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Royal New Zealand Air Force



Recruits for aircrew were posted on enlistment to the Ground Training School, or the Initial Training Wing as it later became known. There they were formally attested, kitted, and given a four weeks' course of basic service training and drill. They attended lectures in subjects which would help them in their future careers, including elementary navigation, mathematics, airmanship, Air Force law, discipline and hygiene. Those who completed the course satisfactorily were then posted either to an Elementary Flying Training School or to the Observer and Air Gunnery School.

The pilots then did an eight-weeks' course at an EFTS. There they divided their time equally between learning to fly elementary aircraft and continuing their ground studies. Besides learning to fly light aircraft, they were also trained in elementary map reading and pilot navigation. The basic training given at elementary schools varied little throughout the war, although by 1945 instruction was more standardised than it was in the early years. The main developments in the EFTS syllabus were the introduction of night flying in 1941, more specialised instruction in pilot navigation in 1942, and increased emphasis on instrument flying during the latter half of the war.

Flying instruction was the responsibility of the Chief Flying Instructor, and the instructing staff was organised into flights of from six to nine instructors. Ground instruction and the general discipline of pupils were the responsibility of the Chief Ground Instructor, who had under him a number of officers and NCOs who instructed the pupils in their various subjects. The pupils were divided into squads, each squad spending half the day on lectures and the other half flying.

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From EFTS those pupils who had passed their tests successfully graduated to an SFTS. There they spent eight weeks in the Intermediate Training Squadron learning to fly service-type aircraft, and then passed on to the Advanced Training Squadron for another eight weeks and learnt how to apply their flying training in air gunnery, bombing, and navigational exercises. As at EFTS, they spent half their time at lectures, under the control of the Chief Ground Instructor, and half in flying.

The Chief Flying Instructor, who was also Officer Commanding Intermediate Training Squadron, was responsible for pure flying training and also for airfield discipline for the whole station. The Officer Commanding Advanced Training Squadron was responsible for all the applied flying training. New Zealand was the only country operating under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan in which the SFTSs retained the two-squadron organisation with a distinct break between intermediate and advanced training. In the latter part of the war at No. 1 SFTS, Wigram, the two squadrons were co-ordinated for administrative purposes into a flying wing under the control of a Wing Commander Flying.

Those pupils who successfully passed out of ATS were posted to the RAF, with the exception of the top three or four of each course, who were retained in New Zealand for further training as flying instructors. Later in the war, when operational training units were established, many pupils went to them after leaving SFTS.

Observers and air-gunners went to Ohakea when they left the Ground Training School. There they spent their time in lectures and in learning the practical sides of their trades. Air-gunners started their practical training in the air with camera guns and then progressed to firing machine guns, first at targets on the ground and then at drogues towed by other aircraft. An important part of their training was signalling. Their course lasted for four weeks, after which they were ready for posting overseas.

Observers, whose first four weeks' ground training was the same as that of the air-gunners, remained at the school for a further eight weeks, specialising in navigation. Their flying training comprised navigational exercises and bombing.