to the Daily Express was I believe a National Service pilot and probably one of the last!
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 14:38
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My late brother was a National Service pilot, then stayed in on a regular commission until age 38. He had done 1 year as a UAS student before starting NS. He went first, about October 1955, to Kirton in Lindsey for about 3-4 months for the ITS course (initial officer training), and at the end of that he was commissioned as Acting Pilot Officer. He was then among a group that went to Canada on the NATO pilot training scheme; others on his course included Italians, Belgians, Danes, and perhaps others. They did about 9 months on the Harvard at Penhold, Alberta, followed by 6 months on the T-33A at Gimli, Manitoba. He was fairly unimpressed by the standard of training; all his RAF contemporaries with no previous flying experience failed the Harvard course.

They crossed the Atlantic by sea; just before coming home, they learned of the Sandys Defence White Paper and the huge imminent changes it brought.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 17:42
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ASC was still at Hornchurch at the beginning of 1960. South Cerney was No.1 ITS (Initial Training School) when I got there on 08.08.60. No flying - just square bashing.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 18:37
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The ITS moved from Kirton in Lindsey to South Cerney just before I joined in October ‘57
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 08:35
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Maybe worth contacting Lord (Norman) Tebbitt who i believe may have been an NS RAF pilot.
He was - flew Meteors; as did Freddy Forsyth (and just about everybody in those days I think)
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 10:11
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Lord Tebbitt was lucky to survive a bad accident at Waterbeach when his Meteor 8 failed to unstick off the runway during an exercise in 1954. Not sure if he was still NS or had joined the auxiliaries by that time. So you may get a good story or two out of him!
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 12:19
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So you may get a good story or two out of him!
You certainly do!

I had the delight of sitting next to him at a dinner in London. When he discovered I was a pilot, his reaction was roughly:

"Great, we can talk about aeroplanes and not politics!"
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 12:53
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BEACH NEWS Journal of Waterbeach Community Association Autumn 2011 No.228.
It was intriguing to learn that Norman Tebbit (Lord Tebbit) whilst visiting Waterbeach as an auxiliary air force pilot, horrifically crashed on takeoff, skidded across the Car Dyke and the A10, and nearly burned to death in the field opposite.
I saw the scene a day or two later.
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Old 13th Oct 2019, 14:51
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I was 'selected' at Hornchurch and Daedalus House. South Cerney I visited frequently when a RCT TA Movements Officer and it was the Air Mounting Centre. Our RCT(V) HQ was Prince William of Gloucester barracks, formerly RAF Spitalgate. The Colonel was not impressed when he asked if I had visited in my RAF days and I admitted "Over the wire when it was the WRAF Training Centre"
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Old 14th Oct 2019, 10:25
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The Aircrew Selection Centre was at RAF Hornchurch until 1962, when it was merged with the Officer Selection Centre at RAF Uxbridge, and relocated to RAF Biggin Hill, that had been vacated by the Auxiliary squadrons, as the OASC. ITS moved from Kirton in Lindsey to South Cerney in 1957, was rebadged as the Aircrew Officer Training School and later had the Primary Flying Squadron with Chipmunks added before the whole lot relocated to RAF Church Fenton in 1968.
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