Father and Son Pilots Training for War

Father and Son Pilots Training for War

Father and Son Pilots Training for War

Award winning father and son duo, Richard and Michael Pickin, will be pilots training for war displaying the aircraft used by Luftwaffe and RAF Battle of Britain pilots during the Second World War at this year’s Festival of Flight. They will be taking to the skies in a Tiger Moth and Jungmann Bü 131 ‘Young Man’.

The trainee pilots on these aircraft in the 1930s probably had little idea of what they would face during 1940 and throughout the war. Would things have changed if they knew their odds of surviving? Almost certainly not. The sense of service and the spirit of youth was strong but as the young men of both sides looped and rolled around the sky, the clouds of war were gathering.

Tiger Moth

RAF pilots destined to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes would have typically learnt the basics of flying on the Tiger Moth before progressing to a higher performance aircraft, such as the Harvard. It was not the prettiest aircraft of its day.

The Tiger Moth did not handle well compared to its contemporaries, was cold and draughty, even by open cockpit standards. Although easy to fly, it was difficult to fly well and had the unflattering habit of magnifying any pilot errors in handling no matter how small. No fewer than 44 RAF Elementary and Reserve Flying Training Schools in the UK were equipped with Tiger Moths between 1937 and 1954.

Jungmann Bü 131 ‘Young Man’

Luftwaffe trainee pilots would complete 100-150 hours on the Bü 131 before moving on to the more powerful Bucker Jungmeister Bü 133 “Young Master” for an additional 50 hours training. As the war progressed, the number of hours flown was greatly reduced and other training aircraft were pressed in to service.

The Bucker Jungmann Bü 131 “Young Man” is a sturdy and agile conventional tandem open-cockpit aircraft with a fixed undercarriage. The fuselage was constructed from rugged steel tubing covered with fabric whilst the wings were built from wood, again covered with fabric. Most of Germany’s top aces, including Adolf Galland and Werner Molders, learnt their trade in this aircraft.

Formidable flying duo

Richard and his son Michael share a passion for flying and aviation history.

Richard’s first experience of flight was in a light aircraft around the Isle of Wight during a weekend away with his parents. He became hooked and started volunteering at one of the flying clubs at Biggin Hill before joining the Tiger Club based at Redhill.

Developing his aerobatic skills, Richard went on to win many competitions and has represented the UK. From the 1990s onwards, he was a regular performer at Biggin Hill air shows and on most occasions was accompanied by his son Michael.

Michael was introduced to flying at a very young age; he won his first aerobatic competition aged fourteen, soloed six different types of aircraft on his sixteenth birthday, and gained his Private Pilot’s License on his seventeenth birthday.

UK National Aerobatic Champion

Michael caught the aerobatic bug from his dad and under his mentoring has gone on to win numerous competitions, including being the youngest ever UK National Aerobatic Champion. He is a regular participant on the airshow circuit, with the Global Stars formation aerobatic team and also pilots the Boeing Stearman for his dad’s wing walking business. When he’s not flying light aircraft he keeps himself busy flying Boeing 757 and 767 on both short haul and long haul routes.

Come along and catch all the action at the Festival of Flight 2018.