An Interview With
Herr Hermann Becker
Director of the Deutsche V crkehrsfiicgerschule
Richard M. Mock
In charge of Design and Construction at the Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke
AS is well known. Germany has no military aviation and, for that reason, much of the money and effort that would
normally he spent for the training and education of military and naval pilots can be diverted to the development of
men for commercial work.
The work of training these pilots is entrusted to the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule. usually called the D.V.S. for
short. This organization, which has been in existence some four years, works in close cooperation with the operating
companies employing its graduates. Principal among these is the German Luft Hansa. though many of the men find
positions in other companies and abroad.
As German aviation is assisted by the government in the form of a subsidy, there is a goodly number of applicants
each year to take these training courses. Therefore there must be considerable weeding out in order to select the
best men for the complete course.
The flying course given by the "D.V.S." for full transport license are divided into two groups, one for land pilots and
the other for seaplane pilots. The land course is three years, full time, while the sea course is four. The first year and
a half the two courses are identical and in that time fundamentals in land planes, seaplanes and flying boats is given.
All through the entire course of study a great deal of time for both land and water pilots, is devoted to navigation and radio, so that when the men finish they not only have the highest commercial pilots' license but also the qualifications of a second-class marine navigator and radio operator second class. Though it cannot be said that the school is run on a military basis, there is considerable discipline. All men are residents at the school and though they are given considerable freedom and frequent leaves in the complete course of instruction, many of the students spend much time "confined to the boundaries of the flying field" or: "confined to quarters." As in the States, flying time is one of the major prerequisites for advanced license the strictest disciplinary measure is to ground a man ("startverbot") from one to thirty days. A man is often requested to leave the school after he has been grounded a second time.
Naturally, since the finances of the school are quite limited, there must he a great deal of selection in reviewing the applicants to insure that only the most promising students are retained. Though the school is subsidized, each student must also undergo considerable expense and for that reason only the financially able can complete the course. The financing of the school may be compared to that of an endowed university operating under high expenses and endeavoring to have its students chosen from the best of the country's young men. In German opinion, it is not possible for a private owner to run a flying school on an economic basis without subsidy, and give a thorough aeronautical education. The German schools operate under a high expense using large transport machines of high power, similar to the planes the men will later fly with in traffic.
After they enter the school all students are on the same financial basis. Each student must pay his own living expenses at the school. This amounts to 165 marks a month (actually this is about $40.00. though the purchasing power is close to $80.00). From this the student gets 25 marks for spending money, with the rest for board, room, clothes, books, etc. This is quite expensive for the average German young man who is not able to earn anything for so long a period. If a student is a very promising pilot he can borrow money from the school and pay it back later at the rate of 10 per cent when he has secured a position as a pilot. Each student must pay 5.000 marks ($1,200) for flying instruction for his first license, called "A" for land machines. The financial subsidy of the school comes from the budget of the Ministry for Transportation and covers the instruction for higher licenses.
All courses at the "D.V.S." are directed toward the obtaining of pilot's licenses of either "A." "B." or "C" grade. "A" license is for machines up to 2.600 lb. gross weight and is limited to private flying. License '"B" is for airplanes up to 5.500 lb. gross weight and might be said to correspond in some ways to the American Limited Commercial License except that the pilot may fly passengers in traffic with machines of this weight. The "C" license is for planes over 5.500 lb. gross weight and can be compared with the American Transport License since it is the highest license and it allows one to fly passengers in traffic with heavy airplanes. In addition, there are intermediate or limited licenses for each class to permit a student of one class to take training in planes of the next higher class.
Headquarters of the "D.V.S." are in Braunschweig, in west Germany. Here some 700 to 1,000 applications for flying instruction are received each year. To each of the applicants papers are sent outlining the courses and stating the prerequisites for entering. There are three main categories of entrance requirements. Under the first category (candidates for transport "C" license), the student must be a high school graduate and have the same credentials as required for entrance in a university. He must also have a speaking knowledge of English, though now Spanish is being accepted as an alternative. It is believed that the great airlines of the future will go to English and probably Spanish speaking countries.
The secondary category includes men witih chiefly a mechanical education. They must first go to the "D.V.S." mechanics school and then pass a social examination at Braunschweig. This examination is somewhat easier than that equivalent to the first requirement under category one. Though it is considered an advantage to know English or Spanish, a language is not required. These men are only eligible for "B" license and therefore their flying training takes only two years. These men receive free room and board and in addition 12 marks a week. To continue with schooling most men under category two must borrow money which they return after they have completed their instruction and are working.
The last category is made up of a group which includes aircraft engineers, motor engineers,
and lawyers specializing in aeronautics. They take a one-year course to quality them for "A"
license and the intermediate "B." For this limited "B" license they must fly 3.000 miles and
may then pilot "B" machines though not in traffic. In addition to the above, the D.V.S. pre-
pares for "B" license the air port police which are stationed at every flying field in Germany.
For the Lufthansa and other traffic companies, they also train for "B" license a number of
radio men. mechanics, etc.. who will later fly in traffic in these capacities. Besides these a
number of ground mechanics and radio men are also given instruction.
Physically all students must pass an athletic examination before presenting themselves at the
school. Athletic examinations are Standardized over all Germany and
are divided into three
classes, bronze, silver and gold. The first, that for the bronze metal, is the most difficult and is
required for all students up to 30 years old. Above 30 they may take the examination for the
silver medal and above fifty the gold. The age range for flying students is 18 to 26. If they
successfully pass all of the above, the candidates go to Berlin to take another physical
examination under a Dr. Koschel, a pilot, who alone examines all students. Almost 15 percent
of the applicants do not pass this physical examination. Then the men are subjected to a
psychological examination to determine their adaptness to become an airplane pilot; this
again eliminates about 10 per cent of the applicants. From the 700 to 1,000 applications
each year for category one .some 100 are chosen to present themselves at Braunschweig
for an interview. After the interviews and physical examinations some 70 to 100 students go
to the school at Braunschweig in the middle of March to begin the course. During this time
the school authorities are given a better opportunity to become acquainted with the men.
The first four weeks are devoted chiefly to athletics and some work around the planes.
men are each taken up for a few flights by two of the most experienced instructors who
must report on the reactions of every student. After about four weeks most of the students are sent away and only about 25 remain to continue the course.
In the middle of April these 25 go to Neustadt in Kolstein on the Sea. This is near Lübeck, on the Baltic. They remain there for about six months undergoing intense physical training, living on the water nearly all the time and at the same time studying the fundamentals of radio and navigation. They do not fly. but spend most of their time on the water in small lx»ats and later make two or three long trips of some weeks in large schooners. They visit Sweden, Norway,. Denmark,. Danzig and Finland. All of this time they live quite the same as sailors. Toward the end of September they take their examinations and though, most usually pass, occasionally one or two drop out. This examination is about the same as for coastwise maritime pilots.
In the beginning of October the men go back to Braunschweig and begin their first flight training. They remain their about six months during which they spend three months in the shops and three more months in receiving instruction on land machines. This prepares them for "A" license which corresponds to our private license. At the same time the students receive a theoretical ground course under the direction of a special engineering instructor in addition to their other teachers. This includes airplane theory, engine theory, meteorology navigation with instruments (map reading, dead reckoning, etc., no celestial navigation at this time) and air laws and regulations. The men get about 30 hr. flying time before taking the "A" examination. This examination consists of three spot landings in a space 50x250 yd. without rolling outside of this area. The candidate must climb to 6,000 ft. and stay there one hour and must also make two small cross-country trips of 100 km. (63 mi.) and then a final cross-country trip of 300 km. ( 190mi.). On this last cross-country trip the student must make two landings at fields unknown to him but marked on a map given to him just before he starts. An official is at each field to certify the landing. It is required to make a dead stick landing from 3,000 ft. over the field and land on the field without using the throttle. The student must also fly over the field at 1.500 ft. and when a Very pistol is shot from the ground he must close the throttle and make a spot landing in the same area as mentioned above. This instruction is given chiefly to prepare the student in case of engine failure. This primary training is made with Flamingo biplane, powered with Siemens engine.
About the first of April, after some 13 months of training, the students begin on a 5.000-km. (3.100-mi.) cross-country solo flight to acquaint them with all of Germany. As the country is not very large, this usually means visiting many places twice. It gives each man about 50 hr. flying time and takes about two months. means visiting many places twice. It gives each man about 50 hr. flying time and takes about two months. The entire cross-country trip is planned to include all kinds of weather and flying conditions.
Toward the end of May or the beginning of June the group goes to Warnemunde for seaplane training under the direction of Mr. Becker. Warnemunde is located on the Baltic and is fortunate in having a good sized inland lake separated from the sea by a strip of land on which is the flying school, the flying field and the factory of the Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke. Warnemünde is the only German seaplane base with a concrete runway to the open sea enabling its pilots to fly in the winter time, the inland lake is frozen. The Heinkel works supply many of the seaplanes for the use of the school., first seaplane training is in Heinkel HD 24 twin float biplanes powered with B.M.W. IV, 230-hp. engines. After about 20 flights with an instructor the student makes about 30 solo flights before trying for an "A" license as a seaplane pilot. To get this license the student must fly over the buoys at 1,500 ft. and cut his gas and land along side the buoys not more than 50 yd. away. The plane must first make three spot landings on the water in an area outlined by five buoys laying in the direction of the
wind and covering about 250 yd.. The plane has a normal landing speed of 44 m.p.h. and the student is allowed six tries, three ol which must be in this area. He must then make three landings in the open sea in a sea between "two and three." This corresponds to a wind velocity of about 18 m.p.h. Each time the student must stop his engine, drop a sea anchor, start the engine again and take off. To complete the requirements for his "A" license requirements he must also make a 100-km. oversea flight with two landings at specified places. In all, the student must have about 100 flights or 15 hr. flying time in seaplanes for this license which might he compared to the private license for landplanes.
After the students have completed the requirements for the "A" license, about seven or eight of the best seamen are selected to become seaplane pilots while the others return to Braunschweig for a corresponding course with land machines. The two courses are quite similar but. as the seaplane course requires a more varied study, the latter will he described.
Those men. who are selected to remain in Warnemunde continue with the same Heinkel HD 24 machines preparing for their "B" license. It seems that in taking the various (lying examinations in Germany the pilot undergoes a certain amount of very useful training. For an intermediate "B" license a pilot must make three landings in had weather and then in a sea of at least "three to four," corresponding to a wind of about 22 m.p.h. lie must also maneuver the plane when towed by a steamer in this same heavy sea. To complete the require- ments he must make an oversea flight of 300 miles landing at two specified places and returning to his base within eight hours of the start. The student then obtains a limited "B" license which enables him to begin a-series of overseas flights in "B" machines which last the rest of the summer. These trips take them all over the Baltic; to ports in Norway. Denmark. Sweden, Danzig and, naturally, numerous places on the northern coast of Germany. During the summer, the students fly whenever the weather is good and on bad days continue with their ground training in radio, navigation (not celestial) and aviation engines. Later the student must make two night landings in a restricted area marked off by lighted buoys and in addition he must fly one hour at night. Early in October the men leave Wernemünde for a winter cruise on the German merchant marine training ship "Deutschland." There are usually about 200 merchant marine cadets on hoard and with these are about seven men from the "D.V.S." It seems that pilots do not like this cruise as they are treated like sailors the same as are the normal cadets. This cruise, for the last few years, has been going to South America returning in February when the students are allowed their first extended leave of absence in two years. This leave is usually about four weeks after which the men go to List on the Isle of Sylt in the North Sea. They stay there for the summer to take advanced training on Heinkel HE. 5 twin float, low wing seaplanes with B.M.W. 550-hp. engines. During this summer they cover some 6,000 miles in the North Sea where navigation and seamanship is more difficult than in the Baltic. They make trips to the Dutch Islands, England and Norway, and at the same time receive instruction in navigation and radio for long flights. At the end of the summer they must pass an examination in partial blind flying. From List many of the men go to the Luft Hansa as second pilots where they fly for about four to six weeks covering some 6,000 miles. in traffic.
At the end of the summer the seaplane students return to Warnemunde for special courses in radio, meteorology, engine theory, airplane theory and navigation preparing them for the theoretical portion of the examination for the final "B" license. During this time the students fly only about two afternoons a week with no cross-country work. In addition to the course in theoretical navigation the students must navigate one of the 60-ft. boats of the school between two specified points in thick weather. Later they each make six round trips on the steamers going from Warnemunde to Denmark. The students first make the trip in daylight steering the boat under the supervision of one of the school instructors who accompanies them Later they make trips at night navigating by celestial observations or in thick weather with the radio direction finder. The floats are fitted with a mechanical recording steering mechanism which shows quite well the course taken by the students. The purpose of these trips is to first let the student navigate on board ship where it is not as difficult as in flight. After the students get more advanced they make oversea flights in the Heinkel HE 9 and Heinkel HE 10 twin float low wing sea planes which are advanced machines fitted with radio directional finders, etc. These are fast planes powered with B.M.W. VI 600-hp. engines.
Toward the end of the winter, the students complete their theoretical course and have more flying time for their final "B" license. However, first they must pass an examination in navigation similar to that given for a seaman's license except that there are additional parts pertaining to flying. They must also pass a second-class radio examination given by the Radio Ministry Department. This calls for some 80 letters per minute in closed text and 100 in open text. In addition they have examinations in aerodynamics, engines and meteorology. After completing these examinations, the student returns to List to prepare for a "C" license. Here, he gets flying time with Dornier flying boats and Heinkel and Junkers seaplanes. The men must get in about 6.000 to 10,000 mi. of oversea flying, and consequently make many trips to Sweden and Norway. Those men who did not 9,000 mi. of oversea flying, and consequently make many trips to Sweden and Norway. Those men who did not get enough flying time the previous summer go as second pilots to the Luft Hansa and occasionally the students make long trips over the North Sea in Dornier Wals or Super Wals or three-engined Junkers G 24 machines on floats. On these flights the student makes his celestial observations and operates the radio apparatus alone hut usually carries an instructor as passenger. Last year Director Von Gronau of the "D.V.S." took three students with him in a Dornier Wal on a trip to the Faroer, a Danish island north of England and from there they flew to Iceland.
Sometimes, during this last summer most of the students begin looking for positions and if they obtain a position before the end of the summer they are allowed to leave the school and fly "B" machines in traffic until they have a total of 6,000 cross-country miles that is required for the final "C" license. After this, the students return to Warnemunde for the last winter during which they take additional theoretical courses that are required for "C" license. After they have completed these courses and have made three landings with one of the large multi-engined planes they receive their "C license and usually go as land pilots for the Luft Hansa to get time overland for a year or two before carrying passengers over sea. Of course many of the men go directly into the services of other .companies, such as the Scadta in South America, and thus fly seaplanes in traffic at once.
It is interesting to note the losses incurred during flying instruction. There have been no fatal losses on seaplanes since 1925. The only fatal accident was when a student was struck hy a propeller. Each year there have been a few minor accidents on the ground and those due to forced landings and sometimes bad landings. It has been stated that plane losses are more expensive with seaplanes than land machines, because of the fact that a bad landing often means total submersion and thus some- times causes the plane to be a total loss. There is almost one total seaplane loss in every 600 flying hours and one landplane loss in every 2,000 hours. However, the percentage of small and minor accidents is much more with land machines.
TRAINING OF COMMERCIAL PILOTS in Germany