Full stack pilots

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

The tech industry is inward looking, it tends to take inspiration from what other tech companies are doing and can miss previous solutions to problems it is facing. As well as looking at other industries these solutions can come from other periods of history.

Between the wars aviation - and particularly military aviation - was advancing at a fast pace: it's not unusual to read about new aircraft becoming obsolete six months after entering service. Whilst there's a lot of focus on the technological changes there were parallel changes in the skills required from the people involved in aviation.

In the second half of the 1930s multi-engine bombers started getting more complex to fly and were additionally expected to fly at night or in zero visibility for long distances over foreign countries. It was realised that expecting the pilot to both fly and navigate was no longer practical so the specialist role of navigator was introduced. As a result they had to change the training - whilst all pilots were given basic navigation training (dead reckoning, offsetting a course for wind, &c.) - bomber pilots were trained so that they understood the types of problems the navigator would be dealing with so, even if they couldn't solve the problems themselves, they were able to work effectively with the navigator.

Source: The Royal Air Force - Volume 2: An Encyclopedia of the Inter-War Years 1930-1939