"Gentlemen, you're both missing the essential truth. We're short of 200 pilots, those that we have are tired, strained and all overdue for relief. We're fighting for survival, losing. We don't need a big wing, or a small wing. We need pilots...and a miracle...Good night gentlemen" Battle of Britain film, 1969
For years the RAF have done themselves a disservice by repeatedly turning to "the Few," as their primary argument against cuts. You will see letters to that effect in the papers for the next few days from retired officers. In this case however, it would be plain silly to neglect the overwhelming lesson of the Battle of Britain from the British perspective...... pilots matter more than aircraft.
The defence minister Gerald Howarth said tonight that we needed fewer pilots because we have fewer operational aircraft than earlier anticipated. The passing observer may indeed concur that fewer pilots are the order of the day, then again, he may not. Is not the pragmatic thing to do though, to finish the cycle of long and expensive training that these volunteer airmen undergo so at least they leave the service as qualified pilots and are not just thrown onto the street with the onerous task of finding the large amounts of money required to finish their training and convert to civilian aircraft? There is more value in completion and inviting them to join the reserve rather than pursuing yet more ill thought out insanity. Indeed, make service in the reserve a requirement for those wishing to complete their training. If our most dedicated enemies were putting the current policy together they would be hard pushed to do a better job, it's utter madness and there is absolutely no value proposition here for the weary taxpayer.
I know exactly where this is heading and it won't be in the least amusing..........
Elaine Dickinson: There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
Rumack: The life of everyone on board depends upon just one thing: finding someone back there who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner.