Navy Pilots: Fleet Air Arm

Discussion in 'The Fleet Air Arm' started by Canaldrifter, Jan 29, 2007.

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  1. Navy Pilots: Fleet Air Arm is being repeated on Discovery Wings this evening, 7pm & 10pm.
  2. Actually it wuz on at 11pm, not 10. My mistake. I watched it. Two episodes.

    Mostly about a trainee pilot doing his first deck landings in a Gazelle, on the back of a small ship, and the investigations into two non-fatal Merlin prangs..... due to sticky rotor brakes.

    You'd think an experienced pilot would notice that effect on engine revs alone, or are they really that powerful?

    Not bad though.....
  3. Actually dodgy rotor brake - design error that has now been fixed.

    And yes the engines are very powerful - enough power when at full power to override the rotor brake, create sh*tloads of friction hence heat hence fire hence crash (basically).
  4. Helicopter engines are really powerful. In fact on the Manchester our pilot tried to lift the ship (forgot to disengage the harpoon) Funny though the shear pin didn't shear but bent, so the M1 managed to remove it and the flight gathered for an official presentation of shear pin to rather embarrassed pilot.
  5. where can i get one of those andy ? looks like seconds of few to me
  6. So when are the Navy going to let other ranks fly choppers, then? Only thing I never liked about RN. Their officer class were just a tad too elitist for my liking. One reason why I punched one. But that's another story.
  7. Probably about never.

    It's the same case with the Brylcreem Boys. All pilots and observers are commissioned officers. The only way a rating will be able to fly a helicopter would be to become an upper yardman.

    Alternatively, I believe aircrewmen are given an elementary amount of flying training, so you would just have to be in air at the time when the pilot and observer for some reason lose the ability to fly the aircraft.

    Do the Army allow OR's to fly as pilots and observers? I don't actually know in their case.
  8. It used to be army policy to get as many soldiers as possible qualified as pilots. This came about when some boffin found out that a Landrover and fully equipped trailer was more expensive that a Scout helicopter, so if a private can drive a Landrover, sergeants can fly helicopters. I believe that they did a two year tour and were then returned to unit. Meant that in the event of a war there would be plenty of pilots who only needed refresher training. I did a job at Middle Wallop and met a bootie staff sergeant instructor in the mess. However I cannot see the RN bringing back rating pilots.
  9. RM2PhD - and RM Officers aren't? I would like to disagree with you there. Anyway, anybody in the know would not use the term 'chopper.' We reserve the word 'chopper' for RM officers!

    The reason the RN have commissioned officers as Pilots and Observers is a legacy from when nuclear weapons were part of the armament. It was deemed (whether rightly or wrongly) that Officers were needed in aircraft to see that the mission was carried out. When the 'instant sunshine for submariners' weapons were taken out of service that was not changed.

    Whether it should be has been a topic for much debate since. It works the way it is, so why change it. The make-up of Squadrons and Flights is well-balanced and introducing NCA as P/O would make future appointing, sorry, assignments more difficult.

  10. Army types often question RAF (and therefore by association RN) policy to officer only pilots and WSO/Observers.

    The RAF ceased recruiting SNCO pilots and navs in the early 60's due, as Bruiser suggests, to the V-Force and the US requirement that aircrew involved in nuclear weapons delivery should be officers. The last RAF Master (WO) Pilot retired around 89 (I met one at Binbrook on the Lightning sim in 87).

    The officers only policy has continued for several reasons as I understand it:

    1. In a survey done in the 90's very, very few RAF/RN candidates at OASC who passed aircrew aptitude tests failed to demonstrate equal suitability for commissioning at that location (or for RN candidates at AIB).

    2. RAF and RN aircrew have traditionally operated more complex aircraft than their AAC counterparts including multi-engined aircraft. This made them more sught after in civillian aviation and therefore commissioned service (and its associated quality of life) was viewed by both services as a retention issue.

    3. The pay differences between SNCO and junior officer aircrew is actually not that great, although I acknowledge that the latter's pension costs are higher.

    Interesting to note that the RM have now also gone to all officer aircrew I believe. As an aside, the AAC only now have pilots with all their Observers and Gunners now retired or remustered. However, their door gunners are going through a bit of a career enhancement to bring them more in line with RAF WSOps and RN POAcmn I believe.

  11. It would seem to me that skills and ability to fly should be more important than educational background, and education and opportunity are the only difference why most orficers are orficers and most ratings are ratings.

    Ther are some bloody awful officer pilots, and probably some excellent would-be rating pilots, if only given the chance.

    The RAF had no problem recruiting sergeant pilots during WW2 when life expectancy was about three weeks.

    There is a kind of elitism going on.

    When I first joined up, there were still some senior ratings who had piston engine taxying certificates, though the last of the rating pilots who actually left the ground whilst in control had long gone.

    I applied for aircrew whilst an apprentice, already having the educational requirements, but was turned down because I was too tall (6ft 4ins). Well actually it wasn't the overall height that got me, it was the length of my thigh. If I had had to bang out during basic fixed wing training I would have lost my legs against the windscreen.

    The guy who applied with me made it. Eight years later he was dead.
  12. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Durr. Nobody flies anything unless they have passed the aptitude - so skills are important, as is education which is why officers do it. Those ratings with sufficient skills to become officers do, and if they are good enough - then they fly too. One of our best SHAR pilots started life as a MEM.

    I assume you base that comment on recent, prolonged exposure to the current FAA Officer corps....... and as I said already - any ratings who wish to fly and have the apatitude and necessary qualities do so....

    That was WW2..... which finished a while back.

    I wondered when the traditional chip on the shoulder would appear. The initial reason was the bucket of sunshine control. Nowadays all aviators are Warfare officers with a career path that goes beyond aviation - places where a pure rating aircrew cannot go - hence the commissioning of those ratings who aspire to fly.

    Your canal barge looks lovely - I'd stick to that......
  13. I really do not see the problem as the system allows for lots of ratings to be promoted to officer. From what I have seen the academic training involved in pilot and obs training is huge, and quite rightly so. When I have been a passenger I have wanted the guys up front to be as highly trained as possible!!
  14. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    I think you are missing the point Silverfox, there is an elitism going on whether you like it or not. Just why does a pilot have to be an Officer? How many pilots do go on to pursue a career in warfare v's how many leave to pursue a civilian flying career? Just how many of the guys who joined up to be pilots give a hoot about taking on the role of an Officer.

    The best pilot is the guy with the flying aptitude, education and intelligence to do the job well regardless of his commissioned status. The very fact that a FAA pilot is an Officer first and pilot second flies against the civilian inspired "efficiency" and "effectiveness" ethos which we in the engineering world are having rammed down our throats at every opportunity. It needs to be looked at, in this modern cost inspired RN there is no room for "waste" (at least that is what I'm told) Do we need Officers or Pilots? do they need to be both? The AAC seem to have it about right and looking at the Aviators Pay Spine there are some significant savings to be had here. Don't forget though, and this is so important, LEAN philosophy is not about saving money!
  15. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Bruiser, I believe it goes back further than that. The RN had rating (Petty Officer) pilots in WW2 but once that was over, those that could or would be commissioned were moved up to the Wardroom and the others were let go (I think). One driver for this was what happened when the Squadron embarked and some pilots were out of the loop of Squadron chat in the Wardroom. Someone longer in the tooth than me might have something to say on this.

    I should have thought that the education level (as an indicator of ability to absorb technical instruction) for pilot must surely mean that the same people are eligible for BRNC anyway. There's a lot more to flying than just driving.

    In the 60s we took short service aircrew (commissioned as mids and S/Lts initially) with O-levels (BRNC required A-levels) - it would be interesting to know how many of these stayed on and what career heights they reached. We used to call them AVCADs when they were under training (I know, disgraceful!). Similar short-service seamen officers were in my opinion not such a great success but the idea was to make up numbers at the junior level and then lose them rather than have too many higher qualified people doomed to promotional disappointment.

    In any case the RN should be filtering out bright ratings for UY anyway - it always has done although it has for years been a sorry comment on free public education that these same people had missed the boat at school and not been pushed through to A level.

    In the 50s and 60s I always thought flying pay was an advance on pension - and so it proved for some of my personal friends.

    For reading on this subject, try John Winton's 'HMS Leviathan' which is really about Eagle. It appears from its publication date (1967, 10 years after JW was serving in Eagle) to have been held back by Admiralty spooks for some years.
  16. Of course you dont need to be a member of the officer corps to fly airplanes, in fact it would probably be more efficient if you were not. As a rating you would be told what sorties you had do and not decide for yourself. A friend of mine has a PPL, got his own airplane and regular flies Xcountry doing his own nav, and whats his job? emptying septic tanks with a shit tank and tractor, a dam nice chap although a bit smellie at times but hey! ho! so what. This officer flying malarky started at the end of WW2 with NCO pilots flying four engined bombers back from Germany with wounded crew and on one engine, This led to a lot of publicity and medals, and officers loved all that sort of pomp and glory, (such as Princees Anne today with her milatary costume full of baubles,) so being in command they stopped all nco pilots and navigators. If the war was not just about won I doubt that this would have happend. The Luftwaffe through out the war always had NCO pilots and test pilots.Unfortunatly the navy has operated a segregated, apartheid and class discrimination system for so many years that the hands will always be the hands and the officer corps the officer corps. amen
  17. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer


    I think you are missing the point Silverfox, there is an elitism going on whether you like it or not. [/quote]

    Well of course the RN is elitist - as in any hierachical organisation, not exactly news there.

    Just because they chose to leave does not invalidate the proposed career path that is selected, and remember numbers are chosen to take into account wastage. And rating aircrew would'nt leave for commercial employment either??? A Flight Commander can go straight from his flight to the command of an MM/PP - a CPO/PO could not....

    It could be argued that by training ratings as aircrew we create 'one trick ponies' vice the versatile beast that is the Officer - I don't think that would be viewed as an efficient way to spend money...

    I don't think I have missed the point, and please don't think that my view is that ratings are inherently inable to fly - you only have to go to a mess when the Playstations are out to see who has aptitude!

    My point is that the RN gets a better return for the money invested in Officer training, because that individual is capable and is being groomed for more than just waggling a stick.

    Those who think that it would be fun to fly but don't want the responsibilities that a commission would bring are living in a dream world, whilst those who have looked on and thought "why can't I do that?" and who have had the aptitude, intelligence and more importantly the determination not only usually make good aircrew but more importantly good officers as well.

  18. Bollocks. Try telling that to all the UY and SUY officers I have known. The RN is a meritocracy.
  19. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Well said Stumpy

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