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Entitlement to wear RAF 'wings'

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Entitlement to wear RAF 'wings'

Old 14th Nov 2023, 17:33
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I was doing Aircrew Selection at Hornchurch in late 1960 or early '61 and I saw an SAC with 'Wings'. I couldn't ask him as he was riding a bike.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 17:58
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Originally Posted by VX275
This chap never soloed but no one was brave enough to tell him he couldn't wear the wings.
I wasnít aware of this:

On 1 April 1943, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the creation of the RAF, the Air Council with the Kingís approval awarded honorary wings (the flying badge of the Royal Air Force) to the Prime Minister.
So there is a precedent.

​​​​​​​YS
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 18:00
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My father was in the Royal Observer Corps and wore wings. I was giving a presentation to his Group on my war role as a Military Scientific Adviser and what I did with the information they supplied, At the end, I mentioned Dad was hiding at the back and, tongue in cheek, suggested that he might want to buy me a drink as he was incorrectly dressed since we was wearing wings with a Queen's Crown and his should have had a King's Crown. I got away with it, in fact I think he might have been a bit proud of his lad, who was a member of the horfficer class, whereas he was of the generation where you could be a pilot without having rings on your sleeve.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 18:36
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Originally Posted by Yellow Sun
I wasnít aware of this:



So there is a precedent.

YS
Not sure the owner of a wing walking display team is in the same league as Churchill but, I guess, technically maybe there is precedent. If thatís what has happened or, as Teetering has alluded to, it may be an overzealous order at the tailors.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 19:04
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Originally Posted by VX275
This chap never soloed but no one was brave enough to tell him he couldn't wear the wings.
Not so. In March 1943, the RAF was getting ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary on 1 April of that year. Given Churchill’s key role in the early development of military aviation in the UK — not to mention his other noteworthy contributions to Britain’s survival — and knowing of his earlier valiant efforts to learn to fly, the Air Ministry proposed that he should be awarded honorary pilot’s wings to go with his rank of honorary air commodore. King George VI approved of this decision, and so Churchill was informed that as of 1 April 1943, he was being given the right to wear wings on his uniform, as a special honour.He wrote a letter of thanks to the Air Ministry:

I take it as a high compliment that the Air Council should wish to give one of their honorary air commodores his honorary wings.

At this moment we may say without vanity that the Royal Air Force—taken for all in all—is “Second to None.” At this moment it is the spearpoint of the British offensive against the proud and cruel enemy who boasted that he would “erase” the cities of our native land, and hoped to lay all the lands under his toll and thrall. As the world conflict deepens, the war future of the Royal Air Force glows with a still brighter and fiercer light.

I am honoured to be accorded a place, albeit out of kindness, in that comradeship of the air which guards the life of our island and carries doom to tyrants, whether they flaunt themselves or burrow deep.
From that point on, Churchill wore his wings. It still didn’t mean he was allowed to fly RAF aircraft, though he was occasionally permitted to take the controls while in flight.

It was also reported in many newspapers in 1943 at the time. Here is the New York Times story:
https://www.nytimes.com/1943/04/02/a...s-coveted.html
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 19:16
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Post 21 by NRU74. The man in question was a wartime pilot and he left the RAF but reenlisted in a ground trade - perfectly entitled to the flying badge.

In the years up to about 1970, there were a great many 'other ranks', entitled to wear the flying badge but sadly they are no longer around.

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Old 14th Nov 2023, 19:22
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Old Duffer - Sorry - I wasn't criticising in any way !
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 20:02
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Originally Posted by meleagertoo
I rather doubt that.
"Wings" are awarded for the successful completion of the designated military flying course. Once awarded they cannot be removed, and certainly not for failure to qualify as "combat ready" (which, after all, would be hard for a creamie or transport pilot). One assumes you meant "operational", but even so - have wings keep wings.
No one took my wings away when I was chopped on (RN) AFT - which is the course before OFT. Nor could they.
And the CAA recognised them as qualification for a CPL to boot. Without them there would have been little or no credit towards a CPL at all.
Unless the regulations have changed since I left the RAF (they might have, it was almost thirty years ago), the pilot flying badge can, or could, most definitely be taken away after being awarded by the RAF.

My own "Wings" presentation (at RAF Shawbury, rotary wing AFTS, late 1970s) coincided with a Royal Visit. Teeteringhead may well recall this because he was a Wessex QHI there at the time.
Because there were only two of us who were to be awarded with the flying badge (the rest were re-roles and already had theirs), members of the previous course were called back to be re-presented by the said Royal.

Official signals were passed to said officers, telling them to return to Shawbury on said date, minus their recently sewn on wings, but with a "Velcro" patch sewn on their No1 uniform, to receive a new set. Velcro was fairly new back then. The obvious question in reply was - which half of the Velcro? A certain mischievous course member (not me) decided to get in and have fun with this and initiated a series of "spoof" signals, each contradicting the previous one, causing much confusion further down the line. On the Royal day, with hours to go, a certain pilot (who I knew from BFTS) turned up with the incorrect half of the Velcro sewn on his chest. He had to be sent off rather rapidly to get this fixed, to his great annoyance. Thankfully, said presentation went ahead without a hitch and his wings didn't fall off on the day. However, maybe it was a bad omen....

Immediately after my graduation I was posted to the Puma OCU. My predecessor on that course was said pilot with the "wrong" Velcro. Unfortunately, although he passed the Puma course, he didn't make it on the Squadron. He was grounded and subsequently lost the right to wear the wings. He re-roled and did very well elsewhere in a ground branch. I met him a few times afterwards and he definitely didn't wear a flying badge.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 21:03
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I seem to remember (a long time ago!), that once your "Wings" were awarded they remained provisional, until you had completed six months satisfactory operational service. Open to correction!
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 21:30
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​​​​​​​An officer, on ceasing to be employed on flying duties, and an airman on being remustered to a ground trade, unless ordered otherwise, may elect to wear any of the badges for which he has been previously qualified.
From my earlier post
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 22:00
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Originally Posted by Bill Macgillivray
I seem to remember (a long time ago!), that once your "Wings" were awarded they remained provisional, until you had completed six months satisfactory operational service. Open to correction!
Bill
Not sure on the other services but this is the rule for the Army. RN slightly different as they award Wings at the end of OCU(?)
Removal of the Army Flying Badge (Wings).
Provisional Wings are awarded on completion of FT and will remain provisional until successful completion of an initial CTT. On completion of CTT personnel will be awarded AAC Pilot status, with Wings awarded permanently. Personnel who fail to complete a CTT on an AAC current platform will have their Wings removed and will not be authorised to wear them on Service uniform until CTT (as stated above) has been achieved. If at any time the holder is removed permanently from flying or flying related duty for breaches of flying discipline or for lack of technical ability, reporting officers are to make specific recommendations within the AIS in order to action premature termination.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 22:07
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The award of a Pilotís flying badge is provisional until confirmed in accordance with current rules. When I was awarded my badge it was 6 months on an operational Sqn or, for creamies award of a B1.

Currently I believe it is CR (or maybe (LCR) and B1 for creamies.

The only exception I know of is where an individual is medically downgraded, following an accident say, before they can confirm the award. This is discretionary on a case by case basis.
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 02:00
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Originally Posted by Bill Macgillivray
I seem to remember (a long time ago!), that once your "Wings" were awarded they remained provisional, until you had completed six months satisfactory operational service. Open to correction!
Bill
In my time in the RAN wings were confirmed upon the completion of an OFS, I never did an OFS and hence completed my SL time with provisional wings, that's despite having combat time and receiving a decoration courtesy of Her Majesty and two courtesy of the US. The only OFS's on offer were via Wessex, Tracker or A-4. Things fall through cracks.
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 07:04
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An officer with whom I served, was one of a group of pilots who, having completed their training, were told they would not continue as aircrew and were deprived their flying badge. Some years later, the officer was on the staff of someone quite high and influential and he took up the case for those deprived through no fault of their own but were 'victims' of the system. A dispensation was obtained because of the particular circumstances and these officers were allowed to wear the badge, although they did not return to flying duties.

In another case, a Rhodesian who joined the RAF after the country became Zimbabwe, was permitted to wear the RAF badge because during his Rhodesian service he had been graded by RAF 'trappers' who visited his squadron (I think) in Aden.

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Old 15th Nov 2023, 09:07
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Originally Posted by Old-Duffer
An officer with whom I served, was one of a group of pilots who, having completed their training, were told they would not continue as aircrew and were deprived their flying badge. Some years later, the officer was on the staff of someone quite high and influential and he took up the case for those deprived through no fault of their own but were 'victims' of the system. A dispensation was obtained because of the particular circumstances and these officers were allowed to wear the badge, although they did not return to flying duties.
I heard of cases where training was terminated prior to the award of 'wings' as the war was ending hence the pilots were not needed.
I believe they were subsequently awarded a slightly different pattern of wings; may have been something to do with the Aircrew Association'?
I saw several of these wings holders in the Air Cadet Gliding movement and no, they weren't 'Glider Pilots' wings (of which I am enititled to wear the basic 'G1' badge without a crown) which were derived from the 'Glider Pilots Regiment' wings.
ADDENDUM
Looking at my logbooks, on 17 Sep 1993 I flew 3 members of the Aircrew Association in a Cyclone AX3 at Halton; they told me about their flying training and how/why it had been curtailed but were in civvies so no badge visible.

Last edited by chevvron; 15th Nov 2023 at 09:46.
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 10:01
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In 1965 at Manby we had an SAC (Trade Assistant General) in the Guardroom with wings and a cluster of war medals. Apparently he left the RAF after the war, didn't adapt to civvy life and rejoined as an airman. Occasionally encountered him when doing Orderly Officer duties.
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 11:53
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Originally Posted by MPN11
In 1965 at Manby we had an SAC (Trade Assistant General) in the Guardroom with wings and a cluster of war medals. Apparently he left the RAF after the war, didn't adapt to civvy life and rejoined as an airman. Occasionally encountered him when doing Orderly Officer duties.
In 1956 [about] there was an airman at RAF Uxbridge [my memory is vague but not useless] who was said to be a wartime VC. I think I was too ignorant to examine rank, flying badge [if any] and medal ribbons, so cannot swear to it, but he did indeed have a great deal of salad spread across his chest and was always pointed out to the newbies. If he had been army he would certainly have been given rank as a corporal. Nice story but I could not stand in the witness box after 67 years.
RAF Uxbridge was home [again memory strains] to the Regiment and the Central Band, also a Main Met. Office. A bit short of aircraft!

As an aside I missed National Service, to my honest regret .......... Met assistants were automatically traded as Met assistants, but my medical history rendered me a bad bet. I was genuinely p$ssed off, being RAF-mad.

No doubt this post will deleted, as most of mine are these days. Be quick or you will miss these enthralling anecdotes.
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 12:45
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In 1968 when I was a Flt Cdt at RAFC, Cranwell North aerodrome was used for Chipmunk flying. It had a small ATC cabin which was manned by a couple of rather elderly gents - one of whom sported the Path Finder Force badge as well as his flying badge and medals. He was also kindly spoken towards cadets, unlike many at the College!
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 13:52
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One of the strangest I recall was a pilot who left, studied appropriately and was then ordained in the C of E. A few years after that he rejoined as a Padre - and of course wore his wings! Looked very odd.......
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Old 15th Nov 2023, 14:35
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Originally Posted by teeteringhead
One of the strangest I recall was a pilot who left, studied appropriately and was then ordained in the C of E. A few years after that he rejoined as a Padre - and of course wore his wings! Looked very odd.......
That's why chaplains are called Sky Pilots!

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