Albert Earl Godfrey

7 Dec 1916 Training at Farnboroough

Today after being called into the office, I was informed that since I had a background and practical experience with vickers and Lewis guns, had already completed the observers course previously and had some practical flying experience, I was informed that I would be participating in the Advanced Pilot Training course. “Just what exactly is that Sir?” I asked. “Things have changed considerably since you were last here Godfrey. In essence we have discovered that the previous training was somewhat inadequate in many areas. I shant cover them all, but basically here is the gist of the more important factors.

New to the curriculum are three hours of practical and three hours of in-class training dedicated to bombs and bombing techniques.

The in-flight minimum requirements are twenty hours of solo time, composed of two solo landings, one cross-country flight of at least sixty miles,
and the ability to climb to 8,000 feet, descend, land, and then bring the aircraft to a stop in a circle fifty yards in diameter. I doubt this will be a problem for you and your instructor will evaluate just how extensive this training needs to be.

Similarly, all those flying Sopwith Pup and Vickers aircraft (classified as scouts) require twenty eight hours in their aircraft of choice. This is because it is thought that pilots require additional time in these aircraft before heading overseas because of their powerful engines, their increased manoeuvrability, and the dangers associated with scout flying versus observation. One practical feature is that one must learn to use his craft as a weapon and the fixed machine guns require you to learn how to point your craft to shoot effectively. So, on that note you can get yourself over the the Advanced Pilot Training course and begin. You are dismissed”.

I snapped to attention, saluted, and left the office. I was already calculating in my mind, 48 hours practical training, possibly 8 days there, plus the other training material possibly another 8 days. Barring any inclement weather cancelling the flights I figured I could be back in France in 16 to 20 days, or so I hoped.

I sauntered over to the Advance Pilot Training hut and introduced myself to one of the instructors, asking specifically if there was any manuals for the basic training. I wanted to brush up on what might have changed since I went through the course. He handed me a revised course manual which I took to my billet to peruse. I noted the following changes:

It was after basic flight training that a pilot.s regimen in 1916 began to differ from the instruction of earlier years. After being certified in basic aerial operations, a potential pilot was now sent to the advanced flying schools, also called gunnery schools. These advanced schools were established in 1916 to accommodate the expansion of the RFC and the changing nature of the war in the air. Recon Photo sim., Gun Camera for machine gun practice in shooting enemy., Stunt flying (turns, loops, dives…)

The first requirement was that a pilot pass a series of written exams, as in earlier years. These written exams included six papers on the following subjects: the rotary engine, the stationary engine and signalling, rigging, theory of flight, and instruments, crosscountry-flying, meteorology, astronomy, artillery direction, bombs, and photography.

I noted there was no mention of combat training or defensive/offensive manouvers. Something that the pilots back at RFC-25 were always discussing and sharing their hard gained knowledge. I suspected that the front line experience was not making it back into the training program.

I put down the manual and decided to have a nap before lunch and the beginning of my first class in the afternoon.

Last edited by Robert_Wiggins; 04/17/17 06:22 PM.

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