Learning to Fly in a Stearman In 1941, the British Way

//Learning to Fly in a Stearman In 1941, the British Way

Learning to Fly in a Stearman In 1941, the British Way


When President Roosevelt sent General Arnold to Great Britain early in 1941 he empowered him to offer help in many forms to the then sorely pressed single-handed champion of democracy. One type of help offered – and eagerly accepted – was permission to set up “Contract Schools’ with civilian flying school operators in this country. At a recent meeting in Dallas, Major W . F. Long was referred to by General B.K. Yount of the U.S.A.A.F. Flying Training Command as “one of the pioneer operators,’ and it was fitting that this, No. 1 British Flying Training School, should in June 1941 have been started at Dallas Aviation School with Major Long. Since then a subsidiary company, Terrell Aviation School, Ltd., has been the civilian contracting company and Mr. L.H. Luckey has from the start been the School Director.

For the first year of its operation the School had a R.A.F. staff of two and a half officers and one N.C.O. – the “half officer’ spending half his time at another B.F.T.S., and the solitary N.C.O. being Sergeant Moffat who is still with us. In those days they had a feeling of remoteness from the rest of the R.A.F. – hence the title of “Detached Flight” for this publication.

This is now a “mixed” school, and we have among us for training U. S. A. A. F. flying cadets as well as R.A.F. cadets, I use the term “mixed” as I see, and am glad to see, that British and American cadets do mix together well. To me there is no difference between you and I hope that your getting together and learning to understand each other will have all the effect on the future of the world after the war that I think it could

As I am at the moment of writing engaged in handing over the School to Wing Commander F.B. Toskins, A.F.C., preparatory to returning to England. I should like to thank all the instructors, maintenance crews, and staff personnel for their splendid help and cooperation. My time as Commanding Officer at this school has been made enjoyable as well as fruitful through this fine school spirit, and I am sure that my successor can look forward to its continuance.

The R.A.F. and American civilian staffs have always been proud of the pilots the school produces. The justification of our earlier pride is evident in reports from fighting fronts throughout the world; and it is our real conviction that further and greater proofs can and will be given by you of the soundness of your training here.

F.W. MOXHAM, Wing Commander

No. 1 B.F.T.S., Terrell, Texas 

The above Forward is reprinted from “Detached Flight”, the book of No. 1 British Flying training School. 

I’d like to outline the British Primary program as taught in 1941 at Terrell, Texas, however, I must apologize for any errors or omissions that I might include because I’m telling about a program in which I was involved forty years ago. Unfortunately, the instructor’s manuals for both the Army and British Primary that I had have long since been loot, missing in action or whatever. After some 18 or 20 moves, a certain amount of material seems to disappear.

The reason I picked the British program is that I feel it was a little nicer program to describe, mostly by virtue of the fact that it had an introduction into instrument and night flying which the U. S. Army primary program didn’t have. Also, there are probably quite a few more U.S. Army primary instructors still around, so if anyone wanted to write a synopsis on that, it is probably a lot easier to find someone who was on that program.

The classes usually consisted of sixty students and each instructor had five. We flew a morning shift from 0700 to noon and then we had an evening shift from noon to 1700. If you were flying morning shift, you would fly that one week and then the following week you’d fly the afternoon shift. Usually we showed up about thirty minutes prior to take-off time, because at exactly 0700, you were expected to be ready for take-off. The instructor flew with each student for one hour and thirty minutes or so and thirty minutes prior to take-off was the time when you’d get all five of your students around and have the pre-flight critique, going over the maneuvers to be executed, to be sure everybody understood what they were supposed to do. Needless to say, it was impossible to fly a decent ride if you didn’t understand what you’re trying to do. We always tried to make an extra effort to be sure that the instructor explained what was to be expected of the student. If the student had any questions, this was the time to ask them.

The first meeting was usually a day ahead of the time the program actually started. During this exposure, (the cadets had already been given a study guide) we went over the rudimentary problems with them, mainly showing them how the cockpit was laid out and explaining to them seat adjustment, securing the seat belts, putting on the parachute and being able to sit in the cockpit at the proper height. The proper height being where, in level flight, the top of your head was just about level with the top of the windshield, or one notch below that. When you were sitting in this position the rudder pedals should be adjusted so that you were able to have full travel just prior to the knee being straight. We also cautioned them that you wanted to be sure that each rudder pedal was adjusted the same on each side so that you weren’t flying “lopsided”.

We’d go over the engine starting procedure and taxiing the airplane. You wanted to taxi slowly enough so that if you did use full rudder and kick the steerable tail wheel out of “steerable” into “full swiveling” that you’d be able to control the airplane instead of ground looping. This was usually two or three mph. It was essential to S-turn while taxiing, moving back and forth 30° or so each side so that you could clear the area ahead of you. Then, of course, we got into the trim adjustment to be sure they understood how that worked and also that as you were flying to be sure that you were constantly using the trim tab. When you’re flying straight and level you want the load off the stick so that the airplane almost flies itself. Then we discussed how to grip the control stick. It’s a light grasp, enough grasp to be able to do what you want, but you don’t want to choke it to

death. In case you did find a student that did have a habit of choking it, you lay the palm of his hand up on top of the stick and let him grip his fingers down from there and he’d soon find that the cramps in his hand were so severe that this would eliminate his desire to keep choking the stick. Also, I might mention on the rudder, you had your instep up on the rudder pivot point normally during taxiing so that you could adequately use the brakes, but once you got lined up for take-off – and the same way coming in for landing and while doing all your flying – the heels were down on the floorboards and you actually flew by the balls of your feet or even tickled the rudders with your big toes. Always bear in mind that a little bit of rudder used soon is worth a whole lot more than a lot of rudder used late – especially a whole lot too late! In fact, a whole lot of rudder too late is many times worse than no rudder at all.

We’d then discuss the throttle. If you hold your left hand up vertically with the thumb facing aft and then fold down the index finger, you have a thumb, a middle finger, a ring finger and a little finger. These were the four positions of the throttle. Those four positions of the throttle – with almost no exceptions – is what we used throughout this training program. The thumb represented the closed position; the middle finger represented the cruise position; the ring finger represented the climb position and the little finger represented full throttle open or take-off. That is exactly when we used these positions. If you wanted to glide, you closed the throttle. You did not have if half way between cruise and closed. You had it closed.

Occasionally, you’d clear the engine to keep it from loading up, but normal glide it was with the throttle closed. Take-off was wide open throttle. Break ground, start your climb, and it came back to the climb position. It stayed there until you finished climbing. In fact, it stayed there until you leveled off and reached cruising airspeed. Then the throttle came back to the cruise position. This was very important. I stressed to the cadets that they should embed this in their minds. They must be sure that they understood this throttle position arrangement as this was what they were going to be using for the next twelve weeks. The cadet flew about five hours a week. They flew 60 hours total, so that meant twelve weeks total time in the program.

I’ll now outline, briefly, how this pro-grain went. The first eight to ten hours would be with the instructor. Somewhere between eight and ten hours was the most probable area that the cadet would solo. From solo time through roughly the 20 hour stage he had half solo and half dual, during which time, around the 15 hour mark, he’d have a progress check. From 20 to 25 hours the time was half dual, half solo, spent mostly on air work and whatever the cadet might be weak on at this point. From 25 to 30 hours again was half solo, half dual and the cadet was introduced to aerobatics. At around 30 hours he’d have another progress check. The 30 to 35 hour phase still was half dual and half solo. Part of the dual was an introduction into instrument flying and at around 40 hours he’d have another progress check.

The 35 to 40 hour area concentrated on the cadet’s weaker maneuvers and that was again half dual and half solo. From 40 to 45 hours was mostly solo, about 3/4s or so. At the 45 hour mark the cadet was introduced to night flying. Half of that was dual and half solo. This was the 45 to 50 hour phase with another check ride at 50 hours. The final phase of 50 to 60 hours was 3/4 solo and again concentrated on the cadet’s weaker points. At around 60 to 61 hours he got his final check.

If everything went fairly normally, and there was no reason to believe it wouldn’t, the cadet would have around 60-62 hours when he finished, about half solo and half dual.

While I am talking about solo, I might just mention that if a cadet had nine hours or so before he soloed and his buddy soloed with only eight, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t coming along in good order. We expected a whole lot out of the cadet to solo. When I say that I don’t mean that we expected him to just get around the field without killing himself or cracking up the airplane. He was expected to be competent in observing traffic, looking around, keeping oriented with reference to the field and not going to go out and get lost. He would be competent in stalls, both power on and off and in level flight and turns. He’d be able to go into and out of a spin and his air work would be acceptable in the areas of being able to do climbs, glides, straight and level, S-turns across a road and coordination exercises. His take-offs and landings would be definitely decent and he’d be expected to recover from a bad landing, should he make one, and be able to initiate a go-around. I had occasion where I even held a cadet off for a while because in his original exposure, he never made a bad landing. That was very unusual, but it did happen and until he demonstrated to me his ability to recover from a bad landing, he would not solo


I will write this just as though I was talking to the cadets and conducting a training session.

Well, good morning fellows, this is the first day that we’re going to be starting on our flight program. I might point out that today will be mostly a familiarization ride. I’ll do most of the flying, give you a chance to try your hand at straight and level, as this will probably be the only flight that you’ll get during this whole training program where you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the ride. From here on out we’ll be expecting you to do most of the work and today’s flying will such that we will taxi out and take-off, exit from the traffic pattern and go out and ride around. I’ll show you the auxiliary field, make a landing there and then I’ll demonstrate to you S-turns across a road and some coordination exercises and of course some climbs and glides because, as you know, when we leave the traffic pattern, we climb up straight ahead on take-off to 300 feet. The first standard rate turn is to the left 90 degrees. Then we go up to 500 feet and make a 45 degree turn out to the right. Then make climbing turns up to 1000 feet to go cross country to the area where we’ll either go to the auxiliary field or do S-turns across a road.

I’m also going to help you familiarize yourself a little bit now with the proper procedure for doing S-turns a-cross a road. This will be one of the early maneuvers that we’ll be doing. It’s a good training maneuver, and, if done properly, will go a long way towards teaching you the basic fundamentals on making turns in the airplane and keeping everything under control. We’ll pick a long road that is 90 degrees to the wind. We’ll descend to 500 feet and enter onto this road at a 90 degree angle, into the wind, and start a standard rate turn. Now for those of you who might be a little lax in your memory, let me go over the three types of turns that we’re going to use in this airplane. One, of course, is the shallow turn that we use for climbs and that occasionally you may make on final approach to get a little better lined up with the runway slot or landing slot, as the case may be. But, generally speaking, other than that the only time you use the shallow turn is in climbs. I might mention that in a shallow turn, the bottom wing that is high (if you turn to the left, I’m talking about the right wing where the struts intersect the bottom wing) the horzon should go right through that area. A standard rate turn is when the center section wires are parallel to the horizon and a steep turn is when the lower set of center section struts are parallel to the horizon.

Normal maneuvers are done with standard rate turns, or the normal turn. The times that we’ll do steep turns is strictly a practice maneuver.

Now we’re going to go over the first hour. I’m going to take-off, climb out straight ahead, level off at 300 feet, and make a standard rate turn to the left for a 90 degree change of direction. I will level off there and then climb again to 500 feet, level off and make a standard rate turn with a 45 degree change of direction to the right. (I’m leaving the traffic pattern) Once I reach the 45 degree change of direction, I’m going to shallow out the turn to a shallow turn and then I’ll make 90 degree changes in direction in shallow turns as I climb up to my cruising altitude. (in this case, I’ll use 1000 feet) When I reach 1000 feet, I’ll level off and the throttle will come back to the cruise position and I’ll make a standard rate turn to whatever direction I need to proceed to the auxiliary field.

When I get there I’ll close the throttle, descend in a gliding turn with standard rate turns (90 degree change of direction) and set up my gliding airspeed of 80 mph. When I reach traffic pattern altitude I’ll advance the throttle to cruise, enter the traffic pattern at a 45 degree angle from downwind, turn downwind and pass the edge of the field, count to ten, make a 90 degree standard rate turn to the left still at cruising airspeed and throttle setting, and as I make a 90 degree turn to the left enter the crosswind or base leg entering into the area for a landing.

 When I see the pathway that I’m going to make my landing on (bear in mind that we’re flying off sod fields here, so lining up with the runway is something we don’t get into) we pick a visual pathway that we’re going to land on because lot of times we may have three or four airplanes landing at the same time. Each one has picked a slot to land on and so this is why I speak of picking a pathway. When this pathway that I’ve picked for a landing is approximately 45 degrees visual out my left side, I’ll close the throttle and lower the nose to what I know is the gliding attitude and maintain a gliding airspeed of 80 mph. I’ll start my turn into the field. I’ll use a standard rate turn, but if I roll out and I see that I’m either too far over or not far enough over to line up with the path that I’d picked for a landing, I’ll use a shallow turn to line myself up exactly where I want to be, maintaining the gliding speed of 80 mph. The throttle is closed. As I cross the edge of the field I should be somewhere between 10 and 15 feet high and I’ll start to break my glide. I’ll come back on the stick and make a normal three point landing. Later on in the program I’ll explain what I’m thinking about and what I expect for you to do when we take-off and when we land. But at the moment, I’m going to be doing the take-off and the landing. This is all we’ll discuss about it at the present time. You do have your books to read about this and I’m sure that’ll help you a lot too. If there’s any questions on anything I’ll be glad to hear them now.

Anyway, if there’s no questions on that then, we’ll take-off from the auxiliary field and do a normal departure and then go out and select a road to demonstrate S-turns across a road. Also, I might mention, and I’ll say this many times before we get through with our program, anytime I’m flying the airplane, I want you following me through. That means I want your feet lightly lying on the rudder pedals so that you can tell how I’m using them; your left hand should be lightly on the throttle so you can tell how I’m using it, but I don’t want any help; and I want your right hand lightly touching the stick so that you can be aware of what I’m doing there. But there again, I don’t want any help. Anytime you’re flying the airplane, I’m not going to be on the controls. I can tell what you’re doing by observing the attitude changes of the airplane and the way it feels and sounds and so forth. But for you, I want you following me through, but I don’t want you helping me. If you’re helping me, you’re not receiving the signals that I want you to be receiving.

Anyway, we’re now going out to do some 8-turns across a road. I will describe this maneuver and I’ll probably describe it many times over before we get all through to be sure you understand it. This maneuver is done at 500 feet and you begin by picking a road that’s 90 degrees to the wind. You start the maneuver going into the wind. You’ll cross the road at 500 feet into the wind and make a left hand standard rate turn. As you start turning downwind, after you’re halfway through the 180 degree turn, you’ll have to steepen up your turn a bit. The reason for this is that the wind is trying to blow you back across the road before you’re going to be through with your turn, You don’t want this to happen. You want to cross that road with the wings level and at 90 degrees to it. So in this area, the last part of your turn, you’ll have to steepen up the turn a bit. As you cross the road, if you start out to the left, you’ll then turn back to the right and you’ll have to use about the same bank going back to the right as you had to maintain on the last part of your turn coming in there. When you get to the 90 degree position, you shallow out back to about the standard rate or normal turn where the center section wires now are parallel to the horizon. You’re also paying attention to your altitude, it should be maintained at 500 feet and generally speaking this doesn’t mean 550 feet, it means 500 feet. When you begin altitude control may be something you’ll have to watch, but as you get more experience, you’ll find that maintaining your altitude within 10 or 15 feet isn’t all that difficult. That’s what will be expected of you before you get through with this course.

So we make some turns to the right and the left, always crossing the road at 90 degrees and always maintaining our altitude of 500 feet. When you get down to the end of the line, you make two left hand turns and start your way back. As we finish that, we’ll climb back up to 1000 feet and start for home and I’ll demonstrate the coordination exercise. This is a very important maneuver, primarily to teach you the proper amount of rudder to use with the ailerons when you’re going into and coming out of a turn. You do not use the rudder or the ailerons in a turn, you only use them to enter a turn and to come out of a turn. The object on this maneuver is to select a point on the horizon and maintain that point with the nose. You make it keep going in that direction and you will rock the airplane back and forth. First, 30 degrees bank or so on one side and then the other. We want to pay more attention to the attitude of the airplane than the amount of pressure that it takes to do what you want the airplane to do. Always be aware of the attitude of the airplane. I’ll digress a little bit and demonstrate to you, verbally, why that is important. The average person will go up and try to do a steep turn without using the trim tab. And if he has been taught to fly by pressure, he’s going to apply a certain amount of back pressure on the stick to make the airplane stay in a turn. You’re going around in a steep turn; the object is to make a 360 degree circle, come out on the same altitude and on the same heading as when you went in. But invariably, by the time you get half way around, you think you’re pulling back with the same amount of pressure as when you started, but you really aren’t. The old muscles are getting tired and they’re starting to fool you a little bit and if you make a good 360 degree turn without using the trim tab, you’ll have to pay more attention to the attitude of the airplane than you will to the amount of pressure that you think that you are putting on the stick. So that is something to think about. We won’t get into any more of that right now because steep turns won’t come to us for a few more hours yet. So, something that you want to give a lot of serious thought to is making the attitude of the airplane behave the way you want it to. Because this is what we are going to be harping at you, teaching you, hollering at you, telling you and whatever, every minute some instructor or check pilot is riding with you. He is going to be concerned with and is going to make you aware of the attitude of the airplane. I might also mention that the attitude of the cadet is also important. But this is the way it is done and please bear it in mind.

After we get through practicing the coordination exercise, I may just level off and fly a little straight and level and let you try your hand at it. This first indoctrination flight is an hour. All of your flights are going to be an hour, and when I say an hour it usually means 58 to 62 minutes, maybe a minute or two one way or the other. But generally speaking they will be about an hour. So we’ll do a little straight and level flying and I will turn the airplane over to you and let you have the feel of it. You can kind of sit back and relax and look around a little bit and concentrate on where you are, being aware of where the field is, where home base is. Because no matter what goes on in the meantime, you always want to go back to home base. So that’s about it for our first hour and as we have a schedule, we’ll take the first cadet and get under way. 


Now that our first hour is over, we’ll have a post-flight critique. That’s a get-together where we just kind of sit down and go over the things that we’ve done, what was done right and what was done wrong and any questions that you may have to ask. If there are any problems that are cropping up into the picture here, we’ll just try to iron them out. When we get through with that we’ll dismiss and see you tomorrow. 

2nd HOUR

For hour number two we’ll have a preflight critique. There again I showed you on our indoctrination flight, S-turns across a road, discussed before we flew, climbs and glides, demonstrated those to you, and coordination exercise. So we’ll go out there and I’ll make the take-off and as soon as we get out of the traffic pattern, I’ll let you make the climb out. I want you to level off at 1000 feet and I’ll give you a heading to go over into an area where we’ll do the S-turns across a road. Bear in mind that in the climbs that the throttle should be in the climb position and that the angle of bank should be where I showed you. The bottom wing that’s high – where the interplane struts attach to the wing – that should be where the horizon goes through. I don’t want any steeper turn than that and yet we need to keep clearing the area because we’re looking out for traffic. Both above, below and ahead of us and all around. When we get over into the assigned practice area, we’ll glide down from 1000 feet to 500 feet, level off and go into S-turns a-cross a road. When we get through with that I’ll give you the high sign to climb back up to 1000 feet and we’ll do some coordination exercise. We’ll go over the discussion of the coordination exercise again that we had yesterday where we use the rudder to compensate for tendency of the airplane to twist when you put the aileron down, The down aileron has more drag than the up aileron, this tends to cause the airplane to veer off to that side. Whereas you actually are going to turn the other way, so you’ve got to use right rudder and right aileron at the same time to cause the airplane to roll without wanting to veer off to the left. As I said before, we use the rudder and the aileron to go into the turn and we use it to come out of the turn. But we do not use it in the turn. So, if there are any questions on that let’s have them now. Otherwise, we’ll get under way.

We’ll spend the second and third hours doing essentially this same program. On the fourth hour we’ll work on any maneuver that is weak or a problem. But when we finish the coordination exercise during the fourth hour, we’ll climb up to 3,500 feet and I’ll demonstrate some stalls to you. Then you can do some stalls. Now we’ll discuss what is expected in the stall. A stall straight ahead, power on, is done with the engine in the cruise power setting. The airplane is brought up into an attitude somewhat above a normal climb position, about 35° to 40º . The nose should be planted there, it doesn’t want to bob around. It should stay right where we see it with reference to the horizon. Now work the stick all the way aft until it hits the stops. The wings should stay level. You use the ailerons to keep the wings level until the airplane stalls and once it stalls, if a wing drops, you use the rudder to pick it up. When the airplane stalls, the nose will abruptly drop. You will also close the throttle and as the nose goes through the horizon, return your stick to the neutral position, As the nose gets down to a glide position, you should ease the throttle in to the climb power setting. As the airspeed picks up to climbing airspeed, again we use 80 mph, you’ll pull the nose gently up to a climbing position. As soon as you establish a climbing attitude and airspeed, you’ll start shallow turns to climb back up to the altitude of 3,500 feet where we began this maneuver and then did some more.

I’ll demonstrate it to you and you can try one, then I’ll talk to you. (we have a gosport) I talk to you, but you don’t have a gosport to talk to me. We can go up and do a few of these until you have an understanding and a feeling of what is expected. Then we’ll make a couple of power off stalls. A power off stall is one in which the throttle is closed and everything else is essentially the same except upon entry the nose is brought up only to a climb position. There again as the nose goes through the horizon after the stall, the backward pressure on the stick is released so that the stick goes back to a neutral position. The nose is allowed to drop to a glide position at which time climb power is gently applied. As we’ve discussed previously, the use of the throttle should be a gentle maneuver. It does not want to be abrupt, an open and closed kind of thing. From the closed position to the open position should take about two, maybe three seconds. You get the throttle in the climb position, you establish climbing airspeed and now you’re working the nose gently back up through the horizon to a climb attitude. You climb back up to 3,500 feet and you’re ready for the next one. After we have acquired an acceptable ability of doing stalls, power on and power off in straight and level, then we’ll do some in a turn. This is a standard turn, standard bank and the only difference is the fact that we’ll let the nose ride high on the horizon, higher than you would normally have it in a climb , and show you what happens when you stall the airplane in a turn.

Incidentally, while I’m thinking about it, all of the fellows that might be interested in reading this or whatever, that are flying Stearmans without the stall strips, all of our airplanes had the stall strips on them. If you’re flying the Stearman without the stall strips, you’ll find that snap maneuvers, like stalls, spins and snap rolls will be quite different from what I describe here. The Stearman really doesn’t want to snap or spin very well without the stall strips. So, if you’redyed-in-the-wool, bound and determined to learn to fly the Stearman on the same 60 hour program that we used on either the British program or the U.S. Army program you very well may want to get a Stearman that has the stall strips on it. Because to do the snap or stall maneuvers, it will do them a lot better. Without the stall strips it doesn’t want to stall out on you as abruptly in a high speed stall or stall in a turn as I’m describing now. It just doesn’t want to give up. And, of course, all the duster boys take them off because you can’t afford to come down the row of trees and expect to turn the corner at the bottom and start pulling out a spray pattern with the stall strips on there. You’ll change the attitude of the airplane, the its path would just be continuous right on into the ground. So anyway, back to the flight program.

We’re now practicing stalls straight ahead and in the turns, both right and left and with and without power. This will take us up through hour number 5. We will also be working on the weak points. When we complete hour number 3, I’ll introduce you to spins. I’ll do one to the left and one to the right. I’ll quickly run over the military’s way of entering a spin right now. When we get ready to spin the airplane it’s the same as a power off stall. We’ll close the throttle and start the spin. Usually I’ll go up to 4,500 feet for spins, you can do them at 3,500 feet, but 4,500 feet gives you a little extra room in case the student is a little slow about getting the nose back up to the horizon after he comes out of the spin, or is slow on stopping the spin. An extra 1000 feet is comfortable to have. Anyway, you clear the area below you to be sure you’re not going to spin down on top of somebody. This means leaning over into a steep turn a few degrees one way and a few directional degrees the other to be sure the area below you is clear.

 Again, I might mention that I am constantly talking to the cadets about looking around for traffic and fields to land in in case of an engine failure. Before any maneuver such as a stall or spin or an aerobatic maneuver you always clear the area underneath you. You never make a descent without being in a turn. To glide straight ahead or make a spin without clearing the area before you execute the maneuver could be disastrous, because bear in mind that we were flying as many as 30 students at once after the solo stage. We were flying 30 in the morning and another 30 in the afternoon and they are around, so you’ve got to watch out for them. Anyway, back to getting ready to spin. We’ll close the throttle with the nose in a level position, pull the nose gently up into a climb attitude with the wings level. I will ease the stick all the way back and about the same time it’ll stall and the nose will start to drop. As soon as it starts to drop, I’ll push in full rudder, whichever direction I want to go. Usually the first spin is done to the left, mainly because it goes into a left spin a little easier than to the right. However, it could be done either way. It just seems to be that everybody has a pattern to go by and that was mine. You push in full left rudder, you’re holding the stick back against the stop and you’re going to continue to hold it there. You don’t want to turn it loose, even just an eighth of an inch. Because if you turn loose of any portion, the airplane will go into a tight spiral. It won’t be a true spin. It’ll lose much more altitude and it’ll go around somewhat faster with higher airspeed and you haven’t really done a spin either. What we require before solo is at least one full turn into the spin and then a recovery. Recovery is affected by neutralizing the stick and applying full opposite rudder. As soon as the airplane breaks, or quits spinning, the rudder comes back to neutral and you add a little back pressure on the stick and start the nose back up to the horizon. It’ll take a half turn or so to quit spinning and as it stops spinning, then you’ll work towards leveling up the wings and starting the nose gently, but firmly, back up, bringing it right on up into a climb position. At  the same time easing in the throttle to a climb setting.

Assuming that the cadet is still showing normal progress, I would ask him to go up and level off at 4,500 feet and demonstrate a spin to me, Should he do this successfully, I’ll ask him to do one in the opposite direction. This will probably be all the spin exposure he will get until he solos. Now we’re about ready to meet for hour number 6 and with our pre-flight critique we will be talking about what he’s weak on and getting ready to start into take-offs and landings. In fact, we’ll spend, probably, hour number 6, the first half of it, working on what he’s weak on. Almost never do you have a student that has no weak points. So this is just SOP. Incidentally, I might mention at this time that you wonder, “Well, what do you do if you get a guy that already knows how to fly?” I think you’ll find that by outlining this training exposure in the syllabus that we went by, it takes 6 or 7 hours to cover the pre-solo maneuvers. Of course, we didn’t run into this on the British program because most of them had never even driven an automobile. Perhaps they had ridden a bicycle and that was about it, but none of them had any exposure to flying. However, on Army primary, we did run into some cadets that had previous flying experience. In fact, I had one student that had over 200 hours. He soloed in 6 1/2 hours. It took that long to indoctrinate into how we wanted things done, not that he couldn’t fly, not that he couldn’t get around this field without damaging the airplane, but we expected a whole lot more of them than that. They’re supposed to be competent when they solo. So, even if a man is experienced, we had a minimum exposure on Army primary that no matter what the man’s previous experience was he was given at least 5 hours before he soloed. Usually it took 6, maybe 7 hours, to go through all the maneuvers and have him be able to do them competently.

Now we’re back on hour 6. We’re working on the weak points and take-offs and landings. I’m going to go through the procedure of explaining a take-off and then later I’ll explain a landing. Then we’ll go out and try to do some take-off s and landings. You’ve read your books and all, but to refresh your memory, this is what I expect on a take-off. After the engine is warmed up and you’ve taxied out and checked the mags and you’re ready to go, you get lined up. You’re sitting back in the cockpit, being able to observe out either side of the windshield, not through or over the front at this time because the nose is in the way. You’re looking out each side with, roughly the same 30º angle of vision and roughly with the same amount of time spent on each side. You’re not going to get “glued” to one side or the other. You are going to observe out of both sides, alternately. As you line up you advance the throttle, ease the throttle in taking several seconds to get the throttle open. At this time you’re using your rudder to maintain a straight path. You’re not letting the nose wobble around and bring it back to the point to where you are trying to maintain it. You put it on the point and you maintain it there. And you maintain it there by using the amount of rudder necessary to do so. And as I said before, a little bit of rudder used soon is worth a whole lot more than a lot of rudder used late. The throttle is now open and you have a little, slight forward pressure on the stick to ease the tail up. You let the nose come down to the climb position. Once it reaches the climb position, you maintain that, as far as the up-and-down position goes. You’re main

taining it directionally with the rudder; you’re maintaining it in that climb position with the elevators and you have the ailerons in neutral so that when it becomes airborne your airplane won’t tip up on a wing. You leave this “nose picture” that you’re looking at there, just like that until the airplane just takes off all by itself. You do not pull it off, or swear it off, or cuss it off, or anything else. You just leave it right there. And if you have the right picture in front of you with the nose, maintaining it, with the right throttle setting, the airplane will just take-off by itself. Once it breaks ground and you begin seeing the ground “give way” from you, you bring the throttle back to the climb position – that is just back a little bit on the quadrant. All you’re really doing is de-riching the carburetor, because you’ve got an enriching valve that opens when the throttle is fully wide open, You’ll probably notice no drop in rpms. By the time all this happens, you will have eased up to a point of maintaining about 80 mph and you just leave everything just like that until you see 300 feet on the altimeter.

When that happens, you ease the nose down to a level position and start a standard rate turn to the left. You make a 90 degree change of direction and then roll the wings back level. You put the nose back up into a climb attitude and you climb to 500 feet. If you’re going to stay in the traffic pattern, you’ll level off, pull back to the cruise position on the throttle and make another 90 degree turn to the left.

You’ll now be going downwind and as you are going downwind, you’re trimming the airplane so that it takes all the load off the elevators. As you pass the end of the field out to your left, you’ll count to 10 or 12. If there is no wind blowing, you may want to cut it in at 12. If there is a lot of wind blowing, maybe you’ll only use 10. But, 10 seconds will take you out about a 1000 feet. That’s about where you want to be. Once you fly this 10 seconds past the end of the field you’ll turn to the left another 90 degree turn. As you’re coming down this base leg, to turn in for final, you’re picking a landing path to execute the landing on. When it gets to a position where it’s roughly 45 degrees out from the nose, the throttle is retarded to the closed position, the nose goes down to the glide position. When I get to where I can turn in and roll out lined up with the landing path, that’s when I’ll make my turn in. This turn may be less than a standard rate turn to allow me to line up with the landing path I have chosen. I am maintaining 80 mph right on down until I cross the fence. When you cross the fence at the edge of the field, you should be between 5 and 15 feet high. If you’re more than 50 feet high, gun it and go a-round again and make a little wider pattern. If you see that you’re not going to have 5 to 15 feet, put the throttle right on up to cruise and fly for several seconds, or whatever it’ll take to get you there and then close the throttle and put the nose right back down to a glide position. Don’t put in a little bit of throttle and try to creep in. It’ll destroy your approach pattern and it will ruin your ability in the future to arrange your pattern so that you can make a normal power off approach and landing.

When you cross the fence, ideally 10 feet high and 80 mph, you break the glide. Just bring the nose up just an inch or two. As you start settling on in, you’re watching out either side of the windshield. You’re not looking over the nose any more. You’re looking out 30 degrees, or so, to the left and then to the right, each aide equally. This will automatically help keep the wings level. As you look out to a spot ahead of you far enough to where you can see that grass is grass. You don’t want to see it as a blur. If you see it as a blur, it’s in too close and you can’t judge height and  distance. Yet, you don’t want to look at the far end of the field either, because if you do that, you can’t tell whether you’re 5 or 15 feet off the ground. You want to pull your range of vision in as close as possible without getting it into an area of being blurred. If you’ll do that, then you can tell within a few inches of how far off the ground you are. Maintain this observation, back and forth, one side to the other, and continue to hold the airplane off, about two or three feet off the ground. Work the airplane into a three point attitude.

Once it’s in a three point position, you should not be able to count over one, two, three without being on the ground. If you count up to three and haven’t touched the ground, firewall it full throttle and go around because you have leveled off too high. If you drop the airplane in 20 or 30 feet, it’s not only going shake some of your teeth out, it’s going to do some damage to the airplane. If you have a tendency to level off too high, you’re probably looking out too far ahead of the airplane. Needless to say, if I’m with you, I won’t allow you to continue a situation where you have leveled off too high and are trying to maintain that position. If you fly into the ground before you get into a three point attitude, we won’t discuss at this time how to effect a recovery. But I would just say gun it and go around, later on in your next hour or two we’ll get getting into some of the recovery techniques, but for this first exposure, we won’t get in to it. OK, let’s go out and do some take-offs and landings. After completing this, we will have the post flight critique as usual.

Hour number 7 usually will be just takeoffs and landings, staying in the traffic pattern. At hour number 8, the cadet. should be getting close to solo. There a-gain, most of the techniques that were previously described will be reviewed. The only additional thing that will be taught is how to recover from a bad landing. If a cadet hasn’t made any bad landings, I’ll go out and demonstrate to him flying into the ground and making a recovery from it. Actually, this only constitutes the fact that you fly into the ground, you bounce and you bring the nose up and you just maintain the airplane in a normal three point attitude, keeping the wings level. If it isn’t a bad bounce, just add a little bit of throttle and then let it settle right back in, in a three point position. If it’s a bad bounce, gun it and go around again. Because if it’s a really bad bounce, you’ve got enough airspeed to make a go around without any problem. If you gun it and go around, of course, the main thing is to get the nose back down on the horizon with the power up in the wide open position. As you are able to get your climbing airspeed, you of course, have the nose in a climbing attitude and then pull the throttle back to the climb position and make your go around. 

Most of the accidents that we had with the Stearman program weren’t in learning how to fly the airplane without ground looping  it, they usually were where the cadet did not use his head or got shook up because a chain of events happened. Like I previously mentioned, we had a situation, about July 1, 1941, that we tore up seven Stearmans in one day. Kind of a chain reaction deal. One guy started it and then everybody else got really shook up. This is just a psychological thing and these things happen on training programs. The best way to avoid them, of course, is to get the people and just talk with them, even ride with them, and have a little confidence speak there.

Speaking about riding with them, even when these cadets were up in the 30 and 40 hour stage, usually until they get about 40 hours, we didn’t just go out and turn them loose. We rode around the field with them and started the day off with them. “Hey, you’re doing all right, have at it.” That sort of thing. I think this builds a lot of confidence in a man. If he comes out there and he hasn’t seen you in a few days like if you were flying the morning shift and the last flight was Friday morning and you don’t see him again until the following Monday afternoon, and he just comes out and you say, ‘Hey, there’s Number 63 out there, go out and do such and such.” Usually, he feels a little let down because although he’s been soloing, he really isn’t on his own. I mean you’re doing a lot, of thinking for him and you’re keeping him out of a lot of trouble. There’s a lot of things to learn and a lot of things to remember. If you expect the cadet to just jump in there and do it on his own, “it don’t usually work out that way.”

Now we’re going into the after solo” area up to the 15 hour stage. It’ s usually in this area, unless a man was really hopeless in the first 4 or 5 hours, that the man gets sent up for elimination. Or, if he is kind of borderline, you may request a change of instructors. Lots of times there’s a psychological barrier between two personalities and sometimes just a change of instructors will eliminate this. Otherwise, most of your flying between the 8 hour solo and the 15 hour progress check, about the only thing you’ll be doing is going back over all the maneuvers we’ve previously described and I’ll be introducing you into crosswind take-offs and landings, bearing in mind, that the only time you’ll ever actually force the airplane to make a take-off or break ground is in a crosswind. That’s when you’ll leave the airplane on the ground, bring the nose down into a level position, rather than a climb position, and when you reach climbing airspeed you make a definite maneuver to bring the nose up to a climb position. You actually make a definite take-off. It isn’t anything really abrupt or violent, it’s just that it is a definite maneuver. Crosswind landings, of course, can become a little bit more involved and I might mention that we were always flying off sod fields. So we could get away with a lot more of a crosswind either on a landing or a take-off, especially the landing, than you will flying off the hardtop. Because when you land on the grass, there’s a certain amount of sliding around that can be done and this, of course, will absorb a lot of error in compensating for your drift, such as in a crosswind landing. Normally, we would teach crosswind landings that you would do with level wings and enough drift to hold your flight path where you wanted. Then just before you touched down, you swing the nose around with the rudder enough to knock the drift down to as close to zero as possible and just before you would three point it, you’d just push the nose down a bit to make a wheel landing and then apply enough rudder to keep it going straight. Of course, by this time the tail should come right on down and then you can taxi on in. We had a standing rule for crosswinds, or winds in general if the wind was over 30 mph, we didn’t fly. If the wind was over 10 mph with a 90 degree crosswind, we didn’t fly. If you wanted to set up a little graph of your own, you could set up a chart with the vertical shaft showing up to 90 degrees and the horizontal shaft running out to one side showing 30 mph. You could make your own graph, just showing that at 90 degrees 10 mph would be a dot and at no degrees of drift, 30 mph would be another dot. You just connect these two dots and then any drift angle between that, you could see how much wind would normally be acceptable.  Anyway, that’s about it up to the 15 hour progress check. This, as I said before, was the curriculum for the British program and there’s probably a lot of things I’m running over lightly or maybe even omitting completely because I’m doing this by memory and this was back in the early part of ‘41 when I was on this British program.

From the 15 hour to the 20 hour mark was half dual and half solo and concentrated on the weak points. From the 15 to 25 hour mark again was half solo and half dual. I’m of course figuring that the cadet is making normal progress and made a good general passing grade on his 15 hour progress check. The dual will be, of course, on any weak points, but also mostly on air work. By air work, I mean that we are going to go back over stalls and spins and he’ll be introduced to steep turns. A steep turn is of course a 360 degree turn with the bottom center section strut being parallel to the horizon. You might also find, especially on a hot day, if your tank is full of fuel and you’ve got a good-sized student and yourself, that you may have to use the climb throttle setting rather than cruise. Anyway, that’s about it. You’ll be doing some air work and sharpening up on your stalls and spins, steep turns, climbs, glides and coordination exercises. It doesn’t hurt to do a little coordination exercise a minute or two every time you make a flight.

After he passes his 25 hour mark, we’ll be introducing him to aerobatics. The first maneuver will be a loop, that being a very easy maneuver and it’s a good confidence building maneuver. There again I’ll describe that as we tell the cadet about it. We’re going to use 4,500 feet as the starting altitude for all of our aerobatic maneuvers. So you’ll make your normal take-off, climb out, traffic pattern exit and then climb up to 4,500 feet and level off. Clear the area underneath you and then in level flight I’ll advance the throttle in-to climb position. I’ll put the nose down into a glide attitude and let the airspeed build up to about 120 mph. There again I am using the trim tab on this to relieve the excessive control pressure on the stick. Then I’ll pull up at a steady rate, keeping the wings level. I’ll just pull the nose right on up and around, The idea, of course, is that we want to maintain a fairly constant rate of attitude change right on around. This’ll make a pretty, round loop. As I throw my head back and see the horizon come at me from the other side, I’ll start easing the throttle closed because by this time I’m going downhill Then as I come right on around, I’ll bring the nose right on up to a climb position and as I get to this position I’ll ease the throttle back into the climb position and start picking up my climb again to go back up to 4,500 feet. Incidentally, while I’m talking about aerobatics, in my opinion there’s two types of airplanes. There’s an aerobatic airplane and there’s an airplane that will do aerobatics. The Stearman is an airplane that will do aerobatics~ It’s not an aerobatic airplane. An aerobatic airplane, in my opinion, is one that if you’re going along in cruise and decide to do an aerobatic maneuver, all you have to do is advance the throttle and do the maneuver. That isn’t the case with the Stearman. If you don’t put the nose down and build up some airspeed, there’s a lot of things that it won’t do. So, we have to allow for that. After doing a few loops the cadet should be building up his confidence and then I’ll introduce him to snap rolls. A snap roll of course is nothing more than a spin done along a horizontal path. With the stall strips on, the Stearman does a really nice snap roll. It is best done at about 80 to 85 mph. High speed snaps are hard on the airplane. Some of these air show guys doing vertical triple snaps and all that kind of stuff – it’s hard on the airplane and hard on the body. Personally, normal aerobatics I enjoy, the far-out type, I think is ridiculous. But anyway, I won’t go into that. We’re learning to fly a Stearman. To enter the snap roll I’ll level off at 4,500 feet in a normal cruise position with a cruise throttle setting. I’ll bring the nose up to a climb attitude and then abruptly put in full rudder and backward stick and aileron in the direction I want to go. And – around she goes. The object is to make a 360 degree turn, roll out on course with the wings level. Both the loop and the snap roll are easy maneuvers.

We’ll work on this for the rest of this hour and as we get up into the second and third hours I’ll start getting into lazy 8’s, chandelles, and slow rolls. I might also mention too, that the loop, snap roll, lazy 8, chandelle and the slow roll were the complete repertoire of our aerobatic maneuvers. So this is what I’m going to discuss. The lazy 8, I think, is one of the finest training maneuvers. When you get far enough along in an airplane to be able to properly do a lazy 8, it teaches you control movements and feel under varying attitudes and airspeeds that no other maneuver can touch. As far as a chandelle is concerned, it really isn’t all that great a maneuver. It’s just a matter of a certain amount of practice. Almost anybody can do a decent chandelle. Anyway, I’ll describe the chandelle and lazy 8. Again, making sure that the cadet understands what he’s trying to do before he does it. Because being able to go out and do a maneuver to an acceptable level of proficiency without understanding it is virtually impossible. Or as the physicist would say, it’s not impossible, it’s just highly improbable.

You clear the area below you and then set up at 4, 500 feet in a straight and level position. Advance the throttle to climb position and lower the nose to a glide attitude until you reach 110 mph. I’ll lean over into a shallow bank of about 10 -12 degrees and by this time the airspeed has built up to about 115 mph. I’ll ease straight back on the elevators and as the nose comes up through the horizon, you’ll start to change direction, As I reach the 90 degree position, the 90 degree position being the change of direction of the turn, the wings should also be 90 degrees to the horizon and the nose, up until this time, is continuing to climb to about 30 – 35 degrees above the horizon. But from the 90 degree change-of-direction position to the 180 degree change-of-direction position the nose now will be going back down and the wings will be going back towards level. If the maneuver is done properly, when I roll out of the turn the airplane will have made a 180 degree change of direction, the wings will be level, the nose will be in a climbing attitude and the airspeed will be just a mph or two above a stall. That’s the chandelle,

The lazy 8 is a little more complex than that. It’s started in the same way – 4,500 feet, nose down in a glide attitude and the throttle is advanced to the climb position. We’re also going to change direction 180 degrees, but we’re going to do 180 degrees one way and then we’ll come back and do it the other way. I mean by that, if you start out to the left, as the nose comes up through the horizon the wings are level. The wings start to bank as the nose continues to climb. As the nose continues to climb to the 45 degree position, the wings at this time are in about a 45 or 50 degree bank and the nose will start to go back down through the horizon after being 30 -35 degrees high. So that when I reach the 90 degree position change-of-direction the  wings are vertical (90 degrees to the horizon), the nose will go through the horizon at this same point and the bank will start to shallow out and the nose will stop dropping below the horizon as I reach the 135 degree position. As I reach the 135 degree position, the bank should be approximately 45 degrees and the nose now is on the way back up to the horizon. As I reach the horizon, the wings should be level when the nose goes through the horizon on the way up and the change of direction should be, at this time, 180 degrees. As I come up through the horizon with the nose, the bank will start to Increase to the right. The previous start of this maneuver was to the left. In other words, my nose, going up through the horizon and down through the horizon at the 90 degree position and back up through the horizon at the 180 degree position and back down through the horizon at the 90 degree position and back up through the horizon at the zero degree position. This should be what describes the figure eight. The nose should have the same angle both above and below the horizon. The bank of the wings is level through the zero degree position, vertical through the 90 degree position, level through the 180 degree position and vertical at the 90 degree position and back level again at the zero degree position. The airspeed during these maneuvers down in the bottoms of these dips you’ll probably be running 118 to 125 mph. If you’re running over that, your loops are too wide. As you go across the top and down through the 90 degree position with the nose falling through, you should be 3 to 4 mph above a stall. If you’re stalling before you get there, your loops are too wide. So if your loops are too small, you won’t be able to get all of the angles in, in the prescribed degrees of change-of-direction. So this is what you work towards. And as you work with your student you can point out these things and work with him to iron out where he’s weak and what he’s doing wrong.

When doing slow rolls, whether it’s in a Stearman or any one of a number of other airplanes of this class, meaning primarily that the roll rate is fairly slow, the airplane is a pretty good sized airplane as far as doing that type of aerobatics. So there are a few little things that are different. Most of the present day acrobatic teams are using the Pitts or possibly the Eagle or other various types of little airplanes. They have a really high roll rate and the techniques that you would necessarily have to use on a Stearman wouldn’t apply on these little airplanes. The big problem with the larger airplane that has a slower roll rate is that as you get over into the inverted position, you have to use some opposite rudder to keep the nose pinned on a point. As Duane Cole stated in his book Roll Around A Point, (a point being a place without dimension) that’s exactly what you want to do. You want to plant the nose up there about 3 to 5 degrees above the horizon when you get ready to start and you want it to there and you want it to literally roll a-round a point. As you’re cruising along you clear the area below you to be sure that there is no traffic down there that you’re going to run into should this roll not turn out as expected. And, believe me, they all don’t turn out like you expect them to. In fact, as you get over on your side, either in the entry or the recovery, if you hit a large downdraft you will find that the slow roll is pretty-well ruined and you very well may fall out of it. In straight and level flight you advance the throttle to the climb position and you put the nose down into the glide attitude picking up speed to around 128 -130 mph. When you reach this stage, you ease the nose back up to about a five degree  position above the horizon and that is where you’ll want it to stay throughout the maneuver. You then apply full aileron, say we’re going to make one to the left, usually we start out to the left because left slow rolls seem to be a little easier, they’re going kind of with the airplane’s tendency to want to roll to the left due to the engine torque, so rolls to the left are a little easier. Plus the fact that you have the right hand on the stick and using the ailerons, there, by pushing it over with your arm seems to be more natural than pulling over to the right to go the other way. So we’ll apply full deflection on the ailerons and the ailerons will stay deflected throughout maneuver. At the same time, I’m putting in full aileron, I’m also putting in left rudder in the proper amount to keep the nose from wobbling around

Of course later on, they got into the BT’s and the AT-6’s and the other equipment on from there whether they went into fighters or bombers or whatever, they had a full complement of instruments. While I’m talking about instrument flying, though, I might make mention of the fact that over a period of years I’ve been a check pilot and I’ve also been checked by many pilots. Every six months when you are an airline pilot you have a check ride. Every once in a while you’ll have an unexpected FAA man come up and say, “Hey, I’d like to fly a leg with you.” What he’s really saying is, “I’m going to give you a check ride.” I might mention very basically that if flying at night or flying on instruments or in weather bothers you then airline flying isn’t for you. You’d better figure out something else to do for a living. Because that’s what most of it is. Over a period of years I developed a technique that I used. I’ve taught it and a lot of other people have used it and it works really well. I very emphatically say, “You fly the artificial horizon You fly the horizon, but you’re fully aware of what all of the other instruments are indicating. In other words, when you are airline flying, most of them have gone to what is called the Basic ALPA T. The basic T is that the horizon is right in front of you and the directional gyro is directly below it and the altimeter is just to the right of the horizon and the airspeed is to the left. When you speak of the basic T and you’re on instruments, this is what you fly mainly, these four instruments. You’re aware of the rate of climb and the turn and bank indicator and other things that you may check on, but you actually fly the four main instruments. However, there’s a technique in flying them, That is that you will basically watch and maintain an awareness of and concentrate on the horizon more than all the rest put together. I’ll look at all the other instruments, but whenever I do, it’s always back to the horizon. I don’t use a particular pattern in my scan. If you use a particular pattern over a prolonged period, after about an hour or so you’re going to hypnotize yourself and wonder what’s going on. So, it’s best to break it up and not have any set pattern. If you do that, you’ll find that you can set up there for several hours at a time and be comfortable flying instruments. A lot of times on airline flying, the autopilot is not working, or it’s not working a situation like that happens, sometimes you do have a three or four hour stint. Back In the old prop jobs there were many times that we had 12-14 hour flights. The autopilot usually wasn’t there when you needed it most Anyway, by having a little technique it made it really easy. Of course you had a co-pilot and usually a-bout every two hours you’d swap off and take turns. It makes the day go by pretty well. So anyway, that’s about all. Thought I’d just throw that in for a little evaluation.

That pretty well covers the acrobatic part of it. By this time the cadet will have about 30 hours and be ready for his progress check. That progress check usually will be a tough one. The 15 hour check was usually a 20-30 minute ride unless he came up with a “fail”. He might bring him back in 15 minutes and say, “This cadet needs some more dual on whatever.” But usually it lasted about 20-30 minutes. The 30 hour progress check would usually be a 45 minute or one hour ride and usually was pretty demanding. These progress checks were given either by Stage Commanders which were our own U. S. instructors, or by one of the British overseers. We had Wing Commander Hilton as our overseer at Terrell and he gave a lot of the progress checks at the 30 and 40 hour stage, If he didn’t catch them at 30 hours, he’d try to catch them at 40 hours. I’d say he gave about one third of the final checks at the 60 hour level.

After he gets through with the 30 hour check, we’re now off into the 30 to 35 hour phase. About half solo, half dual. Most of the dual in this area will be on either weak stuff and/or his indoctrination into instrument flying.

Then from 35 to 45 hours was usually mostly solo, Three-fourths or so solo with the emphasis on the weak areas, When he got 45 hours he’d be introduced into night flying. Half of that will be solo. He’d have about five hours of night flying and he’d be expected to night solo. We were using flare pots and he was expected to be decently qualified to ride with at this time. He’d have a 50 hour check which would probably be a night check. Then from 50 to 60 hours, the last stage of his flight training, would again be about three-fourths solo concentrating on his weak points. Then when he got to the 60 hour mark, usually 59 to 61 hours, he’d be given his final check ride. That final check ride was, of course, a tough one. Sometimes it would go for a hour to a hour and a half. It was very unusual for a cadet when he got through with his final check to receive any additional flying time. If he “boo-boos” on one area, it’d just be part of his record. He knew that and he knew what was expected of him. Usually most of them did a jam-up job on the final check ride. By the time they had 60 hours, those boys were good. Our washout rate was usually out of 60 students, we’d have 50-52 that would graduate. Usually you’d find out before they had 15 hours whether they were going to make it or not. Once they settled down and got past the 15 hours, you made good progress with them and they were competent. Of course, they went on from here to fly the BT-13 for 60 hours and then the AT-6 for 60 hours. Both of which were the finest training airplanes there were ever built. It’s unfortunate that some of the present-day pilots train in either Cessna 150’s or Cessna T-37’s or whatever. I think they really miss something, because the basics of really learning to fly were not only built into the syllabus that was set up for these pieces of equipment, but the airplanes themselves were designed to be trainers. They were the best there were, and I think they are the best that still are, After I left this training program I spent better than a year as a test pilot. I then flew for the airlines and I finished my last four years as a Captain on a DC-8.

I’ve ridden with a lot of people over the last 40 years. I can pretty well tell you that people that had their basic initial exposure to some of these good old airplanes learned a lot more in 60 hours than some of these guys that get in this modern stuff and get 600 hours. It is unfortunate. You can teach a guy to fly in a DC-8 if you just stick him in there and keep him out of trouble for a year. But if he ever gets in some unusual situation or condition he won’t know what to do because there’s no room for error. This is, of course, why the training planes were so good. The students could make errors and learn what to do about them and as a result, I think, made just a whole lot better pilots out of them.

That just winds up my coverage on the British primary program So I’ll close by saying happy flying in the world’s best primary trainer that has ever been built and may all your skies be blue and with a tailwind to your destination.

 The End

By |2016-11-13T09:34:03+00:00May 9th, 2001|Flying-Wire|Comments Off on Learning to Fly in a Stearman In 1941, the British Way

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