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The start of commercial pilot training

The start of commercial pilot training

Background

In the beginning, the responsibility for flight training fell solely to the Air Force and the pioneering aircraft manufacturer’s own test pilots. The ‘Golden Age of Aviation’ – between both World Wars – saw the growth of flying clubs and the first issues of Civilian ‘A’ licences.

The instructors at those clubs were virtually all military pilots created during the First World War. Famous Aviatrix Amy Johnson gained her licence in this way, enrolling at London Aeroplane club to allow her to fly, initially as a hobby, whilst she worked as a secretary to a solicitor. She was an inspiring pioneer in both the aviation industry, as well as the ‘self improver’ route that we now know of today as the ‘Modular’ route.

After the Second World War there was a lull in commercial air travel, but by the late 1950’s it started to quickly pick up again. It soon became apparent that there would be a shortage of ex-military pilots available to crew the British civil operations. State-owned airlines, along with the Ministry for Aviation, proposed a plan to create a flying school based on the RAF’s aircrew officer training college, Cranwell.

In 1960, the plan was approved and the site chosen was Hamble. The course was ‘ab initio’ (for new pilots) and open to school leavers with 5 GCSE’s and 2 A levels. It would last 18 months beginning to end, and was essentially the start of the integrated model. Very soon, pressures on Hamble and the growing demand from BEA (who would sponsor 1500 cadets between 1967-72) meant that similar courses were set up in Oxford and Perth.