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RFC/RAF Pilot's Log Problems


ChrisM
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Could anyone who has done work on RFC/early RAF Pilot’s Logs advise me please?

I am currently looking at one covering the period 1917 to early 1919. I am convinced that there are significant omissions from it. Some of these may be explicable, for example when the pilot was flying as a passenger only. But others are not. The latter seem to occur post-Armistice when the pilot was helping to provide a mail service between Cologne and Spa and was probably doing his share of joyriding over Germany too. There are virtually no entries in this period but other documentation indicates the pilot was definitely flying.

1. I assume I am right in saying that a pilot would not record flights if he were merely in the back seat, or at least not in his pilot’s log. Would he log such service activity anywhere else?

2. Am I being naïve in assuming that to a pilot his flying record, as entered in his log, would be sacrosanct and that he would normally do everything possible to ensure that it was complete?

3. Would there have been any check on completeness, by the flight/squadron commander for

example, or was it a totally private document?

3. Could a pilot ever have had a second log, for some reason, perhaps if the main log were mislaid?

Cannot find any logical explanation for my problem but should appreciate any thoughts.

Thanks.

Chris

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Chris,

1) No, not right, at least in the RNAS 2-seater pilots often recorded a flight when they were a passenger.

2) Yes you are being naive - the quality of log entries varies from pilot to pilot - the higher up the pecking order the ropier the entries get. In the RNAS, once at Squadron Commander rank, it was not compulsory to fill in the log at all. Christopher Draper being a prime example. Some pilots used the log just like a diary and religiously filled it in, others regarded it as "bloody paperwork"!!!

Entries by the latter class of pilot were often made at the end of the week or just before an inspection - if the pilot couldn't get his hands on the SRB he had to do it from memory.

3) Sometimes they were checked, sometimes they were not, depended on the Flight Commander and/or Squadron Commander in the RNAS. If they were checked, there would be a date and a signature, and usually a squadron stamp.

second 3) The only times I have come across multiple logs is where the pilot fills in a lot of detail and has a long career (they are the best logs usually), basically I don't know what happened if the pilot lost a log!

hope that helps,

Mike

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Thanks for that, Mike, very helpful and much appreciated.

I am assuming that the R.N.A.S. practice reads across to the RAF. In any case the squadron mainly involved here was an ex-R.N.A.S. one, although the pilot in question was an R.F.C. man.

My problem is the contradictions between log and contemporary correspondence: on the subject of types flown at one point during training at a time when the log was clearly subject to checks and approval; then, after qualification, omissions because the pilot was a passenger; the odd suspected omission during operations, and then after the Armistice a definite and significant failure to record the majority of flights. It’s strange, because the lad himself was meticulous in many other ways and was even considering carrying on into civil aviation where presumably his log would have been a useful c.v. Perhaps nothing mattered much after surviving dozens of operations over the lines….

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking at Dallas' log (He too was RNAS) in the front it states that it was only compulsory to keep a log during training (and certainly his was only reviewed and signed during this period). After that it was up to the individual. Does anyone know when log books first came into use or when they came to be compulsory?

post-25-1085017732.jpg

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Guest Pete Wood

Which squadron are we talking about here....??

Is it 2 Sqn or 18 Sqn by any chance....??

DH4A's or DH9's....??

If it is one of these squadron's, then it is quite an interesting story. Basically, this was the start of the UK's overseas mail and passenger flight service, which evolved into Imperial Airways - and years later, British Airways.

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Thanks, Stan. I’m surprised that the RNAS tradition was quite as relaxed as this instruction proves. My impression is that in the RFC and RAF the discipline was much less optional, although I have no concrete evidence to offer in support of that.

Racing Teapots……The squadron involved with my original posting was 206. This was formed from 6 RNAS in April 1918. The period I am interested in is August 1918 – March 1919. After the Armistice this squadron was based at Bickendorf and as you no doubt know provided a mail service between there and Spa in early 1919. At least one pilot who had survived active service lost his life performing this duty. Their main equipment remained DH9s.

My problem with the log of a pilot of this period is that the man concerned, if the log is to be believed , flew only once from Bickendorf. I know from other documents that flying was very limited and as a result everyone was pretty browned-off. But nevertheless I also know for definite that this pilot did fly on other occasions (as pilot and not just as passenger) and it’s frustrating that the log contains no record of this, particularly if he was doing some of the mail runs. Which is why I asked the original question.

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

ChrisM,

There was the ever-present possibility that ALL the log books, Squadron records from a particular squadron were destroyed during an air raid on their aerodrome.

Steve Drew

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ChrisM, Stan,

I've seen two of R A Little's log books, and he was fairly meticulous in his "bloody paperwork".

Also, as MikeW mentioned, it may not have been compulsory to fill out log books for higher ranked officers; indeed, some of them were banned from flying, and hid the fact that they had been operating contrary to instructions.

Steve Drew

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