The Aerodrome Home Page
Aces of WWI
Aircraft of WWI
Books and Film
The Aerodrome Forum
Links to Other Sites
Medals and Decorations
Search The Aerodrome
Today in History

The Aerodrome Forum

Go Back   The Aerodrome Forum > Reading Room > Aviation Personnel

Aviation Personnel Online books and articles related to WWI aviation personnel

Closed Article
Article Tools Display Modes
RFC Pilot Training
RFC Pilot Training
Michael Skeet
Published by Michael Skeet
3 December 1998
Page 11

Prior to mid-1917, though, pilots seem to have been posted to the front with hardly any specialized training, and with few hours on combat types. No doubt this was in part due to the demands of front-line squadrons, which wanted replacements as fast as they could be proven to be capable of the basics of flying. A.D. Bell-Irving became a fighting pilot as the RFC was expanding in preparation for the Somme offensive in 1916. He was posted to a front-line squadron with a total of 30 hours, 20 minutes flying time. About two and a half hours of that time involved dual instruction. Of the remainder, just eight and a half hours were on single-seaters, all on the type (Morane Saulnier N, a notoriously difficult machine) he was to fly at the front. In early 1917, R.V. Dodds was even more rushed. Though he had more flying time than Bell-Irving, only the last five hours were spent flying Bristol Fighters before he was posted to 48 Squadron (then the only F2b squadron at the front). Dodds probably survived only because, in between completing his higher training and being posted, he spent several weeks as an instructor and thereby missed the worst moments of Bloody April.


Nowhere in the preceding notes have I made any mention of the awarding of wings. This is deliberate. Prior to the introduction of the Gosport System, there doesn’t seem to have been any consistency in the way wings were awarded. Few of the sources I’ve used mention wings at all, and the evidence suggests that before fall 1917 at least, there was no ceremonial parade at which wings were awarded. In some cases, cadets weren’t even told that they were allowed to wear wings; William Gibbard wrote that he and his fellows started wearing their wings while off duty once they’d soloed, but kept them either pinned on or loosely stitched, so that they could be removed quickly if a senior officer hove into view. These cadets didn’t wear wings full-time until they were sent to the front. E.C. Burton was allowed to wear wings once he’d passed the required tests at his Canadian elementary training squadron (remember that Canadian squadrons provided more detailed training than did their UK counterparts); a list of qualified pilots was posted.

Technically, I believe that pilots weren’t allowed to wear wings until they had been qualified for service at the front. A.D. Bell-Irving received his wings the day before he was posted to the front, and that’s the standard that the Gosport System adhered to. I should point out here that my notes for Bell-Irving are contradictory, because I have another note stating that he received his wings shortly after his first solo, having done an additional two and a half hours of flying. Since his totals before being posted were just over 30 hours, there’s a discrepancy here that I can’t as yet answer.

<<  <    Next Page (Page 11 of 13)    >  >>
Closed Article


pilot training, rfc, royal flying corps

Article Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Article Article Starter Category Comments Last Post
Pilot Training Pips Other WWI Aviation 3 28 May 2007 02:20 AM
German pilot unit assignment and training. Raben People 2 4 July 2005 07:34 AM
aircraft without wings / penguins / pilot training Volker_Nemsch Aircraft 8 17 February 2002 11:56 AM
Fighter pilot training leo 2001 22 14 December 2001 11:55 AM
Pilot training and life expectancy Wolfgangmapleleaf 2001 6 29 November 2001 11:36 AM

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2024 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright ©1997 - 2023 The Aerodrome
Article powered by GARS 2.1.9 ©2005-2006