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Royal New Zealand Air Force



A useful part, supplementary to the activities of the Air Force, was played by aero clubs in the training of pilots. Since the beginning of club flying in New Zealand in 1929 and 1930, the Government had recognised the value of the training they gave by paying the clubs £25 for each pilot trained to ‘A’ Licence standard and by helping to provide aircraft. In 1937 this policy was reviewed. The ‘A’ Licence standard was too low to be of much practical value, and in numerous cases the State got no return for the subsidy, since many of the trainees were not medically fit for service and commercial flying. In addition it was found that most of the clubs were running at a loss and were on the verge of bankruptcy.

The basic training given by the clubs was potentially of great value in preparing pilots for the Air Force, and in order to get the best possible results the whole scheme of financial assistance was changed.

In addition a Civil Reserve of Pilots was instituted; it was open to candidates who reached the required standard of education and physical fitness and who volunteered to serve in the RNZAF in case of emergency. The Government agreed to pay for the initial flying training of civil reservists, which was fixed at forty hours in the first year and two refresher courses of ten hours each in the succeeding years.

The numbers to be trained by the clubs under these schemes were limited to fifty Air Force candidates and one hundred civil reservists each year. It was hoped by these means not only to help the expansion of the RNZAF, but also to build up a reserve of pilots who could be converted to higher-powered aircraft when required.

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The scheme was under the general supervision of the Air Member for Personnel, Group Captain Isitt. Flight Lieutenant Burrell1 was appointed Superintendent of Reserves and, under the direction of Isitt, he co-ordinated the methods of training and testing all trainees to ensure that they reached a satisfactory standard. Two courses for aero club instructors were held at Wigram, where the latest methods of instruction were demonstrated to ensure uniformity of methods and instruction.

The scheme was reviewed in 1938, and again in 1939, when the number of civil reservists to be trained was increased from 100 to 150 per annum.

1 Wg Cdr H. B. Burrell, OBE; Norfolk Island; born Feilding, 2 Aug 1897; motor engineer.