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Teaching I


remained an Acting Pilot Officer, with that rank’s pay, for the first six months of my service. Thereafter I was a fullblown Pilot Officer, but the single thin stripe on my tunic sleeves and on the shoulders of my battledress was unaltered. What did alter was my daily rate of pay. Acting Pilot Officers were rewarded with eleven shillings and tenpence a day and this rose to the handsome sum of twelve shillings and sixpence when the full rank was confirmed. Happily for the two of us The United Steel Companies Limited decided at the beginning of the War that staff who left for the forces would have their pay made up to what they were earning when they departed. I had been paid at the rate of £430 (it may have been £436) a year, so the United Steels gesture was a welcome one. I no longer had my expense account which, when I was motoring 20,000 miles a year on the Company’s business, brought in about £240 a year, on the basis of expenses of threepence a mile; and this was enough to pay all my motoring costs, including the costs of any private mileage I did, buy a new car each year and still give me a tax-free £70 or so in addition. But on £430 or thereabouts we were quite comfortably off. A 2 oz bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate still cost the same twopence as it had at the end of the First World War. Petrol was still about one shilling and sixpence a gallon. Inflation had as yet not clobbered anyone. So it was as a 622p a day Pilot Officer that I reported to the RAF Central Flying School at Upavon in Wiltshire to be turned into a flying instructor. It was August the 26th 1940. CFS was another permanent Station and I was there for less than four weeks, intensive though these were. There was nothing remarkable about that posting. We flew Oxfords mainly, but there were some hours in the Avro Tutor whose acquaintance I was pleased to renew. The trick about instructing is to learn how to time your patter to what you are demonstrating to a pupil. I can still remember the standardised instructing vocabulary and patter we had to learn by heart. ‘Now we taxi the aircraft to the leeward side of the airfield to a point where we have the maximum take-off run into wind.’ Not many runways in those days! ‘Now you will notice that if I move the control column forward, the nose of the aircraft will fall below the horizon.’ Etc. Etc. I was to jabber away like this for the next three years, and I picked it up pretty quickly with, as I have said, the trick being to make the patter coincide with what the aircraft was actually doing. Years later, that helped me to pass my Institute of Advanced Motorists test. I enjoyed most of the lectures, especially those on the theory of flight given by S/Ldr Kermode, who had written a standard book on it. My old Cranwell CFI, S/Ldr Holmes, was now at Upavon as a Wing Commander and he signed my logbook where my Assessment of Ability was entered as ‘As a Flying Instructor, Average. M.E. Trainers.’ He added a manuscript note: ‘He is keen and should make a useful instructor.’ But he probably did that for all the boys! I had logged


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