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Thread: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

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    Default Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    The previous thread on Pilot Elementary flying training syllabus prompted me to ask the following question. One of my research subjects is P/O Chistakis Charalambous, pilot, KIA Wellington LN270 13/7/44. When he enlisted in October 1940, and eventually made it to 9 EFTS in July 1941, he was awarded his 'wings' during his time at EFTS and spent a year there as an instructor. This tells me that must have had flying training before he enlisted, but neither I nor his family had any evidence of this. Between 1939 when he arrived in Britain, London, and 1940 when he enlisted, he either learned to fly at a civilian flying club, or, joined the RAFVR which trained pilots during weekends in civilian life. Hence by the time these pilots reached EFTS after enlistment, their experience was utilised were it was needed , as Elementary Flight Instructors. Are there any records for the period 1939-1940 for civilian pilots licenses ? Are there any records for RAFVR recruits for the same period ?, because I have not seen any . I saw something about the Royal Aeroclub database, but that didn't turn up anything. If anyone knows anything.

    Incidentally, the rest of his crew in Wellington LN270 were,
    Lt Hoyer Kaj (SAAF/Danish) (Nav)
    F/O Martin E (Bomb Aimer)
    F/O Sheperd Ernest (W/O)
    Sgt Knight Alfred James (Gunner)

    another crew were:
    F/O Trigg J (Nav)
    F/O Bromwich D (gunner)
    Last edited by cyflyer1; 22nd May 2020 at 10:13.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Andrew, Hi,

    Chistakis Charalambous
    Mid-Nov 1940 Enlisted 1380245 in Block 1375001-1400000 RAFVR Issued Euston 01-Aug-40 to 30-Nov-41. TNA AIR 78/30/7 Image 253 R2C2.
    Nothing on him in the LG.
    (There are, incidentally, a number of similar sounding/spelled Surnames in that bit of AIR 78!).

    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Peter, there would have been some in the army (Cyprus Regiment) with that name, common Cypriot name. Promoted to P/O WEF 23/12/43, Gazetted 15/2/44 (mentioned on the service history), never been too confident on the LG search engine or that all information was actually published. Commissioned No. 162971.
    Last edited by cyflyer1; 22nd May 2020 at 11:49.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    cyflyer1,
    I have serious doubts that he would have been employed as a flying instructor (this is the official RAF term for their instructors, not "Flight instructors", which was a term used in the American forces as well as civilian schools) without having attained his RAF wings at some stage of his training, even at an Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School (which was really just an EFTS anyway). As he seems not to have attended any SFTS (Service Flying Training School) in the UK, there is a remote possibility that he was already qualified as a civilian pilot, but a service pilot would have to qualify on service-type aircraft, such as Harvard, Master, Oxford, or even on obsolete operational types such as Hinds, Audaxes, etc., before they were awarded their "wings". If he was already a military pilot qualified in another European country he would have been accepted more or less at face value, although he would still be required to demonstrate his competency as a pilot (perhaps a short course of familiarisation in wartime British meteorological conditions), but this does not seem very likely in this case. Even qualifying as an RAF flying instructor was quite a tough course, could be two or three months to get even the lowest instructor qualification, Category B. I take it that the official documentation on this chap is either very skimpy, or completely nil? This could be a tough nut to crack unless further information becomes available.
    David D

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Cyflyer1 -
    If you have Chistakis Charalambous service record it would be well worth posting it on this forum as some of the members are very experienced at deciphering RAF Forms.
    I use Imjur to copy/paste direct to the forum pages but any photo hosting site will work ok.

    @ David Duxbury
    There were anomolies in WW1 and WW2 where some pilots were 'awarded' wings without completing any sort of service flying training.
    Off the top of my head AM2 Frank T Courteney and AM1 Noakes in WW1.RA Carter in WW2 was given his wings with absolutely no service flying training to fly Tiger Moths on 'Scarecrow' Patrols - he arrived at the unit without even a uniform,obviously in WW2 any anomoly pilot would have to complete SFTS before going to a higher performance a/c.
    Last edited by bvs; 23rd May 2020 at 08:48.

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Hi David,
    I didn't list his full service so let me clarify a few things.


    He enlisted Oct 1940
    ITW Cambridge, Nov 1940, 4 months
    9 EFTS, Ansty, July 1941, 13 months
    3 AFU, Sth Cerney, approx 10 months
    RAF College Cranwell SFTS approx 5 months
    21 OTU
    40 Sqn.


    He was an instuctor, normal EFTS students course would be 4-6 weeks. I have a local newspaper clip with photo of him at 31st August 1941, and he is wearing his pilots wings, which I know normally is awarded at completion of SFTS. I also have court marshal papers for January 1942, which clearly state that as an instructor he allowed his student to fly below minimum altitude. Of this, and his attendence at SFTS there is no doubt. At that time of the war, they needed pilots, and instructors. Flying instructors at Advanced level, and Elementary level instructors needed to bring students up an 'elementary level', would have been two different things.
    I know he worked in civilian sales job in mid 1939 and he had no flying experience until then. I'm trying to figure out how he came to be an instructor by the time he attended EFTS. Either he was introduced to civil flying and took it up before enlisting and had hours (and maybe a license), either he joined the RAFVR and was taught to fly at an Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School weekends (which happened in those days), OR, attended EFTS ab initio, attained a high standard, and was awarded wings and retained to train up other basic students.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Another pedantic point, but where appropriate we have always subjected folk to a 'Court Martial' in the British military.

    All the best

    Jonny
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Jonny,
    they took their 'low flying' charges pretty seriously in those days. An altitude of 100ft over a certain street in Rugby was mentioned in the charge ! Bad boys. He was given a slap on the wrist, and demoted a rank, but not until he'd finished his instructing tour in August 42. I guess if you are instructing you have to have a minimum rank of Sgt, you can't have an LAC instructor, but they bring that on later.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    As well as the "Town Centre" Scheme that you refer to regarding the weekend and evening training of pilots (and later air crew and ground crew), there were full time eight week courses held by private companies for those that had volunteered to join the RAF .... so this is another possible route for you to explore.

    Regards

    PeteT
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Default Re: Elementary Flying Training pre Enlistment

    Thanks Pete,
    'to explore', I would like, however, where are the records of these establishments ?
    Andrew

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