Cat Driver wrote:
Shiny side don't take it personally as I am just stirring the pot.
The truth is there have always been good and bad instructors, maybe because there are so many instructors today compared to fifty years ago there are more bad ones?
Why stop at fifty years? Argueably by the logic presented if instructors have been getting steadily worse, then the very earliest instructors must surely have been the best. The supposing rate of hours needed to be "qualified to fly" if one takes the bureaucrat's mentality surely will be the proof in the pudding so to speak. By the Way, this is going to be a long post for which I place the blame at your feet, whether its good reading or not you can lay your own judegement.
I'll start with the time when we had a reasonably large number of training data to get a picture. Let's go back to the Great War. For those of you interested in further reading, you can start here
. I'll pull the most relevent stuff out for convinience sake.
William Hector Ptolemy was a typical trainee. An instructor took him up for a brief introductory flight, at No.88 Canadian Training Squadron (CTS), Armour Heights, on 3 December 1917. He took the controls for the first time during a 25-minute flight two days later. Bad weather occasionally interrupted his training and on 16 December 1917 he broke a propeller while landing in snow. He smashed another propeller on 22 December, and generally had difficulty with turns. On 3 January 1918 he flew for 40 minutes, executed seven landings, and made an emergency landing when his engine failed. He reported his first landing on skis on 29 January. Finally, on 5 February, having flown seven hours 25 minutes with an instructor, he made his first solo circuits; most pupils soloed after five hours.
Now clearly if we look solely at hours when we compare to some of the claims above in this thread, this fellow to have soloed in 7.4 hours must have had an excellent instructor and generally instruction must have been excellent at the time to be turning students loose at an average of 5 hours of instruction. sounds like the methods were a little hard on airplanes though. More revealing is the following:
Overall, the training scheme enrolled 9,200 cadets. Of these, 3,135 completed pilot training and more than 2,500 were sent overseas;
One has to wonder why the completion rate wasn't higher. Granted the War ended before some could complete, but that's a pretty high number of pilots even so who washed out for whatever reason. If say a good third of the pilots didn't finish before the War ended that still leaves us with a good chunk who must of washed out... or
The results were achieved at some cost. At least 129 cadets and some 20 instructors were killed in flying accidents.
Ouch. But things improved fortunately for future pilots.
Yet the safety record improved. In April 1917 there was one fatality for every 200 hours flown, in December 1917 one fatality for every 1,500 hours, and in October 1918 one fatality for every 5,800 hours flown.
So it appears at this juncture in time that pilot training was improving. For posterity's sake all future instructors owe a lot to Robert Smith-Barry for improving your chances of survival. So if pilot training - and by inference instructor ability - was improving, we must somewhere along the line find a juncture when it starts decreasing. Lets move along in time.
First I'll point out a small bit, but a very important crucial bit: The seeds of Transport Canada Aviation are sown! Another revealing bit here in terms of flight training and pilot competentcy...
The Canadian government established an Air Board of seven members to regulate and control commercial and civil aviation throughout the Dominion in 1919. The Board was also charged with defending the country from the sky.... Its only function was to give a 28-day refresher courses every other year to officers and airmen who had served in the RAF during the war.
Even then the bureaucrats felt that pilot skills only really need to be topped up every other year. I should note here dredging up stats for flight training in the interwar period yields very little, especially on the civillian side of things which often blurrs as the military to some degree often took a hand in regulating it. At this point oddly enough depending on where you were and what you were doing, pilots by the eve of the Second World War were considered "qualified" at anywhere between 30 hours and 65 hours of training. Clearly some instructors are showing themselves to be of better salt than their fellows. Unfortunately we must move to the next war to get some real numbers in the all important hours category which will plague pilot thinking from here on in. Some numbers from here are interesting.
At the beginning of the war, flight training lasted nine months, with three months of primary, three months of basic, and three months of advanced training. Each pilot had 65 flying hours of primary training and 75 hours of both basic and advanced training.
Three months to do 65 hours! Man what a lax schedule of training those fellows must have had. If only they could have figured out sooner that the equivelent skill can be conferred in 2 weeks! Clearly instructors still had some improving to do at this point, so we have not yet gotten to the golden age of instructing. One might add that they had a whopping 215 hours by the end of their advanced training. This is the Americans though, I'm sure we can dredge up some better hours to demonstrate the superiority of Commonwealth born training, but I'll leave that to someone else. Lets move on to later in the War, Instructors have a big kick in the butt to improve. Lets see...
I managed to go solo in 7 hrs. 50 mins. but had to make three circuits before I landed safely. On the first two attempted landings I was too close to the river bank and had to go round again. When I eventually landed I discovered that my instructor had hid himself in the flight hut as he didn’t think I was going to get down safely. In the innocence of youth, I was quite unperturbed. I had simply flown as I had been instructed. Perhaps that is why I was one of the two out of five who were selected for pilot training.
Once again we're washing people out (though in their defence they did have to have some way of filling gunner's spots, an unenviable task - I wonder if students would do better these days if they knew that was the other option if they didn't do well) and our pilot candidate takes a whopping 7.8 hours to solo. One has to ask why didn't all the students pass for pilot training? Clearly by mid war they haven't improved to the level we'd like - but one must note that they also haven't degenerated to the poor approximations they are today. We are running out of time so we must be near that golden age of instructing. Reasonably so. The end of the war will turn out a lot of pilots who now have learned the hard way, and many of them to survive the rigors of the War. We should now see a superior means of training pilots at this point - and especially now that we have a reasonable civillian training market to put them into.
This bears out as the now fully fledged bureaucracies have deemed a mere 30 hours for pilots to be considered qualified, following a training plan mostly derived from the ones used to send many young fellows off to war. Clearly we've found our golden age of flight instructing, Its all down hill from there...