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Thread: How long did it take to qualify as a pilot?

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    Default How long did it take to qualify as a pilot?

    I have a gentleman who enlisted in September 1941 at Oxford, aged 21; I'm reasonably confident from his age and place of enlistment that his call-up had been delayed until he completed his university degree. My next reference to him comes two years later in November 1943 when he joins 521 Squadron at Docking as a Sergeant flying Gladiators (making met ascents).

    I'm assuming he would have completed basic RAF training before being selected for aircrew training, but how long would both periods (basic, then aircrew training) have lasted in total? I'm trying to estimate if the 521 posting was likely to have been his first tour after qualifying as a pilot, or if he had been attached to another unit previously or perhaps been employed in a ground role between completing basic training and starting flying training.

    I think he must have been a more than competent pilot as a fortnight after joining 521 the propeller and reduction gear flew off his Gladiator at 18000 ft and, after the wind had carried the powerless plane across the Wash, he crash-landed, in the dark, without injury at Old Leake (northeast of Boston).

    Unfortunately the ORB did not record personnel movements at this time.

    I've tried Googling but have been unable to find a definitive answer.

    Advice/views would be appreciated.

    Brian

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    Once you remove the deferred service period.

    Roughly 1 yesr from entry to arrival at OTU/P(AFU) then around 6 months to appear at operational unit.

    As with everything early/late war period different timescale.

    Bomber command had more stages between entry at OTU and operational squadron than other commands hence a longer training period.

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    Thank you Ross. I think from that I'd be reasonably safe in assuming 521 Sqn was probably his first operational posting.

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    Certainly on Gladiators.

    McKay is listed on the F1180 as 3hs night solo on type and 16 hrs total on type.

    192 hrs solo on all types, 9.2 hrs night.

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    Thanks for the additional info Ross, that actually helps enormously.

    Brian

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    Default Qualify as a pilot

    Hello Brian,

    Maybe a simple answer but : an airman qualify as a pilot the day he received his "Wings"
    after it is training in his speciality.

    Best regards

    René

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    Hi Brian,
    My father (RCAF) enlisted June 1941 in Saskatoon and received his wings March 1942. Then travel to Halifax and three weeks waiting for a ship (some aircrew waited for a couple of months). Once arriving at the PRC in Bournemouth another two months waiting for a spot to open up at an AFU. After AFU off to Harrogate, a pilot holding area, waiting for posting to an OTU for crewing up and crew training. Point is there could be many delays in the training process which could vary substantially for each airmen. I once spoke to a pilot that was posted to Harrogate twice during training. For my Dad from enlistment (June 1941) to squadron posting (Feb 1943) the process, delays and all, was about 21 months. He was with Coastal Command flying a Hampden medium bomber so did not take the additional training required for heavy bombers.

    Cheers
    Rodger
    In remembrance of the crew of Halifax HR732
    51 Squadron Snaith - All LWT Leipzig 4 December 1943

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    Thank you René and Rodger - you've both made me realise the thread title is not really correct, perhaps it would have been better written as "How long did it take to qualify as an OPERATIONAL pilot".

    I take your point, Rodger, about the progression from one course to the next not being seamless, but I've no information at all as to how he progressed from initial training to 521 Squadron hence my rather vague query.

    That said 192 hours total in the previous six months (or 35 hours/month) doesn't, to a non-aviator, seem a great deal of flying - wonder what he was doing. (The last is just me thinking aloud.)

    Brian

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    Default Qualify as pilot

    Hello Brian,

    here is an example of a pilot training in Bomber Command
    1) 8/1942 till 10/1942 : 17 ITW
    2) 21/11/42 till 17/12/42 : 6EFTS Sywell
    3) Posted to 31 RAF depot Moncton Canada
    4) 03/43 till 20/04/43 : 31 EFTS Dewinton Canada
    5) 16/05/43 till 09/09/43 : 32 SFTS Moose Jaw Canada
    6) 03/09/43 Received his "Wings"
    7) some time at 7 PRC Harrogate
    8) 15/02/44 till 29/05/44 : 12 (P)AFU Grant Ham
    9) 30/05/44 till 15/08/44 : 21 (P)AFU Wheaton Aston
    10) 06/44 detached to 1511 BAT flight Wheato Aston
    11) 15/08/44 till 01/11/44 : 18 OTU Finnigley
    12) 15/12/44 till 27/02/45 : 1662 HCU Blyton
    13) 28/02/45 posted to 166 Squadron
    14) 24/03/45 KIA

    Hope it helps you

    Best regards

    René

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    Brian, 35 hours per month is not too far off the expected value. Count on an hour or two before and again after every flight while in training for briefing, de-briefing, paperwork, etc. Training flights would often be only one or two hours in duration, particularly in elementary and intermediate trainers. So, he could be on duty (for example) 3 extra hours per flight hour, for a total of 140 hours per month. Add in some ground class room time, and non-flying waiting periods between schools*, and a long time average of 35 hours per month is believable.

    *And of course some time for square bashing!

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