The Early Years (1903-1928) T he Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators was founded in 1929, twenty-six years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight in their heavier-thanair machine. From 1903, aviation blossomed with attempts to fly higher, further and faster. During the First World War (1914-18) aircraft became a military resource for the first time and used for reconnaissance and combat missions. Military involvement changed irrevocably the perception of aviation, kudüs turu altering the course of its development.
Up until this time pilots had been mainly pioneers, adventurers and entrepreneurs. After the war, civil flying began to flourish apace. For example, the world’s first regular, international, scheduled passenger air service began in 1919 when a de Havilland 4A converted bomber left Hounslow Heath for Le Bourget airport, Paris. And the Atlantic was conquered with the first non-stop flight across the ocean by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown and the first two-way crossing by an airship in the British R.34. Enter the roaring 20s, when flying became all the rage. This was aviation’s golden era for newsworthy recordbreaking feats, publicity stunts, glamorous female pilots, long-distance route proving and the winning of trophies that boosted national pride. Airships were also making big news and this was the start of the heyday of the flying boats. By 1928, flying had become a serious professional occupation. In spite of this, the rules and regulations surrounding the control of flight were worryingly uncoordinated. There was a growing sense of unease at the lack of proper standards and the legal status of pilots. Founding of the Guild (1929-1939) Concern over this laid-back approach to standards elicited a response from some of the most eminent aviators of their day. They felt that they had a role to play, as demonstrated by City of London Livery Companies, in the setting up and maintenance of standards. The formation of a Guild would help to establish the rules of the profession, particularly at a time when operating regulations and agreements were being decided. A letter written in March 1928 by solicitor Lawrence Wingfield to Colonel, The Master of Sempill, President of The Royal Aeronautical Society, set out the intent. “For some weeks past I have been seriously considering the formation of a new City Company having special relationship to Aeronautics. My idea is that the formation of such a Company, which I would suggest might be called “The Company of Airmen”, would provide opportunities for good fellowship and meetings between gentlemen in the City interested in aeronautics and the actual representatives of that profession”. Colonel Sempill’s response four days later said that he thought it was a good idea which he would look into and test the reaction of others. Against this background, a group of the most distinguished pilots and air navigators attended a dinner at Rules Restaurant, London. Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sefton Brancker, Director of Civil Aviation, said that it was time for pilots who had attained high professional status, as holders of a ‘B’ Licence and Air Navigator’s Certificate, to form their own Company along the lines of the City Livery Companies of London. A committee was formed to work out the details and the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators was formed in 1929. Sir Sefton was the first Master, with Chief Air Ministry Navigation Examiner, Squadron Leader Ernest Johnston, becoming the Deputy Master. One of the Guild’s first tasks was to find legal representation for the commander of an Imperial Airways aircraft that had been forced to ditch in the English Channel. The Guild supported the principle of a pilot’s discretion, having regard to wind and weather, in choosing height and route, and urged the need for flexibility. Subsequently, the Guild set up a committee to consider flying accidents from the pilot’s point of view, answering a concern that, in the event of an accident, the pilot might be incapable of defending himself against charges of culpability. Among the Guild’s aims was to offer unbiased, authoritative opinion and play a significant role in the cause of air safety, a cause it vigorously champions today. It also undertook to provide training for pilots to qualify as air navigators. There were other notable contributions to the profession. The Guild’s paper, ‘The Problems of Air Transport from the Pilot’s Point of View’ was presented at the 1930 International Air Congress at The Hague. It recommended a definite status, with some form of pension, for air transport pilots and the foundation of a recognised degree in aeronautics. The Guild asked the Air Ministry to consider proposals for the creation of a Master Air Pilot’s Licence and to note aspects of air safety in contravention to the Air Navigation Regulations. A Guild History of the Guild 5 Sir Sefton Brancker (Master) hosts a Guild dinner at Rules in 1930. Standing (from left) is C R McMullin, O P Jones, ‘Scruffy’ Robinson, and A G Lamplugh. By the window is Squadron Leader Ernest Johnston (Deputy Master). Seated, going clockwise: Tommy Rose, unknown, Ted Jones (?), Bill Lawford, Charles Barnard, Charles Kingsford-Smith, the Master, A S Wilcockson, J P ‘Paddy’ Saul, L A Wingfield (Clerk), Berk Hinkler (?), G P Olley and L A Walters. Standing right (starting at the back): Wally Hope, a Charles Kingsford-Smith crew member, C A Pike, Squadron Leader R de Haga Haig and G M Cox. 6 committee was appointed to consider Rules for Air Traffic in the vicinity of aerodromes. An employment bureau for pilots and navigators was established. The Guild set up a committee to consider and make recommendations on flying instructors’ qualifications. Subsequently, it set up its own Panel of Examiners and began to issue Instructors’ Certificates. Then, just as everything seemed to be going so well, tragedy struck. The airship R.101 crashed near Paris en route to India. Among the dead were the Guild’s first Master, Sir Sefton Brancker, the Deputy Master, Squadron Leader Ernest Johnston, Court Member Lieutenant Commander Noel Atherstone and Honorary Member M A Giblett. The R.101 accident had a fundamental effect not only upon the Guild but also on the future of British civil aviation. It had been assumed until then that airships would play an important part in operating long-distance commercial air routes. Despite this setback, and the economic recession of the 1930s, the Guild returned to its task with renewed determination. Aviation had never been so popular, as public confidence in air travel grew with improved overall flight safety and the emergence of greater in-flight comforts. Another opportunity to demonstrate the worth of the Guild came in 1931, when the Flying Instructors’ Certificates scheme was approved by the Air Ministry, providing Guild examiners passed a test at the RAF Central Flying School. The following year, the Air Ministry made it compulsory for instructors have their ‘B’ Licences endorsed by them, an endorsement only possible on the production of a Guild Certificate. In 1937, a joint committee was set up between the Guild and the newly formed British Airline Pilots Association to deal with matters of common concern affecting airline pilots. The two organisations continued to differ in policy and constitution, which resulted in dual representations before Government departments, Boards and Committees. The year 1938 was another busy one for the Guild. As a result of the complexity of civil aircraft, an Airline Pilots’ Committee was set up to deal with the problems faced by this group. The Air Pilots’ Guild of New Zealand was affiliated to the Guild and the Institute of Australian Pilots and Air Navigators established. A Branch of the Guild was formed at Southampton, indicative of the flying boat operations in the area. The Guild’s Flying Instructors’ Certificate Scheme was extended to Singapore. Second World War (1939-1945) The declaration of war in 1939 brought about an unwelcome interruption to flying, just as civil aviation was becoming firmly established with regular commercial services. The Second World War brought commercial flying across Europe and beyond virtually to an end until hostilities ceased. The Guild had only in been existence for ten years when the war began. Much had been achieved in the decade and the Guild’s scope and influence had extended overseas. Notwithstanding, the Guild was forced to suspend much of its work, including the issue of Instructors’ Certificates, until the war was over. During the interregnum, a wartime committee handled the Guild’s affairs until 1944. As in 1914, the advent of war brought with it a huge acceleration in aviation development. The involvement of aviation as part of the war effort was to push aircrew, aircraft and the industry as a whole into the public psyche. The amount of technical progress achieved during the wartime years was immense both in terms of aircraft design and performance. Men and materials were moved by air on a global scale, there were trans-oceanic flights, operations in almost all weathers, radar, improved radio – and the use of automatic flight equipment – and Frank Whittle’s gasturbine engine was flight tested. Thoughts were turning to what would happen in post-war aviation as early as 1942. The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, sent a message to the Guild’s Annual General Meeting stressing that the whole future of civil aviation would have to be recast after the war. He foresaw that the Guild would play an extremely important role in its reestablishment. It was a future that the Grand Master would not live to see. He died on active service a few months later when his Sunderland flying boat crashed on a hillside near Dunbeath, Scotland. Anticipating the conclusion of the war, the Government set up a committee under Lord Brabazon of Tara to recommend aircraft types required by Britain when hostilities ceased. Guild representatives sat on a number of Air Ministry committees to study civil aerodrome lighting and post-war accident procedures. Discussions took place on the licensing of flying instructors, transport pilots and navigators, signals planning, flight safety, maps, flight deck arrangement, the handling qualities of civil aircraft, education and training. With the end of war in 1945, the Guild set about tackling the problem of the transition of crews from military to civil flying and to facilitate their qualification for the necessary licences. The Air Ministry distributed 10,000 copies of the Guild’s booklet ‘Your Future in Civil Aviation’ to Service messes. In 1946, the Guild’s Flying Instructors’ Certificate Scheme was re-instated. Civil Aviation Boom (1946-1952) Post-war, new types of aircraft came into service, purpose-built airliners that offered increased performance, capacity and reliability when compared with their pre-war counterparts. Whereas military might was scaling down, civil air transport was about to become big business, opening up commercial traffic on a scale never seen before. More significantly, the boundaries were constantly being pushed into the next technological phase and the next genre of aircraft. Pilots and navigators were required to keep pace with these developments, coming as they did with an increase in responsibilities and flying standards. The sophistication of aircraft, flying at faster cruising speeds in more crowded airspace, also added to the workload of flight crew. The Guild reacted to the progress, and the impact it had upon the profession, by stepping up technical activities. For example, an area of disquiet was the relatively high accident rate and the methods of inquiry into aircraft accidents. The Guild expressed concern History of the Guild – continued Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sefton Brancker was Director of Civil Aviation and the Guild’s first Master. 7 History of the Guild – continued to the Air Ministry of Civil Aviation over the process and procedures following an accident; shortly afterwards the Newton Committee was set-up to inquire into workable procedures and to make recommendations. The Guild was represented on the Ministry of Civil Aviation Committee for certification of aircraft and approval of equipment, and at meetings dealing with air traffic control, let down procedures, aerodrome lighting and air safety. The Guild’s influence gained concessions on medical standards for older, more experienced pilots, as well as time concessions for new pilots to qualify for the Air Navigators’ Certificate. In 1949, new standards were established for the award of Master Air Pilot Certificates following the introduction of new grades for professional pilot licences. The Guild joined a Government Working Party dealing with anomalies in the recently published Air Navigation Regulations, and the Guild’s Employment Advice Bureau succeeded in finding employment for 106 people. To demonstrate how popular and safe flying had become, world airline passenger figures for 1953 recorded that more than 50 million people worldwide flew that year. In a major reversal of trends, more people now crossed the Atlantic by air than by sea. The Jets (1952-1962) Some credit for this confidence in air travel was initially epitomised by the introduction in 1952 of the world’s first pure jet passenger aircraft, the de Havilland Comet. The aircraft brought a revolutionary new form of transport with flying speeds of just over 500 mph. It was way ahead of rivals until a series of accidents resulted in the aircraft being grounded. It was 1958 before the Comet flew again as the modified, longer-range Comet 4, just in time to claim being the first commercial jet service to cross the Atlantic, but too late to prevent the rival American Boeing 707 jetliner from capturing the passenger jet market. By now, the Guild had established itself as a highly respected body with a strong reputation for supporting the profession. It seemed fitting, therefore, that the Guild was honoured in 1956 by being granted Letters Patent and the status of a Livery Company of the City of London. Having had its own professional standing raised, the Guild continued to work on behalf of members. One important relationship fostered at this time was with Parliament. The Guild’s Parliamentary Committee met Members of both Houses to offer informed technical opinion based on the professional experience of civil pilots and air navigators. The rapport with Parliament enabled the Guild to play a full part in dealing with the problems of national and international importance to civil aviation. By 1958, the surplus of post-war Service-trained pilots had been absorbed through an increase in demand for passenger flights. In what was to become a familiar cycle of feast and famine in terms of the supply and demand for civil aircrew, the Guild expressed concern at the shortage of pilots and the need to establish a College of Flying in parallel with the College of Aeronautics. The College, the Guild recommended, should produce fully trained pilots, offering an elementary flying training school and post-graduate courses where pilots could study aviation as a business. Sadly, a College of Flying did not emerge, but many of the components are now available through professional flying schools and university courses. Summing up the progress of the period, Sir Frederick Tymms, a venerated Master of the Guild (1957-59), spoke at length at the Guild’s 1959 Annual This Court meeting held in July 1953 shows the Master, D A Brice, in the chair. In the picture (seated from left) is Captain J C Herrington (Warden), Captain N C Green (Warden), Lawrence Wingfield (Clerk), J Lankester Parker (Immediate Past Master), the Master, Major J L B Cordes (Secretary), Mrs Bernot (secretary to the Secretary), and Captain M R Aries (Warden and the Assistant Honorary Treasurer). Standing (from left) Captain O P Jones (Assistant), Air Commodore R W Ryan (Honorary Medical Officer), Wing Commander J L Mitchell (Service Member), Captain B G Frost (Assistant), Captain A G Lamplugh (Assistant), L Malec (Associate Member), C H Willis (Assistant and Honorary Treasurer), K G Bergin (Associate Member and Honorary Medical Officer), Flight Lieutenant P C Lucas (Assistant), Squadron Leader J C C Taylor (Assistant) and Squadron Leader F Murphy (Test Pilot Section). As a pilot himself, the Grand Master, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, took a practical interest in the Guild. He presided at a Court meeting held on 7 July 1960, which took place at the Guild’s first offices at 14 South Street, Park Lane. The Grand Master said at the meeting that he was pleased to hear of the progress of the Test Pilot Section and the Panel of Examiners. Seated at the table is (from left): Rev Leslie Wright (Chaplain), Captain B C Frost (Warden), K G Bergin (Master), the Grand Master, Wing Commander C A ‘Clem’ Pike (Warden), E Brian Trubshaw (Warden), Captain J T Percy (Warden), J Lankester Parker (Chairman of the Benevolent Fund Board of Management), Captain M R Aries (Warden), Sir Alan Cobham (Assistant), A M A Majendie (Assistant) and Captain E L Gostling (Assistant). Standing from left: J C F Ritchie (Assistant), O P Jones (Past Deputy Master), D J Turner (Assistant), Captain A Caesar-Gordon (Assistant), Captain T H Farnsworth (Assistant), Captain A S Wilcockson (Assistant), V C Varcoe (Assistant and Hon. Clerk), Captain N C Green (Assistant), Squadron Leader F R Leatherdale (Assistant), L W Wenman (Chairman, Panel of Examiners) and Captain D F Satchwell (Assistant). General Meeting of the challenges, in particular, that supersonic flight would bring to pilots and navigators. Even as the second generation of civil jet aircraft was just beginning to enter service, manufacturers and operators were looking ahead to the day when airliners might be capable of cruising at twice or three times the speed of sound. Sir Frederick rightly saw how the future might look and urged the Guild to wholeheartedly participate in the development. Shrinking World (1962-1979) The Sixties was boom time for mass passenger travel as the world’s first widebodied aircraft rolled off the production line. The Boeing 747 transformed longdistance flying, could carry nearly 500 passengers, three or four times the number of previous aircraft and provided transport that was comfortable, safe and cheap. The British and French worked together on a joint venture, which later was to be called Concorde. Suddenly, the world was getting a lot smaller. By 1962 the increase in light aircraft movements prompted the Guild to express concern to the Ministry of Aviation over the need to raise flying instructional standards and for the introduction of regular examinations for certificate renewal, rather than qualifying on hours flown in the previous years. The Guild’s Panel of Examiners published ‘Flight Briefing for Pilots’ in two volumes, to help pilots refresh their knowledge of theory in preparation for the licence renewal tests. The Guild further submitted a paper to an independent advisory committee set up by the Government to study Aviation Safety. And a 1963 paper on air navigation, which highlighted the potentially serious deficiencies of terminal aids throughout the world, was sent to the Ministry of Aviation and other aviation bodies. A matter of grave concern to the Guild in 1970, was civil aviation security with an increased number of hi-jacking, hostage-taking and attacks on both passengers and aircraft on the ground. As a consequence, stringent security measures were introduced at airports and by the airline operators. Procedures included searching passengers and scanning baggage and cargo at the point of departure. Not surprisingly, the technical work of the Guild was once again intensified to keep pace with developments, crises and the sheer complexity of issues affecting the aircrew fraternity. The Guild found itself increasingly in demand as the value of its unbiased contributions on technical and professional matters became more widely appreciated. A priority for the Guild was to fulfil its obligations through work and to uphold the technical standards and values of the profession. Another sphere of involvement was the advent of Concorde and the need to ensure that the voice of the professional pilot and air navigator was heard. The Guild’s Supersonic Transport Working Group studied weather at high altitudes, transonic acceleration, deceleration and descent, and attended sonic boom trials. In response to the development of space flight, the Guild even set up a Space Section sub-committee to see whether it should be participating in the development of space flight. In the event, it has not overtly pursued the interest. The formation of the Edwards Committee of Inquiry in 1969 provided an opportunity for the Guild to submit a paper on the future of UK civil air transport. Another piece of major work came from the Guild’s Air Traffic Control committee and the drawing up of proposals for the London terminal movement area that would bring an overall improvement to safety. Time for Caution (1980-2000) During the 1980s, the scale of recurring issues weighed heavily upon professional interests. The Guild contributed to: the preparation of a paper regarding the unsatisfactory licensing system of the Airline Flying Instructor Rating that allowed a pilot to give instruction to another pilot without being the holder of a flying instructor’s rating; the operational and psychological considerations of twoengine extended range flights over remote regions; the crew complement of twoengine extended-range flights; a common agreement with the European Economic Community on a joint understanding on technical standards. In 1982, Hong Kong became the Guild’s third overseas region, joining New Zealand and Australia. The Guild also supported the case for developing the potential of the UK The Guild’s 40th anniversary was marked by cutting a celebration cake at the 1969 Trophies and Awards Reception held at the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall. Twelve founder members were present. Helping the Master, C T Farndell, to perform the task are three founder members of the Guild: (from left) Wing Commander ‘Clem’ Pike, Past Master Sir Frederick Tymms and solicitor Lawrence Wingfield, who was the Guild’s first Clerk, a post he held for 26 years. The Immediate Past Master, Captain W Baillie, looks on. Two Liverymen of the Guild were on the flight deck of British Airways’ inaugural Concorde services in January 1976, at the start of the supersonic passenger flight era. Captain Norman Todd (centre) was in command of the first London to Bahrain flight and Captain Brian Calvert (right) commanded the return service. The third member of the crew is Senior Engineer Officer John Lidiard. History of the Guild – continued 8 History of the Guild – continued 9 regions to increase airport capacity. This was in response to a Civil Aviation Authority consultative document on airport capacity until 2005, as London’s three airports were reaching the limit of their capacity. A change in airline regulation in the United States showed that lower-priced tickets, increased frequency of flights and having a choice of operator, could benefit the customer and stimulate business. While in Europe, the package holiday market soared in line with the upturn in the world economy, resulting in an increased demand for trained pilots. This period of high demand for air travel was followed by major tragedies that gave concern to members of the Guild with their implications on safety and practice: the mid-air destruction of a Pan American Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, the mistaken shooting down by Soviet fighters of a Korean Air Lines passenger aircraft and the accidental destruction by an American guided missile of an Iranian Airbus flying over the Gulf. On the military front there was Operation Desert Storm, following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, that saw the Guild’s Service members carrying out attacks on Iraq and flying military transport aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Air power had by now become the primary means to launch military campaigns, paving the way for ground or sea assaults. In 2000, an Air France Concorde crashed shortly after take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. It was the first ever accident involving a Concorde aircraft and Guild members, particularly those with Concorde flying expertise, were heavily involved in the aftermath to establish the cause. Having done so, modifications to the remaining aircraft allowed flights to be resumed. But all Concorde aircraft were withdrawn from service in 2003, following a fall in demand for seats. Today’s Guild Security was once again high on the Guild’s agenda following the atrocities of 11 September 2001. As the aviation industry closed ranks, the Guild worked alongside colleagues from other organisations to counter the slump for demand in air travel, to reduce the effects of a global economic backlash and to restore confidence in the airline business. The Guild’s response on the matter of security culminated in the preparation of a comprehensive report, ‘Aviation Security and its Effect on Flight Safety’, from the Technical and Air Safety Committee. The paper reviewed and setout the Guild’s position on aviation security, established responsibilities, offered suggestions for improvements and contributed significantly to the wider debate. The report was sent to the Minister for Aviation, the Home Office, the House of Commons Defence Committee, the Opposition security spokesman and senior civil servants with responsibility for aviation security. In considering the whole quandary of aviation security, the Guild was mindful that the vulnerability was not just confined to public transport flights. A light aircraft, it surmised, loaded with The Grand Master, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is escorted by the Master, David Proudlove, at the 1983 Trophies and Awards Banquet, held at the Mansion House. The Master, Hugh Field, receives Sir Frederick Tymms’ Past Master’s badge and silver inkstand from Group Captain E A ‘Johnny’ Johnston in 1980. Sir Frederick, who was Master of the Guild from 1957-59 and the first navigator to hold the office, felt he would not be able to use his Past Master’s badge again, owing to his increasing age. He also wanted the Guild to have the inkstand that had been given to him 49 years earlier on his departure for India to take up the post of Director Civil Aviation. Both items were placed in the Guild’s trophy cabinet. Johnny Johnston, the son of Squadron Leader Ernest Johnston, Deputy Master of the Guild 1929-30, was virtually adopted by Sir Frederick and his wife Millie, who oversaw his upbringing following his father’s death in the R.101 accident in 1930. Sir Frederick Tymms died in 1987 and Liveryman Group Captain Johnston died in 2002. The Guild’s Education and Training Committee’s Instructor sub-committee was responsible for organising the UK’s first Senior Career Flying Instructors and Chief Flying Instructors Forum at RAF Cranwell. The event, held in 2004, was aimed at establishing a professional status for career instructors and to look at their future training and qualifications. The organiser was Assistant Dorothy Pooley (centre, front row), a General Aviation Flight Instructor Examiner, who was voted the UK’s top woman pilot in 2003 by the British Women Pilots’ Association. History of the Guild – continued 10 improvised explosives could make an effective weapon, either against a ground target or when deliberately flown into an airliner. It also recorded the sobering fact that total security was not achievable in a free and democratic society. In 75 years, the Guild has been involved in practically every piece of legislation and rule change affecting aviation, adding a view or seeking a change as necessary to protect professional interests. It has established flying scholarships and bursaries to encourage a new generation of pilots and launched a pilot aptitude-testing programme for candidates wishing to enter the profession. An improved professional status and standards for General Aviation career flying instructors is being sought, following a Guild-inspired Instructors’ Forum held at RAF Cranwell in 2004. The Guild has also contributed to the Government’s debate that will map-out UK air transport for the next 30 years. Many of the issues being tackled by the Guild today are not new, but they can appear so given the constant progress of equipment, procedures, environment and the effect of international politics. The consequence is that the Guild’s two main committees – the Technical and Air Safety Committee and the Education and Training Committee – are fully engaged for the foreseeable future. Members’ own knowledge of technical affairs is supplemented through the Guild’s two acclaimed annual lectures given in memory of Sir Frederick Tymms and Sir Alan Cobham. A wideranging programme of technical visits is arranged for members, including some to the Guild’s eleven Affiliated Units from the Armed Services. The Guild continues to maintain contact with aircraft manufacturers, operators and aviation regulatory bodies. Each new aircraft brings with it a whole new range of issues affecting pilots and the rules under which they operate. Aircraft such as the Boeing 7E7, the Airbus A380, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and BAE Systems’ joint venture now entering service with the Royal Air Force, the Eurofighter Typhoon, are among the most recent examples on the civil and military front. Pushing out the envelope still further, the Guild has taken wary note of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (UAV) that are being used for covert surveillance missions in a military context. While the possibility of commercial passenger aircraft being flown without a pilot on board may seem fanciful, cargo aircraft could indeed be suitable candidates. Perhaps, therefore, the ‘pilot’ of the future could be the man who programmes the computer and controls the aircraft while being seated in a ground control centre. Aviation, as the Guild is only too keenly aware, is truly a world of the unexpected.