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Thread: Aircrew rank?

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    Default Aircrew rank?

    I've just read a brief mention of an aircrew rank I was unaware of. I am assuming it was short lived and was post-WW2. PI was equivalent to Flight Sgt, PII to Sgt and PIII was a corporal, all of these in an article I read were pilots. I was also unaware that the RAF gave pilot status to a corporal equivalent rank. What can members tell me of these ranks?

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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    Hi Greg
    It was a short lived (1946 - 1950) and very unpopular rank system - the only surviving rank from it is Master Aircrew (Master Pilot,Nav,Eng etc)
    So they also had Nav 1 etc,Eng 1 etc.

    Funnily enough it sort of carried over into Air Cadet Gliding,if on the staff of a Gliding School once one was sufficiently skilled/experienced to fly solo without daily check flights - we were rated as 'P1'.Once we were qualified to take up Cadets on AEF we were rated as 'P2'.
    In 1971/72 P1 became Grade 2 (G2) and P2 became Grade 1 (G1)

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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    Just copied from Wiki for quickness....


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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    Thanks for the replies. Can I assume then, that this was the only period in RAF history when somebody as junior as a corporal could pilot an aircraft? I had always thought that Sgt was the minimum.

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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    As a 'qualified' Pilot yes Greg,of course during WW2 training the pupil pilots were 'generally' LAC whilst doing flying training - once they got 'wings' then they were promoted to either Acting Sgt or Commissioned.
    Going back to RFC days there were some low rank qualified pilots - at least one each of AM1 and AM2 rank (Jack 'ouijie' Noakes and Frank Courtney respectively) and some Cpl Pilots although I believe all were eventually promoted to Sgt prior to an operational posting,Frank Courtney was Instructing at Farnborough as an AM2 :).

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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    Interesting about Courtney, was he a pre-war pilot by any chance? It seems strange that back then they allowed such a lowly rank to instruct officers, even though he might have been well qualified to do so.

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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    Yes he was an apprentice with the Grahame White Flying School,and got his 'ticket' as a civvy,after joining up he was originally just doing normal AM2 work at Farnborough but they were desperately short of instructors and he eventually 'sideslipped' into the role of instructor.He wore glasses and Trenchard did not want him to fly operationally but he eventually managed to get to france,he wrote an interesting book (Flight Path by Frank T Courtney) - I have not read it for years so cannot remember accurately all the details but he ended up as Sgt Pilot in france and eventually commissioned and made Captain.
    Post war he became a freelance test pilot and had an interesting career (including with Cierva).

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    Default Re: Aircrew rank?

    The Wartime RAF was sometimes a very pragmatic and flexible service - one of the more unusual pilot entries might well have been R.A Carter who managed to join up age 29 and due to (very limited) pre war civvy Tiger Moth flying - he was posted straight to No2 Coastal Patrol Flight Abbotsinch.He was attired in plus 4's and Pork Pie Hat as he did not even have a uniform.
    After a quick check flight he was an operational Tiger Pilot complete with tyre inner tube,2 pigeons etc etc.
    Their normal route was Ardrossan - Arran - Kintyre - Rothlin Isle - Ailsa Craig then back to base to thaw out

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