Tag Archives: 1940

Canada and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, 1940

Canada was the go-to place to get your training as an airman in the Second World War.

“In December 1939 an agreement was signed by the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to form the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, answering to a desperate need to match the production of warplanes with trained airmen to fly them. In Britain this was not to be achieved by using the operational aerodromes under pressure at home. A similar agreement was set up with South Africa.

“Canada was the primary location. It was not too far from the theatres of war, but provided dedicated aerodromes, ideal weather conditions, wide open spaces for flying unhampered by enemy action, and readily available resources such as fuel and industrial facilities in both Canada and nearby America for production and maintenance of aircraft. For Canada, this was seen as their major contribution to the war, and it was a huge operation, involving 94 schools in over 200 sites across Canada, nearly 11,000 aircraft and over 100,000 ground organisation personnel. Many Canadian young men also joined up to the RCAF and 55% of BCATP graduates were Canadian. Overall the BCATP trained almost half of all Allied servicemen in the various air forces, constituting a significant factor in establishing the Allies’ air supremacy in the conflict.

“Bryan Wild was one of over 130,000 air crew to graduate through the system in Canada.”

From

‘Flying Blind: The Story of a Second World War Night Fighter Pilot’ :
by Flt Lt Bryan Wild and Elizabeth Halls

Introduction to Chapter 3: “Wings Over Moose Jaw”

Header photo shows Untrained Pilots Tommy Hunter, Bryan Wild and Jimmy Ward enjoying the cold weather at Moose Jaw, Canada, 1940, courtesy of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

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Filed under Aviation, Aviation history, RAF history, Royal Air Force, Second World War, Uncategorized

Tiger Moth

Prestwick, October 1940

“Just before two I put on my flying gear and parachute. While Allan was signing the Flight Record book in the hut, I walked out to the aircraft to climb into the rear cockpit and spend a few minutes looking round and getting used to the confines of the cockpit, as the Sergeant had suggested. I looked down at the floor and gently tapped it with the sole of my flying boot. God! It seemed paper-thin. Would I fall through? Would I be sick? I glanced along the wings: ribs, struts, wires, the gravity-feed petrol tank above and central on the upper wing. Up front, the nose and the large wooden propeller, leather edging round the top edge of the cockpit, small windscreen, smell of petrol and oil.

I suddenly felt uncomfortable, nervous and overheated: the fur-lined Irvin flying jacket was rather stifling, but I knew that once I was airborne the clothes would be essential. Even my hands felt clammy inside the gloves. I sighed, then looked down to the control stick between my legs. I held it gently and moved it to gauge its mobility. I noted with some satisfaction that the ailerons and the elevators moved up and down. I then tested the rudder bar: OK, too.”

GAFWIEJW

And here am I in 2015 sitting in THE SAME cockpit Dad sat in all those years ago – not the very first he flew that day, but one of around 8 in which he trained in those weeks: BB814, now G-AFWI

“Then came the starting-up procedure dealing with tail-trimming, ignition switches, throttle, fuel and so on. The mechanic responded to the ‘contact’ routine and the propeller was swung. It fired after the second swing. I experienced immediately and for the first time the cool slipstream from the prop and instinctively brought the goggles down to protect my eyes. The engine was making a regular pulsating noise while it was warming up, and I liked the rhythm of it….

“The aircraft slowly surged forward as the throttle was opened. At first the stick was held back, but as the speed increased the stick was moved forward to bring the tail up. I could now see ahead beyond the front cockpit and at about 60 mph we were riding on the surface of the grass with hardly a bump. I suddenly realised that my nervousness had evaporated. I was simply thrilled at this new experience and felt on top of the world even though we were still on the ground. I looked to one side and saw the parked aircraft, buildings, petrol bowsers flashing by. And then, as if by magic, we were airborne. Speed … around the 70 mark. The climb straight ahead was gentle while airspeed was gained. At a height of 1,000 feet we levelled off and into a straight and even flight path. Speed … around 100 mph. Allan asked me if I was enjoying it, and I said I was. I was surprised to find that I wasn’t feeling squeamish in any way.”

'Dad's' Tiger Moth

BB814 (G-AFWI) – a typical log book entry covers spinning, sideslipping, precautionary landing, steep turns.

Flt Lt Bryan Wild and Elizabeth Halls, (2014) Flying Blind: The Story of a Second World War Night Fighter Pilot. United Kingdom, Fonthill Media.

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