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pilot training
job interview
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jargon
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Was Pilot Training A Factor In Red Arrow Crash At Bournemouth 2011?
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Was Pilot Training A Factor In Red Arrow Crash at Bournemouth 2011?

In a nutshell, it is far to early to say. Our condolences go to the family of the deceased, Flt Lt Jon Egging, from all of us at Pilot Training Schools. The airraft crashed just a few hours ago and the formal investigations are just beginning. Any attempt to identify a cause of the crash at this stage would be just pure speculation and would not help the official investigation, the family and their relatives or the Red Arrows Display Team.

Whilst we wait for answers, it may be helpful to reflet on the training that these ultimate pilots recieve before they are engaged on one of the most demanding roles in aviation. As many of the technical and jargon laden aspects of flying have been removed from what follows in an attempt to help as many people as possible understand what goes in to training a milatary pilot.

First of all, they have to join the Royal Air Force. The selection process has to choose just a small numnber of recruits from many thousands of young, hopeful pilots every year. Of the few who remain and start the process of training to be a pilot with the RAF, they all know that they can be excluded at any time, if they fail to meet the very high standards required. Think of it like being in a job interview, but all of the time.

This harsh "survival of the fittest" approach to training is required because the demands on the pilot under training inrcrease as the course progresses. Therefore, anyone who has difficulty with the basic training, is going to be hard pressed to keep up with the more advanced stages.

Just look at one factor that changes hugely, speed. Early training aircraft cruise around 100mph, take of and land a little slower and reach a maximum speed of around 150mph. Very similar to a car really. The next step up to a turbine powered aircraft like the Tucano, more than doubles the maximum speed to over 300 mph. Moving on to the Hawk fast jet takes speeds to supersonic level in a dive, more than double again! So the progression required of the pilot to step up to the next level in training is very demanding.

After completing their pilots wings course, a fast jet pilot then has to convert into an operational role. In other words, learing to fight while flying. This is the daily job for most fast jet pilots. Finally, for those who make it through all of the courses, they will be deployed to an operational squadron for a first tour of around 3 years. After all of that, they are then eligible to apply to join the Red Arrows, as long as they have been rated as above average of course. So in terms of pilot training, the Red Arrows really represent the pinacle of achivement. Whist not impossible, it is highly unlikely that pilot training played a part in todays incident.


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