BBC 1981 Documentary: 'Fighter Pilot'

Apologies in advance if this is seen as a slight derailing, but it concerns fighter pilots and could be a problem for RAF pilots in the future.
Last week on German TV there was a controversial film and consequently a TV talk show concerning the shooting down of a Lufthansa jet by a Luftwaffe Typhoon. I didn't see all of the film but the bones of it are a story concerning a hi-jacking of a Lufthansa jet with 147 (?) people on board and the terrorists threatening to fly into a football stadium with approx 70,000 people inside. Now the German Supreme Court has already decreed that shooting down civvy jets is not on, the interceptor is supposed to somehow force the airliner off course (WTF?) or put a burst of cannon fire across the airliners nose (even bigger WTF?) The pilot, a maj. Koch had already been ordered not to shoot down the airliner but faced with what was in essence a lose/lose situation he did shoot down the airliner. At the subsequent murder trial the public prosecutor was determined to have Kochs guts for garters and did her best to drive him into a corner. The not guilty verdict came as something of a surprise as the facts were quite clear, but the judge explained at length his decision and that of the lay judges. Even more interesting was the view of the public, 80% of the viewers who were asked said not guilty, this was echoed by results in Austria and Switzerland.
In the TV talk show a theologist hit the nail right on the head when she said that the pilot was not faced with a decision between right and wrong, it was a decision between bad and worse. If killing 147 crew, passengers and terrorists was bad, then letting the airliner crash into the full football stadium was arguably a lot worse.
That's the situation in Germany, but how different would it be in GB if at all?
When people join the RAF to fly, in particular to fly fast jets I doubt that any of them have such things in mind at the time. That comes later.
What puzzles me most about this so-called dilemma is that it is being wrestled with fifteen years after 911. Heather Penney and her CO reached their conclusion quite quickly.
 
Swinderby March 85 and no Cravet. I feel cheated.

I think I experienced the full tradition of being ripped off as a recruit for what little pay we were given, if it wasn't paying the NCO instructors in cash for alledged block damages or stupid blue face flannels (cravats) it was the NAAFI selling us overpriced tins of boot kiwi polish,dusters, brasso steam irons and all other items needed.
 
I think I experienced the full tradition of being ripped off as a recruit for what little pay we were given, if it wasn't paying the NCO instructors in cash for alledged block damages or stupid blue face flannels (cravats) it was the NAAFI selling us overpriced tins of boot kiwi polish,dusters, brasso steam irons and all other items needed.

I could have done with one of those Brasso steam irons - would have saved hours in the evenings.
 

syrup

LE
And another one from the Falklands era. Following Op Corporate one 1(F) Sqn pilot was heard to say "the word re-attack no longer exists in my dictionary, unless it's the next day". Cause of this was the fact that the losses were invariably incurred on the re-attack. On a FRA the enemy tended to be caught by surprise, but the second time around they were ready and waiting. Most pilots are reluctant to return home with bombs, rockets etc that haven't been used on the first attack.
One of the other things in the crew room was a photo album of Corporate. One photo in particular sticks in my mind. Returning from an attack Mark Hare was going like a bat out of hell at low level ( I mean low) he took a photo of an Argie with a manpad, I forget which type, trying to get a bead on him. No chance, like I said he was going like a bat out of hell = warp factor 8+ and low enough to see individual blades of grass, not that he was actually looking at them.

I saw a piece that stated they were down to about 15 feet at one point coming off the attack.
IIRC it stated they'd gone under some wires which I don't even think they'd noticed

Quick wuestion for @ Magic Mushroom.

Given when this was made there was an abundance of aircraft types for pilots to qualify in.
Of the top of my head I can think off Harrier, Jaguar, Buccaneer, Phantom, Tornado and Canberra.
I was always led to believe that the cream went Harrier then single seat, then two seat with Nav, then multi engine etc etc

Is the recruiting pool now not only smaller but are we only recruiting guys that we know will have a good chance make the grade?
In the programme we saw guys streamed onto Canberra and off to be Nav's
Presumably there are still limited Nav slots and slots for guys to go onto Herc's and the such like but the fast jet pool is far smaller than previous
Is the washout rate still as high?

Sorry to interrupt the scarf thread
 
The cravats were an RAF basic training unit thing at the time. I was at Swinderby in 1976 and each flight had a different colour - mine was blue. They were made of towelling.

Thanks to @Magic_Mushroom for putting the series up, Thunderbirds jackets and all.
They were still going strong in '87. .
If I recall they were made by old dears at a local home & we each had to give a small amount from our substantial pay as a donation.
Either that or we were swizzed out of beer tokens by the staff.
To be fair the Sergeant in our flight brought in a massive pile of jazz mags for the smoke room as he was visibly appalled at our lack of w2nk literature. He had a real air of concern about it.
 
...That's the situation in Germany, but how different would it be in GB if at all?
When people join the RAF to fly, in particular to fly fast jets I doubt that any of them have such things in mind at the time...

The UK response to a 9/11 style attack is well defined, well rehearsed and credible. Enough said.

...Quick wuestion for @ Magic Mushroom.

Given when this was made there was an abundance of aircraft types for pilots to qualify in.
Of the top of my head I can think off Harrier, Jaguar, Buccaneer, Phantom, Tornado and Canberra.
I was always led to believe that the cream went Harrier then single seat, then two seat with Nav, then multi engine etc etc...

When Fighter Pilot was made 1979-81, students would conduct BFTS on the JP before streaming onto advanced training on Group 1: Fast Jet (FJ), Group 2: Multi Engine (ME) or Group 3: Rotary Wing (RW).

Students progressing to FJ would complete Valley where a very small number of exceptionally gifted students were 'creamed off' and sent to become First Tourist Qualified Flying Instructors (QFI). After the requisite Central Flying School (CFS) course, Creamies would complete a QFI tour on either JPs or the Hawk before Tactical Weapons Unit (TWU) and progressing to an operational type. I suspect that Geoff Glover was a creamy when shown in the series instructing at Valley.

The majority of Valley graduates however would go straight to TWU at Brawdy or Chivenor where they'd learn the fundamentals of Air Defence (AD) and low level Strike/Attack in a common phase. Studes would then be streamed either AD or strike/attack largely on their own preferences and complete the remaining TWU hours on sortie profiles optimised for those roles; Basic Fighter Manoeuvres, air-air gunnery and GCI work for AD and the strike/attack chaps would spend their time at Pembrey range strafing and dropping practise bombs as well as flying low level Simulated Attack Profiles. When the 'Fighter Pilot' students completed TWU in 1981, AD graduates could go to Lightning and F-4 while strike attack guys had Harrier, Jaguar and Bucc; the initial Tornado GR1 courses were not yet available to ab initios as the instructor cadre was still building up.

Very broadly speaking, the strongest students would go single seat (Lightning (AD), Harrier and Jag (strike/attack)). However, that's a huge generalisation, particularly for AD after the final Lightning OCU in 1987 when twin seat (F-4 and Tornado F3) became the only option. Moreover, the Harrier and, in later years the Jag, were smaller fleets so single-seat strike/attack slots were not always available for the top TWU students. Indeed, while many creamies assumed they'd be allowed to go single seat, they were also sometimes pushed to twin-seat types to maintain a cadre of young QFIs in each force (useful for later supervision, STANEVAL and OCU tours). Therefore, it is not necessarily a given that a Bucc or GR1 pilot performed less strongly at TWU than a Harrier mate.

Indeed, it is not even safe to assume that a ME or RW pilot didn't merit a FJ recommendation as sometimes there were virtually no FJ slots available. Similarly, I knew a pilot on E-3Ds who was chopped early on at Valley and went ME while an 8 Sqn nav had been chopped much later on the same Hawk course only to find there were no ME or RW pilot cross-overs remaining; you can imagine the resulting banter when they met on 8 Sqn again! Meanwhile, the Canberra was increasingly reserved for those who didn't quite make the grade at TWU or even as late as OCUs but were considered likely to do so after a tour gaining experience.

RN fixed wing pilots were another anomaly in that they followed the same RAF syllabus but single-seat was their only option. In cases where they failed to get a single seat recommendation they were forced to go RW or do a tour with the RAF on GR1s or F3s to build experience and capacity before giving SHAR a go (although many tended to transfer to the RAF at that stage!).

...Is the recruiting pool now not only smaller but are we only recruiting guys that we know will have a good chance make the grade?
In the programme we saw guys streamed onto Canberra and off to be Nav's
Presumably there are still limited Nav slots and slots for guys to go onto Herc's and the such like but the fast jet pool is far smaller than previous
Is the washout rate still as high?...

The number of student aircrew is a fraction of what it was 35 years ago. However, the RAF is never short of high quality applicants for pilot so we can apply a correspondingly high selection criteria based on aptitude scores and those personal qualities which are seen during attendance at Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) at Cranwell.

Students are now normally streamed FJ, ME or RW during EFT before progressing to BFJT on Tucanos at Linton, King Airs at Cranwell, or Squirrel and Griffon at Shawbury. The FJ guys will progress to Valley after Tucanos to fly the Hawk T2 where all weapons training is conducted synthetically. This course is heavily orientated towards preparing pilots for modern, single seat aircraft to the extent that the introduction of the T2 has allowed the Typhoon OCU to be reduced by approximately a third. Indeed, a Typhoon pilot's first trip in the jet will be in a single seat aircraft. Moreover, even experienced FJ WSOs grudgingly admit that modern aircraft such as the Typhoon and Lightning have a much lower cockpit workload than 'traditional' single seaters due to the way data is presented and the systems are automated. Therefore, the fact that the RAF will be a wholly single seat FJ force by 2019 is irrelevant. In summary, I suspect that the failure rate is now lower, partly because the smaller numbers required means that we can take only those with the best aptitude but also because training methods have improved.

Nevertheless, pilots still do get chopped from FJ and - where slots are available - can be re-streamed to ME or RW; which will depend on the individual's aptitude and Service needs. RPAS are another option and some pilots have been posted to Reaper having been chopped from Valley or even on OCUs and I suspect that this may become analogous to the Canberra option of 30 years ago: complete a tour on Reaper to gain airmanship and experience before returning to FJ. Equally, the number of 'conventional' pilots on our RPAS sqns should decrease as Protector is introduced and the new RPAS(P) branch becomes established.

WSO is technically not an option (although small numbers of NCA have been commissioned as WSOs to trickle feed the ISR fleets) at the moment for chopped pilots since nav training ceased in 2011 following SDSR10 so some have transferred to RPAS(P). However, WSO recruiting will recommence next year due to the need for P-8 and Protector aircrew.

Regards,
MM
 
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in Episode 7 AFT - that instructor interviewed , his grand niece is acquaintance of mine she is by trade a jeweller and an excellent avaition photographer.

Opening theme to FP should sound a tad more rock music like considering it was entering the 80s. However it almost reminds me of the opening credits music score of Sailor.

Cheers

That is my soundtrack of celebration . ..
 
Recent interview here with Martin Oxborrow, the guy from the series who went to Hercules, some interesting background on the series. John Mcrea the Bucc guy was still around at Lossie in the late eighties as I recall. Last heard of flying Tutors according to a mate still sterving.

 
Matter of fact now. Typhoon would shoot down hijacked airliner if it posed a threat to lives on the ground. Eg a 9/11 style situation. Typhoons permanently on QRA for just such situation. Where the damaged airliner would hit would be a moot point….ask CAS what his instructions to his fighter pilots are…….and what would the ground based air defence missiles guarding the Olympics have done….?
 
Saw the TV series, bought the t-shirt!
Actually, apparently I'd decided to be a fighter pilot at the age of 3. Many guys had.
I got my wings in '86, then Brawdy, and on to the front line. I flew with one guy from the main 6, and with several of the background guys, and was taught by several of the same instructors. I thought the series relatively accurate.
I've seen a bunch of questions so far in the thread, but won't drone on for hours. If anyone wants to repeat them, I'll answer if I can.
One thing though, we'd all worked out in the crewrooms long before 9/11 (early 80s, maybe earlier. I think Munich was the starting point for the thinking, according to the old hands) that a terrorist hijack flown into a football stadium would be the worst, and we'd all decided we'd shoot it down.
 
It was watching this that made me decide to join the RAF and be a fighter pilot, went to the recruiting office in Sheffield, talked it all through, was totally determined to join. Sadly having jam jar glasses and shit O'level results was against my plan. Undeterred I joined the TA and drove Bedfords, they were a bit slower but I still got the pitch, roll and yaw, so it wasn't all bad.
HeliBedfords surely?
 

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