Cover of RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book

Cover of RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book

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Cover of RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book

Here we see the RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book of Ian Walters, who trained in Canada, before then being trained to serve as an instructor.

Donated by Mitchell Walters , son of Ian

In 1942, the Air Ministry made the decision to compile a list from records of the names of pilots who had lost their lives as a result of the fighting during the Battle of Britain [notes 1] for the purpose of building a national memorial. This became the Battle of Britain Chapel at Westminster Abbey, which was unveiled by King George VI on 10 July 1947. [4] The Roll of Honour within the Chapel contains the names of 1,497 pilots and aircrew killed or mortally wounded during the Battle. [5]

Nothing was done officially, however, to define the qualifications for the classification of a Battle of Britain airman until 9 November 1960. AMO N850, published by the Air Ministry, stated for the first time the requirements for the awarding of the Battle of Britain Star, and listed the 71 units which were deemed to have been under the control of RAF Fighter Command. [6]

In 1955 Flt Lt John Holloway, a serving RAF officer, began a personal challenge to compile a complete list of "The Few". After fourteen years of research Flt Lt Holloway had 2,946 names on the list. Of these airmen, 537 were killed during the Battle or later died of wounds received.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, founded by Geoffrey Page, raised funds for the construction of the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne near Folkestone in Kent. The Memorial, unveiled by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 9 July 1993, shares the site with the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall on which a complete list of "The Few" is engraved. [7]

More recently, the Battle of Britain Monument on the Victoria Embankment in London was unveiled on 18 September 2005 by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The idea for the monument was conceived by the Battle of Britain Historical Society which then set about raising funds for its construction. The outside of the monument is lined with bronze plaques listing all the Allied airmen who took part in the Battle. [8]

Cover of RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book - History

From the story of:

The Royal Canadian Air Force played a vital role in the Second World War, providing thousands of air personnel, ground crew, and aircraft to all theatres. During the Korean War, No. 426 “Thunderbird” Squadron undertook an immense airlift of supplies to United Nations forces and 22 Canadian pilots flew with American fighter units, engaging in the first jet combat actions.

John Scammell and fellow crew members of a crashed Lancaster bomber aircraft in .

Bob Hayes, Pearle's husband was a Typhoon pilot. This photo was taken in July 19 .

Townsend's Certificate of Service in the R.C.A.F. from November, 1942 to Februa .

Early March, 1944 at RAF Station in Upwood. The crew of the ill-fated Lancaste .

P/O Murray Stewart in the mid-upper turret of an Avro Lancaster B.II aircraft o .

Aircrew and groundcrew of No. 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF, with Avro Lancaster B .

Richard Sellen (Left) and his aircrew in front of aircraft.

Photograph of Richard Sellen with his aircrew from the rear of the aircraft.

Julia Boyd in the cockpit shortly before flying as a passenger on a Harvard trai .

Julia Boyd demonstrating the flightsuit worn by pilots and passengers of the Har .

Julia Boyd wearing an oversized flightsuit in front of a Harvard training aircra .

Maintenance crew in hangar with a Hawker Hurricane aircraft of No. 401 (Ram) Squ .

Flight Lieutenant Alexander Hunter next to his Spitfire aircraft. Westhampnett, .

An Avro Lancaster bomber from 405 Squadron, similar to the one that George McKie .

Photo of the Anson Aircraft taken in Fingal, Ontario.

The four-engines Avro Lancaster bomber aircraft. William Millard completed a 30 .

Art Butler posing in his Halifax bomber cockpit. Yorkshire, England, 1943.

Alex Campbell at the controls of an Airspeed Oxford training aircraft.

Alex Campbell at the controls of an Airspeed Oxford training aircraft.

Alex Campbell and Bomb Aimer Chapman in their Lancaster bomber in 1944.

De Havilland Tiger Moth training aircraft. No. 19 Elementary Flying Training Sch .

Edison Trott and his wife Joyce on their wedding day, 1943.

Arthur Franklin's RCAF uniform jacket with Observer's Wings and service medal ri .

The 60s: Flying Tiger makes its mark on the airfreight world

Canadair CL-44
Early in 1961, the first of the Canadair CL-44 all-cargo aircraft joined the flying Tiger Fleet.

The “Swingtails” were so nicknamed because their tails literally swung away from the aircraft for loading.

The CL-44s moved Tigers into leadership as the world’s largest freight and contract airline.

In 1962 Flying Tigers received its first Permanent Certificate from the CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board).

Also in 1962, the company initiated the first coordinated combination of sea and air transportation later to become known as SeaTiger.

In 1963, Air Cargo Operations moved back to the Los Angeles International Airport.

In 1964, the company graduated its first class of flight attendants.

That same year, ground-breaking ceremonies took place for the company’s World Headquarters at Los Angeles International Airport.

In 1965, the company received two Boeing 707-320C freighters and became part of the jet age.

The Flying Tigers Flight Training Center opened in 1968 at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The Flying Tigers Boeing 707 POLECAT established speed and distance records on its pole-to-pole flight around the world.

On March 6, 1967, Flying Tigers’ first DC8-63F aircraft arrived.

A Tough, If Not Impossible, Situation

Obviously, this is a tough and very unique situation. Most, if not all of us, would have a hard time identifying the issues with this aircraft.

Fortunately most of the time, maintenance issues aren't this complex. It's often a missed annual inspection, or missed 100 hour inspection that's the problem. And a quick check of the aircraft logbook before your flight can tip you off if there's a problem.

If it's an airplane you've never flown, especially from an FBO you're unfamiliar with, make sure to review the maintenance records for the airplane. Be polite, but don't feel bad about asking to see the aircraft logbook. You're responsible for determining that the aircraft is ready to fly, and checking the logbook is a part of it.

If you find discrepancies, bring them up to the maintenance department (in a nice way), and don't fly the plane before corrections can be made.

If you haven't already, review FAR Part 91, Subpart E to reference all of the inspections and logbook entires that are required prior to flight.

Spending those few extra minutes before the flight can prevent some major headaches down the road.

Become a better pilot.
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Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at [email protected], and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

10 All-Time Great Pilots

WHEN WE ASSEMBLED THE FOLLOWING LISTS OF GREAT PILOTS (and the list of milestone flights that follows), we faced the same dilemma that Von Hardesty, a National Air and Space Museum aeronautics curator, faced as author of Great Aviators and Epic Flights (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 2003). "If you mention Jean Mermoz," Hardesty writes in the introduction, "Why not Henry Guillaumet, who crashed and survived a six-day ordeal in the Andes? If you cover the crossing of the English Channel by Louis Blériot, why not the transcontinental aerial trek of Cal Rodgers? When the chapter outline was shown to one curator, he remarked, 'The problem is who to omit!' Such an observation genuinely haunted all of us who designed and worked on this book."

1. James H. Doolittle

At age 15, Doolittle built a glider, jumped off a cliff, and crashed. Undaunted, he hauled the pieces home, stuck them back together, and returned to the cliff. After his second plunge, there was nothing left to salvage. In 1922, Lieutenant Doolittle made a solo crossing of the continental United States in a de Havilland DH-4 in under 24 hours. The Army sent him back to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where in 1925 he earned a doctorate in aeronautical engineering. Two years later, he climbed to 10,000 feet in a Curtiss Hawk, pushed the stick forward until he saw red (negative Gs make blood pool in the head), and performed the first outside loop. In 1929, aided by Paul Kollsman’s altimeter and Elmer Sperry’s artificial horizon and directional gyro, he flew from takeoff to landing while referring only to instruments. “Aviation has perhaps taken its greatest single step in safety,” declared the New York Times.

He next took up air racing and collected the major trophies: the Schneider in 1925 with a Curtiss seaplane, the Bendix in 1931 with the Laird Super Solution, and the Thompson in 1932 in one of the treacherous Gee Bees, when he also set the world’s landplane speed record. With this triumph, he observed: “I have yet to hear of anyone engaged in this work dying of old age,” and retired from racing.

In 1942 Doolittle was sent off to train crews for a mysterious mission. He ended up leading the entire effort. On April 18, 1942, 15 North American B-25s staggered off a carrier and bombed Tokyo. Most ditched off the Chinese coast or crashed other crew members had bailed out, including Doolittle. Though he was crushed by what he called his “failure,” Doolittle was awarded the title Brigadier General and a Congressional Medal of Honor, which, he confided to General Henry “Hap” Arnold, he would spend the rest of his life earning.

2. Noel Wien

Thanks to Noel Wien, Alaska has a higher ratio of aircraft and pilots to residents than any other state. In the 1920s, almost single-handedly, Wien introduced the airplane to Alaska, and over some 50 years, aircraft became virtually the primary mode of transport in the vast and thinly populated state, which is twice the size of Texas and infinitely less hospitable in climate and geography.

Wien, a native of Minnesota, arrived in Anchorage in June 1924 at age 25 with his first aircraft, an open-cockpit Standard J-1 biplane. Being the only flier in Alaska that summer and the next, and with little competition for a number of years thereafter, just about every flight he made was a first, starting with a flight from Anchorage over the Alaskan Range to Fairbanks. Wien was the first in Alaska and Canada to fly north of the Arctic Circle, and made the first commercial flight between Fairbanks and Nome. He was first to fly the Arctic Coast commercially, the first to fly from North America to Siberia via the Bering Strait, and ultimately the first to fly a year-round service, throughout the vicious winters. All this with sketchy maps, no radio, and virtually no paved landing strips.

Wien got so good, writes author Ira Harkey in Pioneer Bush Pilot: The Story of Noel Wien, he could land the Standard in a mere 300 feet. Surveyor Sam O. White said: “I don’t belive there was ever anyone around here who could get everything out of an aiplane like Noel Wien did. It was like the wings were attached to his own shoulders.”

Wien’s flights broke other records as well. In 1927 he noted, “the last boat leaving in October didn’t mean isolation from the States until the first boat next June. For the first time ever, Nome got mail and fresh foods for Thanksgiving. Everybody looked forward to getting Christmas mail and foods, but they were disappointed—I was down on a lake in a blizzard Christmas Day.”

Wien flew everything and everybody to everywhere: bodies to burial sites, tourists to stunning views, gold dust from prospectors to market, sick folks to hospitals, trappers and dogs to hunting grounds. He lost an eye to infection in 1946, but he was able to hold on to his medical certificate and continued flying commercially until 1955. Wien stopped counting flight hours at 11,600.

3. Robert A. Hoover

After his Spitfire was shot down by a Focke-Wulf 190 over the Mediterranean in 1944, Hoover was captured and spent 16 months in the Stalag Luft 1 prison in Barth, Germany. He eventually escaped, appropriated an Fw 190 (which, of course, he had never piloted), and flew to safety in Holland. After the war Hoover signed up to serve as an Army Air Forces test pilot, flying captured German and Japanese aircraft. He became buddies with Chuck Yeager Hoover was Yeager’s backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program, and he flew chase in a Lockheed P-80 when Yeager first exceeded Mach 1.

Hoover moved on to North American Aviation, where he testflew the T-28 Trojan, FJ-2 Fury, AJ-1 Savage, F-86 Sabre, and F-100 Super Sabre, and in the mid-1950s he began flying North American aircraft, both civil and military, at airshows. Jimmy Doolittle called Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man who ever lived.”

Hoover is best known for the “energy management” routine he flew in a Shrike Commander, a twin-engine business aircraft. This fluid demonstration ends with Hoover shutting down both engines and executing a loop and an eight-point hesitation slow roll as he heads back to the runway. He touches down on one tire, then the other, and coasts precisely to the runway center.

Despite the numerous awards accorded him, Hoover remains humble enough to laugh at himself. He notes in his autobiography, Forever Flying, that in the 1950s, after showing off his Bugatti racer to the neighborhood kids, he asked, “Well, what do you think?” One youngster’s reply: “I think you’ve got the biggest nose I’ve ever seen.”

4. Charles A. Lindbergh

The young man who would give aviation its biggest boost since the Wright brothers got his start in aviation as a wingwalker, barnstormer, and parachutist. His proficiency in the latter art paid off when he had to bail out of a trainer during his Army stint and another three times while flying the Chicago-St. Louis mail run for the Robertson Air Corporation.

Any collection of photos of Lindbergh can easily be divided into pre-Atlantic crossing and post. There are many broad smiles before he flew solo nonstop from New York to Paris in May 1927 not many thereafter. Lindbergh was assaulted by the media and besieged by the adulation of the entire United States. By 1929, when Lindbergh was surveying cross-country routes for Transcontinental Air Transport and posing with movie stars to publicize the airline, the smile had vanished.

Lindbergh made his greatest survey flight in 1931 for Pan Am, when he and his wife and radio operator/navigator Anne Morrow set out in a Lockheed Sirius on floats to establish the shortest air route from New York to China via Churchill in Canada, Nome, Petropavlosk, Tokyo, and Nanking. Two years later the pair scoped out north and south Atlantic cities for operational facilities on Pan Am’s transatlantic routes. This round-the-Atlantic flight in the Sirius encompassed landings in Greenland, Iceland, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Scotland, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

In 1944, Lindbergh tested the Vought F4U Corsair in the field—the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific—and flew several missions with the U.S. Marines, downing a Japanese Zero. In New Guinea, he demonstrated to Army Air Forces pilots a fuel-saving technique that extended the range of the Lockheed P-38 from 575 to 750 miles. Charles Lindbergh’s flight to Paris was just the beginning of his career.

His daughter Reeve revealed Lindbergh’s method and his mastery when she recalled flying with him in an Aeronca Champion whose engine had quit: “He was persuading and willing and coaxing that airplane into doing what he wanted it to do, leaning it like a bobsled right down where it could safely land. He could feel its every movement as though it were his own body. My father wasn’t flying the airplane, he was being the airplane. That’s how he always done it.”

5. Charles E. Yeager

As a young Army Air Forces pilot in training, Yeager had to overcome airsickness before he went on to down 12 German fighters, including a Messerschmitt 262, the first jet fighter. After the war, still in the AAF, he trained as a test pilot at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he got to fly the United States’ first jet fighter, the Bell P-59, which he took on a joyride, flying low over the main street of his West Virginia hometown.

Yeager then went to Muroc Field in California, where Larry Bell introduced him and fellow test pilot Bob Hoover to the Bell XS-1. In his autobiography, Yeager, he says that Bell, in assuring them that a deadstick landing would be a piece of cake, bragged that “[W]ithout fuel aboard, she handles like a bird.”

“A live bird or a dead one?” Hoover asked.

In Yeager’s hands, the bullet-shaped XS-1 performed as advertised, and on October 14, 1947, ignoring the pain of two cracked ribs, he reached Mach 1.07 and lived to tell about it. The X-1 was not designed to take off under its own power it was air-dropped from a mothership. In January 1949, Yeager fired up the X-1’s four rockets on the runway. “There was no ride ever in the world like that one!” he later wrote. The aircraft accelerated so rapidly that when the landing gear was retracted, an actuating rod snapped and the wing flaps blew off.

He also managed to fly the Douglas X-3, Northrop X-4, and Bell X-5, as well as the prototype for the Boeing B-47 swept-wing jet bomber. The Bell X-1A nearly ate him for breakfast one December day in 1953. Yeager thought he could coax the X-1A to Mach 2.3 and bust Scott Crossfield’s Mach 2 record, achieved in the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. At 80,000 feet and Mach 2.4, the nose yawed, a wing rose, and the X-1A went berserk “in what pilots call going divergent in all three axes,” Yeager wrote. “I called it hell.” He was able to recover at 25,000 feet.

Yeager was sent to Okinawa in 1954 to test a Soviet MiG-15 that a North Korean had used to defect. When he stopped test-flying that year, he had logged 10,000 hours in 180 types of military aircraft.

6. Scott Crossfield

When Navy fighter pilot and flight instructor Scott Crossfield heard about the Bell Experimental Sonic XS-1 under construction in 1947, he wrote to its manufacturer proposing that he be named its first test pilot he offered to fly it for free. Bell did not reply, but no matter: In 1950 Crossfield was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and sent to Edwards Air Force Base in California to fly the world’s hottest X-planes, including the X-1, the tail-less Northrop X-4, the Douglas D-558-I Skystreak and D-558-II Skyrocket, the Convair XF-92A (which he pronounced “under-powered, under- geared, underbraked, and overweight”), and the Bell X-5. He made 100 rocket-plane flights in all. On November 20, 1953, he took the D-558-II to Mach 2.04, becoming the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound.

He gained a reputation as a pilot whose flights were jinxed: On his first X-4 flight, he lost both engines in the Skyrocket, he flamed out the windshield iced over in the X-1. After a deadstick landing in a North American F-100, he lost hydraulic pressure and the Super Sabre slammed into a hangar wall. Forever after, Chuck Yeager crowed, “The sonic wall was mine the hangar wall was Crossfield’s.”

Despite the many thrills at Edwards in the Golden Age of X-Planes, Crossfield was seduced by an aircraft on the North American drawing board. In 1955, he quit the NACA and signed on with the manufacturer, where he found his calling with the sinister-looking X-15. Crossfield made the first eight flights of the X-15, learning its idiosyncrasies, and logged another six after NASA and Air Force pilots joined the program. On flight number 4, the fuselage buckled right behind the cockpit on landing, but he had his closest call on the ground, while testing the XLR-99 engine in June 1960. “I put the throttle in the stowed position and pressed the reset switch,” Crossfield wrote in his autobiography Always Another Dawn. “It was like pushing the plunger on a dynamite detonator. X-15 number three blew up with incredible force.” Fire engines rushed to extinguish the blaze, and Crossfield was extracted from the cockpit. “The only casualty was the crease in my trousers,” he told reporters. “The firemen got them wet when they sprayed the airplane with water.” You sure it was the firemen? a reporter asked. Yes, he was sure, he aid. “I pictured the headline: ‘Space Ship Explodes Pilot Wets Pants.’ ”

7. Erich Hartmann

Unlike the rest of the pilots in “Ten Great,” Erich Hartmann flew only one aircraft type, and did almost all his flying during World War II. But his downing a mindboggling 352 enemy aircraft and earning the title of the Greatest Ace of All Time, No Kidding, places him on this list fair and square.

Hartmann’s mother taught him to fly gliders in his teens. He enlisted in the Luftwaffe in 1940, and his profiency at gunnery school marked him as a rising star. When he arrived on the Eastern Front at age 20, he was nicknamed Bubi (boy) by fellow pilots, and took to the Messerschmitt Me 109 like a duck to water. Hartmann’s winning technique was to fly so close to the enemy that he couldn’t miss. In November 1942 he scored his first victory, and within a year had downed 148 aircraft. The number of medals and awards seemed to keep pace with the number of fallen aircraft, which reached 301 in August 1944.

His superiors deemed him too valuable an asset to remain in combat (he was forced down 16 times) and called him back to test the Messerschmitt Me 262. But Hartmann was dedicated to fighting the Soviets and finagled a reassignment to the front. He was made a group commander and downed another 51 aircraft before Germany surrendered. In less than three years, he had flown 825 combat sorties.

Hartmann spent 10 years in a Russian prison. Three years after his release in 1955, he was commanding West Germany’s first all-jet fighter wing. He remained with the air force for another 15 years.

8. Anthony W. LeVier

Along with the P-38, the U-2, and the SR-71, Tony LeVier was one of Lockheed’s most prized legends. LeVier cut his teeth on air racing and placed second in the 1939 Thompson Trophy Race. The next year he was hired as a test pilot by General Motors then he moved to Lockheed.

LeVier flight-tested the P-38 Lightning to the ragged edges of its envelope and was sent to England to teach Eighth Air Force pilots how to get the most out of it. On one harrowing flight, in a 60-degree dive at over 500 mph initiated at 35,000 feet, the airplane started to nose over LeVier hauled back on the stick, trying to maintain dive angle. What saved him were dive-recovery flaps that engineers had just installed to prevent this very problem. At 13,000 feet, LeVier slowly regained control. “My strain gauges were set for 100 percent of limit load,” he reported in Test Pilots by Richard Hallion, “and they were all over 100 and all the red warning lights were on when I finally got out of the dive.”

Next up: the XP-80A, the nation’s first operational jet fighter. In 1945, by which time he was Lockheed’s chief test pilot, an XP-80’s turbine disintegrated and took the tail off the airplane. LeVier bailed out and crushed two vertebrae upon landing, an injury that grounded him for six months. He later called it “the most horrifying experience of my whole flying career.”

After World War II ended, LeVier worked with the model 75 Saturn and XR60-1 Constitution transports, and on the side bought a P-38 and got back into air racing. In 1946 he again placed second in the Thompson race. LeVier was the first to fly the XF-90, the YF-94 Starfire, the XF-104 Starfighter, and the U-2. (In Kelly: More Than My Share of It All, Lockheed designer Kelly Johnson recounts that when LeVier first saw the F-104, he asked, “Where are the wings?”—a question a great many others at least wondered about.) In 1950 he piloted the first Lockheed aircraft to surpass Mach 1, an F-90, which he dove at an angle of 60 degrees to reach 900 mph. When LeVier retired in 1974, he had made the first flights of 20 aircraft, had flown some 240 types of aircraft, and had survived eight crashes and a mid-air collision.

9. Jean Mermoz

In January 1921, on his third try, Jean Mermoz got his pilot’s license. Three years later, he signed up as a pilot with Lignes Aeriennes Latécoère, and set out to attain the goal of aircraft designer Pierre Latécoère: to create an airmail line linking Europe with Africa and South America.

In 1926, Mermoz had engine trouble over the Mauritanian desert and made an emergency landing. He was captured by nomadic Moors and held prisoner until a ransom was paid—a common practice and one of the many torments on the Latécoère airmail routes, which linked Toulouse to Barcelona, Casablanca, and Dakar. Mermoz was lucky—five Latécoère pilots were killed by Moors. Other hazards: the hostile Sahara, impenetrable Andes, and 150-mph winds that roiled over the southern Argentine coast.

In 1927, Lignes Aeriennes Latécoère became Compagnie Général Aéropostale, and Mermoz took charge of the South American routes. He made Aéropostale’s first South American night flight in April 1928 from Natal in Brazil to Buenos Aires in Argentina, along a route unmarked by any sort of beacon. After he showed the way, mail delivery was no longer restricted to daylight-only operations.

Mermoz next tackled shortening the Argentina-to-Chile route pilots had to make a thousand-mile detour to get around the Andes. With mechanic Alexandre Collenot, Mermoz set out in a Latécoère 25 monoplane and found an updraft that carried them through a mountain pass, but a downdraft smashed the aircraft onto a plateau at 12,000 feet. After determining that they could not hike out, Mermoz cleared a crude path to the edge of the precipice and removed from the aircraft anything that wasn’t bolted down. He and Collenot strapped themselves in, and Mermoz got the airplane rolling down the path. In effect, they dove off the mountain, and Mermoz pointed the nose straight down, hoping to gain flying speed. Again, luck was with him. And in July 1929, with the acquisition of Potez 25 open-cockpit biplanes that had a much higher ceiling than the Laté 25, Mermoz and Henry Guillaumet opened a scheduled route between Buenos Aires and Santiago.

In early 1930, Aéropostale looked to bridge the Atlantic. Mermoz, in a new Latécoère 28 float-equipped monoplane, took off on May 12 from St. Louis, Senegal, with a navigator, a radio operator, and a load of mail. As night fell, they flew into a series of waterspouts that rose into stormy clouds. In Wind, Sand and Stars, published in 1940, fellow Aéropostale pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: “Through these uninhabited ruins Mermoz made his way, gliding slantwise from one channel of light to the next, flying for four hours through these corridors of moonlight. And this spectacle was so overwhelming that only after he had got through the Black Hole did Mermoz awaken to the fact that he had not been afraid….”

Mermoz flew 1,900 miles in 19.5 hours, and landed in the Natal harbor the next morning. “Pioneering thus, Mermoz had cleared the desert, the mountains, the night, and the sea,” Saint-Exupéry wrote. “He had been forced down more than once…. And each time that he got safely home, it was but to start out again.”

The U.S. press called Mermoz “France’s Lindbergh.” On December 7, 1936, Mermoz departed Africa in a fourengine seaplane, bound for Brazil, on the weekly mail run. It was his 28th Atlantic crossing. Neither he nor his crew were seen again.

10. Jacqueline Auriol

The daughter-in-law of Vincent Auriol, president of France from 1947 to 1954, Jacqueline Auriol learned to fly so she could escape the stuffy protocol of the Palais Elysée. Her mentor, instructor Raymond Guillaume, imbued her with a passion for aerobatics. After the crash of a Scan 30 amphibian in which she was a passenger, she faced 22 surgeries to put her face back together yet, her first words in the ambulance rushing her to the hospital were “Will it be long before I can fly again?”

&ldquoIt&rsquos 17:00 Zulu time&rdquo

Since pilots can pass through multiple time zones in one trip and must communicate with air traffic controllers from around the world, aviators follow &ldquoZulu time,&rdquo or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the universal time zone of the skies, Aimer says. GMT is the time kept by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. So if it’s 2 a.m. in London for example, it&rsquoll be 02:00 &ldquoZulu time&rdquo for every pilot in the air.

But to avoid confusion among passengers, pilots refer to the time zone of their destination when speaking with passengers over the intercom.

7. Between the Wars, 1919-1939

From 1919 to 1939 the RAF was involved in a number of campaigns in the Middle East and India. See section 4 for advice on locating Operations Record Books, vital documents when piecing together the story of a mission or of larger operations.

Search among the following records for further details of operations:

  • Reports on operations in AIR 1 &ndash search by location
  • Reports on operations in AIR 5 &ndash search using the word &lsquooperations&rsquo and a geographical location, such as Iraq, Mesopotamia or Nuba Mountains
  • Chief of Air Staff records in AIR 8
  • Directorate of Operations and Intelligence and Directorate of Plans records in AIR 9
  • Air Publications in AIR 10
  • Unregistered papers in AIR 20
  • Overseas Commands in AIR 23
  • Squadron record books in AIR 27
  • Directorate of Intelligence and other intelligence papers in AIR 40

For more series covering this period see the Second World War section below &ndash many of the record series covering the war include interwar records.


Acc or Trolley Acc: Accumulator (battery) used to start aircraft engines on the ground.

Ack: under the old phonetic alphabet, "Ack" stood for the letter "A", thus "ack-ack" was "A-A" or anti-aircraft artillery.

Adj.: short form for Adjutant - the administrative assistant to the CO of a squadron.

Air Commode: Air Commodore.

Airscrew: the complete assembly of three or four propellers, hub and spinner.

Aircrew: the men who actually flew the bomber into battle.

A.M.O.: Air Ministry Orders. See "bumph".

Anchor: one who waits too long to drop by parachute.

Angels: a term used in airborne radio communications. One angel was 1000 feet, thus "angels 13" was 13,000 feet of altitude.

AOC: Air Officer Commanding.

Armourer: ground crew responsible for bombs, defensive ammunition, flares etc.

Arse end charlie: rear gunner (R/AG).

Arsy-tarsy: Aircrew Reception Centre.

Bale or bail out: to leave an aircraft by jumping - hoping that some "clot" had packed your 'chute correctly.

Bag: collect/secure, possibly illegally.

Bags of: a great amount, as in "bags of flak over the target".

Balbo: large formation of aircraft.

Balloonatic: member of Balloon Command.

Banana-boat: aircraft carrier.

Bang on: to be right on target. By extension, to be right on the mark about any observation (also "spot on").

Basher: man, chap, fellow in a particular trade e.g. "stores basher".

Battle dress blues: woolen working uniform.

Bandit: enemy aircraft.

Beatup: to fly very low over a populated airfield.

Beehive: very close formation of bombers (hive) with fighter escort (bees).

Belt: to travel at a high speed or to hit target heavily.

Best blues: parade uniform.

Binding: whining about conditions.

Black, a: something reprehensible, e.g. "he's put up a black with the CO about the mess he made of the march-past".

Blitz time: the time briefed for all aircraft to pass over target.

Blood-wagon: ambulance.

Bloody: at the time this was fairly heavy duty profanity, often made more mild by transliteration to "ruddy".

Blue: used by the Australians in reference to anything that was red.

Bods: squadron personnel.

Body-snatcher: stretcher bearer.

Boffins: scientific or technical types who worked on new aircraft developments.

Bog: a latrine - also "biffy".

Bolshie: a crewman who took a "dim view" of service "bull".

Boomerang: an operation that required one to return to base with a "u/s kite".

Boost: the amount of supercharging given to an engine to increase power.

Bowser: tanker truck or "lorry" used to refuel aircraft "down the flights".

B.P.D.: Base Personnel Disposal - where you went when you were "O.T.E.".

Brass, the or Brasshats: commanding officers at the Wing or Group level, so called because of the amount of gold braid found on hats of Group Captains, Wing Commanders and Air Vice Marshalls.

Brassed off: extremely unhappy. Also "browned off".

Brew up: to prepare a pot of tea.

Briefing: a meeting of all crew before an operation to receive instructions for the op.

Brown Jobs: the army - also "pongos" and "squaddies".

Brown, to get one's knees: to have spent time in the "MTO" - because of the heat the wearing of uniform "KD" shorts was necessary.

Buggers, to play silly: to fool around - not take job seriously.

Bull: the formalities of the service - parade ground bashing, saluting the King's commission, etc.

Bully Beef: a "gourmet canned meat product" consisting largely of fat, so called because of the Bull on the front of a tin of Hereford Brand corned beef. A staple food on Italian airfields.

Bumph: useless paperwork.

Bundoo, the: the boondocks - see "blue".

Burton: "Gone for a Burton" - killed in action - from an old beer commercial for Burton Ale.

Buy it: see "Burton". As in "Fred almost bought it over Verona last op". Also to "buy the farm".

Caterpillar Club: a club for those who had survived by jumping out of their aircraft and using their parachutes. The club pin was a small caterpillar (representing the insect that made silk for the parachutes) and was given by the maker of parachutes.

Chain Gang: aircrafthands, General Duties.

Chairborne division: RAF personnel working in offices.

Chance light: powerful light at end of runway which could be requested by a pilot in difficulty.

Chiefy: Flight Sergeant.

Chop, to get the: see "Burton".

Chuffed: extremely happy.

Chum: equivalent to the American "buddy" as in "wad'ya want chum?"

Circuits and bumps: a pilot training exercise in landing an aircraft and immediately taking off again. Equivalent to the American term "touch and go".

Civvy street: what you did before or after you were in the R.A.F.

Clapped out: an aircraft or person nearing the end of its useful life - worn out, tired.

Clobber: the clothing and equipment it was necessary to wear in a wartime bomber.

Clot: a person whose intelligence should be questioned.

CO: Commanding Officer.

Cockup: a situation that has become extremely disorganized (from the term "cocked hat").

Cookie: a 4000 H.C. bomb consisting of two light cased cylinders welded together and filled with amitol high explosive. It had the aerodynamic shape of a brick and was used to demolish large structures - also called a blockbuster.

Coned: when one searchlight, often radar controlled, picked up an aircraft all of the others in the target area would swing onto that aircraft, thus "coning" it - then the flak would be "poured into the cone".

Conservatory: cabin of a plane (from the perspex on three sides).

Corkscrew: evasive maneuver performed when attacked by night fighter - sharp diving turn to port followed by sharp climbing turn to starboard.

Cricket: German night fighter plane.

Dalton Computer: early mechanical hand held computer used in air navigation.

Darky: a system of radio signals whereby an aircraft that was lost could get assistance to return to base.

Debriefing: where all crews met with the Intel Officer to share what had happened on the raid.

Desert lily: urinal made from tin can.

D.F.C.: Distinguished Flying Cross - medal awarded to ranks of warrant officer and above for conspicuous bravery or long term excellence while on active service in operation against the enemy.

D.F.M.: Distinguished Flying Medal - same as a D.F.C., but for ranks of Flight Sergeant and lower.

Dicey-do: a particularly hair-raising operation.

Dim view, to take a: to view with skepticism or disapproval.

Ditch: to perform a landing in the "drink" - usually when one's a/c was unable to fly any more.

Dicky or 2nd Dicky: an inexperienced co-pilot flying with a veteran Wellington crew.

Dicky flight: a training flight where an inexperienced operational pilot would go with an experienced pilot on a real op.

Dicky seat: the seat originally designed for a second pilot in the Wellington - often used by the bomb aimer in the Middle East and Italy until near the target.

Dope: nitocelluloid liquid, similar to nail polish, used to tighten and harden the fabric covering of a "wimpy".

Down the flights: the area on an airfield where the aircraft were serviced between ops.

D.R.: dead reckoning navigation. Based on intended track, airspeed and time modified by wind speed and direction.

Drink: an ocean, river or lake.

Drome: aerodrome - an airfield.

Driver, airframe: a pilot. This term was a play on the way that the RAF quartermaster labeled everything, such as "Gloves, Airman, For the use of".

Duff: bad or not accurate, as in "duff gen".

Elsan: chemical toilet carried on board Wellington aircraft.

ENSA: entertainment troupe.

E.P.I.P.: type of marquee tent (Egyptian Pattern, Indian Production).

Erk: ground crew - from the Cockney pronunciation of aircraftsman.

ETA: estimated time of arrival.

Faithful Annie: An Avro Anson - a twin engined aircraft usually used for training or transport.

Finger, to remove one's: to hurry up and/or to pay attention.

Fitter: ground crew responsible for engines and related controls.

Flak: antiaircraft fire. From the German, "FLugAbwehrKanonen'. In reports "heavy flak" did not refer to the concentration or degree of flak but to the caliber observed. "Heavy flak" referred to anything of 88 mm and up while "light flak" consisted of quick firing 20, 30 or 40 mm. guns. By extension flak came to mean any grief given to you by anyone else.

Flame float: small incendiary device that would float after being thrown out down the flare chute. The rear gunner would center the "pip" on his reflector sight on the point of light and then read off the degree of deviation from a scale on his turret ring - this would provide the navigator with the degree of wind drift blowing the aircraft off track.

Flamer: aircraft shot down in flames.

Flaming: mild, all purpose expletive.

Flaming onions: anti aircraft tracer.

Flannel: to avoid the truth, to try and bluff one's way or to deceive.

Flap: as in "theres a flap on" - excitement or some especially chaotic event.

Flare path: a row of lights (either kerosene gooseneck flares, or, on a more permanent base, electric lights) that marked the boundary of the runway for taking off and landing.

Flight: a bomber squadron was often divided into two Flights - "A" and "B" consisting of 6-8 aircraft and crews and commanded by a Squadron Leader who was the Flight Commander or Leader - "A" Flight aircraft were lettered from A-N and "B" Flight from M-Z.

Flying brevet: cloth insignia worn on all uniforms including battle dress to indicate your aircrew trade. Pilots' brevets were always two winged. All other crew wore a single wing with their trade marked inside a circular area at the base of the wing.

Flying log: every crew member was required to keep a flying logbook of every flight he took including air tests, transport, training and operational flying. This book was signed by the Flight Leader each month and by the C/O of the squadron or the various Trade Leaders at the end of the tour (eg: a Bomb Aimer's log would be signed by the Bombing Leader, The Gunner's by the Gunnery Leader etc.).

Form 78: RAF form also called Aircraft Movement Card which followed the aircraft from the manufacturer to its final resting place.

Form 540: pages of this form make up the Operations Record Books (ORB), which included columns for date, aircraft type and number, crew, duty, time up, time down, details of sortie or flight, plus references and summaries.

Form 700: R.A.F. Form signed by the captain of the aircraft taking responsibility for the aircraft from the ground crew.

Fort or Fortress: Boeing B-17 bomber. Flown by USAAF out of Amendola and Tortorella as part of 15th Airforce, it was not used as a bomber in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations by RAF.

Frozen on the stick: paralyzed with fear.

Fruit salad: crew would wear only the ribbons from their "gongs" in most situations, wrapped around a thin bar and sewn together, worn under the flying brevet. The various Colors of the "gong" ribbons would look like fruit salad in a tin. The term was usually used for someone who had a large collection of ribbons.

F.T.U.: Ferry Training Unit - preparation for flying an aircraft out to an active theatre of war.

Gallopers: Warrant Officer rank badges. (courtesy of Steve Skepper)

Gardening: sowing mines in rivers, ports and oceans from low heights.

Gee: the earliest form of Ground Control Radar installed in Italy.

George: the automatic pilot.

Gen: information. Either good (see "pukka") or bad (see "duff").

Gen: a person on squadron who knew what he was doing, as in "a gen bod".

Gerry or Jerry: German.

Get some in: advice given to "sprog crews" who felt like advising "old lags" on their opinion of operational flying. Often paired with "chum" as in, "get some in chum, before you tell your grandmother how to suck eggs".

Gharry: originally a horse drawn cart, it came to mean any form of wheeled transport.

Gippy-tummy: "the screaming hab-dabs", "the trots in the extremis" - dysentery.

Goldfish Club: a label pin and membership card given to personnel who had used a rubber dingy to escape a ditched aircraft. (courtesy of Steve Skepper)

Gong: a service medal.

Goolie chit: a scrap of paper or piece of cloth that when shown to the natives of a country over which you might be shot down offered a reward if they would return you to the nearest Allied unit unharmed.

Goolies: part of body that if shot off would provide a very nice soprano voice for the remainder of the owner's life - as in "I almost got my goolies shot off, last op".

GP: General Purpose Bomb as in "6 x 250 GP".

Gremlin: a mythical creature that lived on certain aircraft and caused it to go "u/s" at the most inconvenient times and then could not be located as the source of the problem.

Green, in the: all engine control gauges operating correctly. A needle which swung into the "red" indicated a malfunction.

Green, to get the: to receive permission to take off, generally expanded to refer to getting permission for anything. To give an aircraft permission to take off the airfield control officer would signal in Morse code using an Aldis Lamp with a green lens. Usually the Morse code signal was the letter of the aircraft.

Greens, three: both main "undercart" legs and the tail-wheel down and locked. This was indicated by three lights on the flying panel. Up and locked would be indicated by "three reds".

Grief, to come to: to be destroyed or to get into trouble.

Ground wallah: an officer who did not fly (also see "penguin" and "mahogany Spitfire").

Groupie: Group Captain - usual rank of officer who commanded a Wing.

Group: a formation of "Wings".

Gubbins: equipment or needed material (eg: "has that kite got the gubbins for dropping a cookie?").

Guinea Pig Club: after an incident where aircrew were extremely badly burned they would be sent to East Grinstead Hospital in the U.K. where some of the foremost plastic surgeons of the day performed "cutting edge" surgery. The term was made up by the patients themselves. Many today proudly wear the maroon tie of the club.

H2S: early airborne centimetric radar used by Halifaxes. From "How To See" or "hydrogen sulphide" (implying the system "stinks") according to the two most popular legends.

Hack: aircraft on squadron used for general communications duties or as the CO's private aircraft.

Half-pint hero: a boaster.

Halibag: Handley Page Halifax - bomber used by 614 Squadron in the Pathfinder role.

H.C.: High Capacity - see "cookie".

Hedge-hopping: flying so low that the aircraft appears to hop over the hedges.

Herc: A Bristol Hercules sleeve valve air cooled radial engine of the type used on the Wellington Mk.X.

Hop the twig: Canadian term meaning to crash fatally.

Illuminator: a crew tasked with dropping flares on a night target so that the following aircraft could aim accurately - usual load was 54 parachute flares.

Intel: intelligence officer or intelligence report.

Irvin Jacket: Standard R.A.F. Leather Flying Jacket lined with fleece.

Jankers: to be put "on charge" for a violation of service discipline.

Jerry Can: excellent German invention of heavy duty portable can for holding water, gasoline or other liquid. It quickly replaced leaky tin cans used by RAF and was manufactured in England to the German pattern.

Jink away: sharp maneuver, sudden evasive action of aircraft.

Juice: aviation fuel (as in "we are low on juice"). Also "gravy". Aviation fuel was 100 Octane gasoline.

K.D.: Khaki Drill. The R.A.F. tropical uniform replaced R.A.F. blue battledress in tropical and desert climates.

Keen: eager or reliable - "keen as mustard "- a pun on Kean's mustard powder.

KIA: Killed in Action.

Kipper Kite: Coastal Command aircraft that protected fishing fleets.

Kit: ones belongings, both issue and personal (hence kitbag). Also used to mean equipment, as in "Does that erk have the kit to repair the hole in the starboard wing?".

Khamsin: a desert dust storm.

Knot: measure of air or ground speed - one nautical mile per hour (1.150 statute miles per hour).

KR's: King's Regulations - see "jankers".

Lib: Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" bomber.

Line shoot or shooting a line: exaggerating one's accomplishments, usually responded to by the line "there I was upside down, nothing on the clock but the makers name. "

L.M.F.: Lack of Moral Fibre - inability to continue on ops.

Lose your wool: lose composure.

M & V: Tinned Meat and Vegetable Stew.

M.A.A.F.: Mediterranean Allied Air Force.

Mae West: inflatable life vest worn over flying suit (thus called because when inflated it made one look like the "pigeon breasted" movie star).

Mahogany Spitfire: a desk "flown" by "penguins" and "ground wallahs".

M.A.S.A.F.: Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force.

M.C.: Medium Capacity Bomb as in "500 lb. MC".

Mepacrine: standard anti-malarial drug of the day.

Mess: the place assigned for the ranks, NCO's and Officers to eat or relax. These were separated and there was a protocol as to who could enter who's mess.

Met: Meteorology Officer or weather report.

M.I.A.: Missing in action.

Mickey Mouse: a bombing panel that consisted of a clockwork distributor and selection switches (sort of like a Mickey Mouse watch).

M.T.: Motorized Transport.

M.T.O.: Mediterranean Theatre of Operations.

M.U.: Maintenance Unit. An airfield where aircraft were taken to be repaired when the work could not be done on the squadron.

NAAFI: Navy, Army, Air Force Institute. An organization which attempted to bring comforts to the crews (tea and buns, cigarettes etc.) to raise morale.

N.C.O.: noncommissioned Officer - in the RAF this meant Sergeant or Flight Sergeant.

Nickels: propaganda leaflets.

Nobby: all purpose nickname for anyone called "Clark" or "Clarke". Originally "clarks" (now almost universally spelled "clerks", but in the U.K. often pronounced "clarks") wore top hats as a sign of their trade. The gentry or "nobs" also wore top hats and thus the clarks came by the name "nobby" because of their "posh" hats.

Odd bod: crew member who had lost his crew or who had fallen behind the rest of his crew in number of operational trips and who flew as a "spare" with another crew.

Old lag: experienced airman.

Old Man, the: the Squadron C/O.

On the beam: some stations (but not many in Italy) were equipped with a landing beam which told the pilot he was on the correct glide slope for landing. If he flew too high he would hear a series of morse dots and if too low a series of morse dashes. The idea was to keep a steady tone in one's earphones. This system also showed up in some aircraft as a set of lights showing that one was on the correct beam or too high or low. Also used for flying on a navigation beam such as Gee or Oboe. The phrase was generally applied to being on the right course of action about nearly anything, as in "I think the Wingco's on the beam about not flying over the Alps again."

Op: operation - an attack on the enemy (USAAF term - "mission").

Opsum: Operational Summary - prepared by the Intelligence Officer from debriefing notes recording the results of an operation.

Oranges: Vitamin C tablets.

ORB: Operational Record Book. The official account of operations flown by the squadron.

OTE: Operational Tour Expired. What a crew was after completing 40 operations.

OTU: Operational Training Unit.

Overload tanks: extra fuel tanks required when the Wellington was operated at its extreme range. Two could be fitted in the bomb bays and one could be fitted on the rest cot in the fuselage.

Pack up, to: to break down, as in "My port engine packed up coming out of the target area".

Packet, to catch a: to be on the receiving end of offensive fire, as in "I heard Nobby caught a packet over Verona last night".

Penguin: term for ground officers with no operational experience - a bird with wings that can't fly.

Plaster: to bomb heavily and accurately.

Plonk: cheap Italian wine, also "AC plonk" (AC 2 was the lowest rank in the R.A.F.).

Pom: Australian term for the British. Also "Pommy" used as in "What a typical Pommy cockup".

Port: the left side of an aircraft as seen from pilots seat.

Posted: orders sending a crewman to another station or responsibility.

Prang: to crash an a/c or to hit a target well.

Press on regardless: unofficial motto of RAF, meant to show "keenness" to fly through adversity to the target - often stupid advice. Many men died "pressing on regardless" of severe icing and "duff" engines and died because of it. Often used in an ironic way to show resignation to keeping on with a task no matter how ridiculous or unpleasant. Also used as an expression to "buck up" those who were depressed about something.

Prune, Pilot Officer: a fictional officer in the R.A.F. training manuals who demonstrated all of the things that could go wrong if procedures were not followed correctly.

PSP: Perforated or Pierced Steel Planking (also called Marsden Matting) - steel mats used on newly created airfields to hold the weight of aircraft, used as taxiways, hardstandings, and runways.

Pukka: genuine, as in "pukka gen".

Pulpit: cockpit of aircraft, also "office".

Pundit: a flashing light which signaled a Morse Code letter in order to assist navigation.

P.W.: Prisoner of War. US term - P.O.W.

Queen Mary: an articulated "semi" trailer used to transport aircraft or aircraft parts by ground to M.U.'s for service or refurbishment.

RAFVR: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve - members of the RAF for the duration of the hostilities.

Rigger: ground crew responsible for airframe (special areas might include "instrument basher" and "sparks" to look after instruments and electrical systems).

Roddie or rodded bombs: bomb fitted with a rod in the nose so that it would explode above the ground - used in antipersonnel ops.

Ropey: uncomplimentary adjective "A ropey landing", "A ropey type", "A ropey evening", etc.

Round: one cartridge of .303 ammunition. Ammunition was measured in number of rounds carried.

Runup: to test engines for magneto drop before taking off - also the route taken into the target area before the bomb dropping point was reached.

Salvo: bomb selection which released all bombs at the same time.

SBC: Small Bomb Container - canister to hold a load of the standard 4 lb. magnesium incendiary bomb - usual load was 6 to 8 SBC's.

Scramble: mainly a fighter term. To get airborne as quickly as possible.

Scrambled eggs: a reference to the gold braid on high ranking officers' hats.

Scarecrow: crews reported aircraft blowing up without evidence of attacks (e.g. tracer), and the story arose that the Germans were firing scarecrow shells to simulate stricken aircraft, so as to demoralise crews.

Scream downhill: execute a power dive.

Screamer: bomb that makes a whistling sound as it comes down.

Screened: a period after completing a tour when the crewman could not be called on to do operational flying.

Scrub: to cancel an op.

Shakey-do: see "dicey do".

Shot down in flames: crossed in love or severely reprimanded.

Shot to ribbons: totally incapable through drink.

Show: performance or situation - ("that was a good show over Budapest" or "he put on a bad show").

Six, to hit for a: to score maximum points - to put on a very good show (from cricket) .

Skipper: the pilot/captain of the aircraft and crew leader. In the air his rule was law regardless of his rank.

S.O.C.: Signed off Charge. Aircraft no longer usable or wanted by R.A.F.

Sortie: one aircraft doing one trip to target and back.

Spam: canned meat product produced by Hormel in the US. A substitute for real meat (see Bully Beef).

Spam can: a B-24 Liberator.

Sparks: term for either the ground crew who looked after the electrical systems or the aircrew wireless operator.

Spoof: a diversionary raid or operation.

Sprog: a "new boy" fresh from training - inexperienced (also a "sprog crew").

Squadron Leader: rank of officer who usually led a Flight (or two Flights, "A" and "B" on a usual squadron).

Squirt: to fire a short burst from machine guns, as in "the rear AG gave him a squirt before we went into the corkscrew".

Starboard: the right side of the aircraft as seen from pilot's seat.

Stick: bomb selection so that bombs would be released at timed intervals from their carriers in the bomb bay (also to release only a part of bomb load - going around a second time to drop the rest).

Strip, to tear off a: to be severely reprimanded by a superior. In extreme cases a "strip" (ie: rank stripes), would be literally be stripped off thus, demoting an airman for extreme problems.

Tea: next to gasoline the most important liquid in the RAF.

Tee Emm: R.A.F. Magazine (after Training Manual).

Ten-tenths: no visibility because of total cloud cover. Also 10/10ths flak - very heavy concentration.

T.D.: time delay fuse setting on bomb which determined when bomb would explode.

Theatre or Theatre of Operations: the geographic area where combat was taking place - eg:
The Mediterranean Theatre, The Far East Theatre etc.

T.I.: Target Indicator - colored pyrotechnic devices dropped by Pathfinder Forces to identify targets, effectively used only after April 1944 by 205 Group.

Ticket: pilot's certificate.

Tiggerty-boo: all in order (tiggerty from the Hindustani teega).

Tin basher: metal worker.

Twitch: body tremors developed by aircrew after a number of operations - "he's got the twitch" - sign of operational stress.
Tommy: after Tommy Atkins (Kipling). Originally used to denote the British infantryman, later to be used by the Germans as "tommi" as their equivalent to "Gerry". U.S. equivalent - "G.I."

T.O.T.: time on target. The time briefed for aircraft to attack target area.

Tool along: fly aimlessly.

Touch bottom: to crash.

Tour of Operations: the amount of time or number of "ops" that a crewman had to complete before being "screened".

Tracer: a type of machine gun round which glowed as it moved showing the way to the target and allowing for adjustments in sighting. Unfortunately this also gave away bomber's position. Usually every fourth round was a tracer.

Type: a kind of person ( as in: "he's an aircrew type" or "he's a bolshie type").

Two-six (2-6): general base call "down the flights" that all personnel were needed on a job.

Undercart: the undercarriage of an aircraft. Two main wheels and a tail wheel in the case of "taildraggers" like the Wellington. Two main and a nose wheel for "tricycle" aircraft like the B-24. Attempting a landing with the "cart up" was considered a "putting up a large black" for the pilot.

U/S: unserviceable - broken or not available.

Vees: a brand of wartime cigarette.

Vegetables: acoustic or magnetic mines sowed on "gardening" expeditions to various "beds".

VHF: Very High Frequency - Radio band.

Vic: aircraft formation in the shape of a V. Usually three aircraft but could be more.

Waafize: the substitution of WAAF for male members of a unit.

Wad: cake or bun or scone "char and a wad".

Waffle/waffling: out of control, losing height or cruising along unconcernedly and indecisively.

Wallah: chap or fellow.

Washed out: to fail as a student pilot or other trade. One was then usually remustered as something more suitable to one's abilities.

Weaving: a gentle form of corkscrew. An evasive maneuver to allow gunners maximum view around aircraft.

Weaving, to get: to get going, hurry up.

Wimpy: Vickers Armstrong's Wellington Bomber - after J. Wellington Wimpy from "popeye" comic strip.

Window: strips of metalized paper cut to length of wavelength of enemy radar to confuse search and control radar - effective on radar controlled guns and searchlights.

Wing: unit made up of two or sometimes three squadrons.

Wingco: Wing Commander (rank of officer who led a squadron).

Wizard or wizzo: excellent - superlative (eg: a "wizard prang").


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Cover of RCAF Pilot's Flying Log Book - History

My goal for these pages is to identify every serial number ever assigned to a Canadian military aircraft, and to track the history of each aircraft in as much detail as I can. Since starting these pages I have been lucky enough to receive correspondence from serial number enthusiasts from around the world, and they have become a major source for the data presented here. I'm always in the process of adding this new information to my database and these web pages. Check out my change log each time you visit, to see the progress.

The links in the table below will take you to some purely arbitrary headings I have created. These are intended to make the data more manageable, and don't necessarily reflect any official groupings or divisions of serial numbers. Each topic main page includes some brief historical notes, to help explain changes in the numbering systems over the years, and to help put the serial numbers in perspective. Pages that contain links to photographs, or pages that refer to pages with photo links, are marked with

I've recently added a list of aircraft by type, to help you find all the serials of a single type, which may be spread over several of the pages listed below. I welcome any feedback you may have on this new feature.

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