Mike Allisstone 62C

Notes for Guidance of Cadets

This edition was issued in 1965 shortly after the arrival of No 91 entry. Was this reminder in any way connected to qualities & standards evidenced in those new recruits?

101  Entry who had time on their hands!

Hands - shame it's in black and white. Large day-glo orange cardboard hands tied onto the clock tower. The weight unbalanced the mechanism and we were to be faced with a humongous bill to repair. Fortunately, Dick Leonard on 101 Entry (later a group captain with an OBE) a keen mountaineer climbed back up, untied them and got the mechanism working again.

The Rules & Laws of Flying

1.     There are Rules and there are Laws. The rules are made by men who think that they know how to fly your aircraft better than you.

2.     The Laws (of physics) were made by the Great One. You can, and sometimes should, suspend the rules but you can never suspend the Laws.

3.     More about Rules: A. Rules are a good place to hide if you don’t have a better idea and the talent to execute it. B. If you deviate from a rule, it must be a flawless performance. (e.g. If you fly under a bridge, don’t hit the bridge.)

4.     As an aviator in flight you can do anything you want. As long as it’s right and we’ll let you know if it?s right after you get down.

5.     You can’t fly forever without getting killed or dying.

6.     As a Fighter Pilot only two bad things can happen to you and one of them will happen to you: A. One day you will walk out to the aircraft knowing that it is your last flight in a fighter. B. One day you will walk out to the aircraft not knowing that it is your last flight in a fighter.

7.     The Fighter Pilot is the highest form of life on earth.

8.     The ideal Fighter Pilot is the perfect blend of discipline and aggressiveness.

9.     About check rides: A. Having someone follow you to grade how you fly is just like having someone come into your bedroom to grade how you make love. B. The only real objective of a check ride is to complete it and get the bastard out of sight. C. It has never occurred to any Flight Examiner that the Examinee could not care less what the Examiner’s opinion is of his flying ability.

10.     The medical profession is the natural enemy of the aviation profession.

11.     The job of the Squadron Commander is to worry incessantly that his career depends solely on the abilities of his aviators to fly their aircraft without mishap and that the only minuscule contribution his aviators give to this effort is to bet their lives on it.

12.     Ever notice that the only experts who decree that the age of the pilot is over, are people who have never flown anything? Also, in spite of the intensity of their feelings that the pilot’s day is over, I know of no such expert who has volunteered to be a passenger in a non-piloted aircraft.

13.     It is absolutely imperative that the Fighter Pilot be unpredictable. Rebelliousness is very predictable. In the end. Conforming, most of the time, is the best way to be unpredictable.

14.     He who demands everything that his aircraft can give him is a pilot; he that attempts one iota more is a fool.

15.     If you’re gonna fly low, do not fly slow!

16.     It is solely the pilot’s responsibility to never let any other thing touch his aircraft.

17.     If you can learn how to fly as a Lt. and not forget how to fly by the time you’re a Lt.Col. you will have lived a happy life.

18.     About night flying: A. Remember that the aircraft doesn’t know that it’s dark. B. At night, never fly between the tanker’s lights. C. There are certain aircraft sounds that can only be heard at night. D. If you’re going to fly at night, it might as well be in the weather so you can double count your exposure to both hazards. E. Night formation flying is a test of concentration. F. You would have to pay a lot of money at a lot of amusement parks to get the same blend of psychedelic sensations as a night weather formation flight on the wing of a younger pilot.

19.     One of the most important skills that a pilot must develop is the skill to ignore those things that were designed by non-pilots to get the pilot’s attention.

20.     At the end of the day, the Controllers, Operations Supervisors, Maintenance Guys, Weather Guessers, and Birds; they’re all trying to kill you and your job is to not let them!

21.     The concept of “controlling” airspace with radar is just a form of FAA sarcasm directed at Fighter Pilots to see if they’re gullible enough to swallow it. Or to put it another way, when is the last time the FAA ever shot anyone down?

22.     Remember that the radio is only an electronic suggestion box for the pilot. Sometimes the only way to clear up a problem is to turn it off.

23.     It is a tacit, yet a profound admission of the preeminence of flying in the hierarchy of the human spirit, that those who seek to control aviators via threats always threaten to take away one’s wings and not one’s life.

24.     Remember when flying low and inverted that the rudder still works the same old way but hopefully your Instructor never taught you “pull the stick back, and the plane goes up”.

25.     Mastering the prohibited maneuvers in the Manual is one of the best forms of aviation life insurance you can get.

26.     A tactic done twice is a procedure. (Refer to unpredictability discussion above.)

27.     The aircraft G-limits are only there in case there is another flight scheduled for that particular aircraft. If subsequent flights are not likely, there are no G-limits.

28.     One of the beautiful things about a single piloted aircraft is the quality of the social experience.

29.     If a mother has the slightest suspicion that her infant might grow up to be a pilot she had better teach him to put things back where he got them.

30.     The ultimate responsibility of the pilot is to fulfill the dreams of the countless millions of earthbound ancestors who could only stare skyward and wish.

The Reckoning

Excuse me - Saint Peter?

Yes, my boy. Oh of course, you're Richard Robson, aren't you?

We've been expecting you. Come with me. We'll just pop into my office for a couple of minutes while I go through your notes and put you in the picture.

Interesting flying career. If you had your time all over again, would you want to do it again?

You bet!

Hmm, I see you got a final assessment of “exceptional” as a pilot.

Yes, well, I am not sure that I would have rated myself as highly as that if I had been carrying out a flying check on me. Still, it was nice of my group captain to sign my log-book like that. My father would have been pleased.

So why did you leave the RAF?

Pushes and pulls, like most people. Too many postings. Kids reaching secondary school age, needed to be more settled. That sort of thing. Wanted to try a different career.

Let me see, what did you do after you left the service? Ah yes, university and then into school teaching. Wanted to do something more constructive than teaching people to drop atomic bombs, eh? A bit of idealism, eh?

It seemed a good idea at the time, right enough. But the idealism soon wore off… in about three weeks.

School teaching is a very different kettle of fish from training people to fly. Ten per cent of the kids are ratbags who take ninety per cent of your attention just to keep discipline. It's not fair on the ninety per cent of decent kids. And the paperwork, and the marking - but I don't need to go on about it. It was a mistake to go in for it middle age after dealing with adults all my life before.

I hear what you are saying. Teachers are allowed a second helping at teatime when they come up here because of what they have gone through.  

What's for tea?

Bread of Heaven and Angel cakes, of course.

But back to your notes. I see that you died in bed. A lot of your old mates didn't, and came up here early, as you know. Some of them have been asking about you. I saw Creek in the crew room just now. Ken and Neil are down in the vineyard sorting it out. The Grapes of Wrath all got trampled during the American Civil War, you know? Anyway, did you miss flying?

Of course, but I was able to do a bit of gliding. Didn't really get hooked on it though. A lot of running about laying out cables, retrieving gliders, holding wing tips and so on before your turn. Not much to do once you're up except to look for rising air so you can stay up. Nice view of the scenery, then you start thinking about a call of nature…

Some chaps up here run a gliding club. Some quite good thermals over the infernal regions, I believe. As long as you don't mind the smell.

But we've spent enough time gossiping. Like most people, you got several things wrong during your apprenticeship down on Earth, so you'll have to go over to Ground School for a few lectures and a simple test paper. When you come back, I'll arrange your interview with the Boss. We get a table furnished for you as well, in presence of thy foes.  

How long will I be at Ground School?  

Not very long. A thousand Ages. 'Tis but a morning gone. The test will be a piece of cake, so you don't need to worry. Our main problem is the religious lot: the vicars, rabbis and immams and all that crowd. They all think that they know the answers already and don't pay attention to the lectures. So, they keep having to do resits.

Will I need a harp or anything?

No, not yet. In any case, harps are not compulsory here anymore. We got fed up with them. You could play the trombone later, if you want. Bagpipes, even! Anyway, enough just now. I'll take you over to your room in Ground School in a minute. Have you any questions?

Well, I did mean to ask what has happened to all the past. Did it really exist?

Yes, I saw all that deep philosophical nonsense in your book. I think I saw what you thought you meant. You'll get it all in your lectures anyway. Basically, there's no time book here, just eternity. Was, is, and evermore shall be. That sort of thing. Never mind just now. How about some ambrosia? Hey, watch out, thy cup runneth over!

Richard Robson self penned obituary

RIP 27 June 2020