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Pilot Training Selection

Heroes Remember

Pilot Training Selection

I came across a flyer, a recruitment flyer for the Royal Canadian Air Force. So I decided I would go down and had no idea what the process was for becoming a pilot, you know I thought you just go down and sign your name up and you become a pilot and I couldn't foresee there'd be any problem because I had no difficulty learning how to drive a car and to me flying an air plane was going to be very similar to that. It was a bit of a surprise and because I worked after coming out of university, I was on the upper end of the age limit for pilot training. They were just starting to use psychological tests and so on to determine your potential to succeed in pilot training. So we went off to Centralia and there we went, we were there for three weeks and we went through a battery of various tests and different exercises to see what your potential was. We did the various academic exercises and it was here that my ability in math certainly stood me in good stead and the sciences because it was heavily weighted in those areas. And there were exercises to test your leadership skills and your team work and how you could be a leader and a follower because as we were told at the time, not only were we being selected to be trained as pilots, but we would become officers in the Royal Canadian Air Force. And surprisingly, the emphasis on becoming an officer was equal to or not greater than your ability to become a pilot. And at the end of, I remember going through all these tests and you never really understood how well you'd done or how badly you'd done. There was no feedback on the day-to-day exercises but at the end of it all, all the things were tallied together and you were brought into a room and individually you were given your results. And I remember going into the room and they asked, they said, "Well, if you"... the first question which was a surprising one, it sort of threw me a bit off guard. They said, "If you are not selected for pilot, would you accept being a navigator?" And my answer was, "No." And they said, "Well, what would you do?"I said, "Well, I would go back doing engineering work." And they said, "Well, you won't have to do that because you've been accepted as a pilot." I later found out through the people that worked in the selection unit, that one of the things they had difficulty filling, where everybody who went there wanted to be a pilot, and they had to fill so many billets for aircrew which included navigators and so on, and those who said well yes I would take a navigator position, they said, great, you've been selected as a navigator. This was borne out later on because many of the people who were originally selected as navigators later be were cross-trained as pilots which indicated that it wasn't a matter of aptitude or skills or anything it was just a matter of what your reaction was to that first question.

Mr. Peters describes the level of testing he experienced before being selected for pilot training.

Walter Peters

Walter Peters, the youngest of six children, was born in Litchfield, Nova Scotia in 1937. A graduate of Mount Allison University, he worked for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age twenty-four and entering pilot training. After receiving his commission and wings, Mr. Peters enjoyed a distinguished career on many levels. He was Canada’s first black jet fighter pilot and an A1 flying instructor. He was involved in the development of the Snowbirds and later flew with them. At Trenton, Mr. Peters piloted Hercules cargo aircraft on assorted missions around the globe, and it was here that he also became the Canadian Armed Forces’ first Human Rights Officer. As advisor to the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Peters offered advice on the tactical movement of troops by air, and analysed and briefed the Council after the Russian shootdown of a Korean civilian jet in 1983. He retired holding the rank of Major.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Walter Peters
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Air Force

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