We were now posted to Pool Flight, from which were drawn all the replacement needs. While at Pool Flight we had the opportunity of flying the latest single-seater fighter aircraft. Here I got my hand in on the Bristol Monoplane, the Sopwith Pup, Nieuport Scout and Bristol Scout, all rotary engined aircraft. The S.E. 5 came into the picture at stage , but I never got a chance to fly one. We only got the one, and it was damaged by the time my turn came around.
We also had an opportunity of getting in some camera practice, in the air. Regulations required that we carry a safety pilot with us whenever we took off for gun camera practice. This, so that we would not collide with our prey; being absorbed to the full in getting our target lined up in looking down the gun barrel sights. The safety Pilot was to keep us a safe distance away, taking over when necessary. Of course we had to have one collision take place before this measure was thought of.
Out of this rabble constituting Pool flight grew the School of Aerial Fighting. Fortunately for me, I was one of the fully trained pilots on hand at the time so it was quite logical that I should be grabbed for one of the jobs at this school. My stay at S.A.F., just two months, was all too short. I enjoyed this work immensely, it was sort of a membership in a team, competing in an exciting dangerous sport. We, the Instructors had to keep on our toes, the final test of our work was the final bout between ourselves and our pupils armed with gun camera flying solo.
The issue here was, could we afford to let a student record direct hits with his gun camera and thus show up our evasive tactics and flying, or should we fly rings around him and send him back to earth with a blank film. Arguments waged long and loud in the Mess at nights, and I don't think the right answer was ever decided upon, but I do recall wagers on the best group of shots for the day. The winner of course being the one with the best concentrated spray in vulnerable spots. These winners were usually active participants in sports and had "above average" flying ability. Even at this stage in flying training, the value of participation in active sports of all kinds was becoming evident.
Up to now, flying training followed no set pattern, each Instructor used his own method and consequently there was a lot of wasted time in the air. Some would spend hours on landings, with the pupil only in control on the actual landing. Hence the pupils could make beautiful landings consistently but were hopeless in the air, and would not even venture a turn to the right. Anyhow it was not the kind of training that "active service" Pilots Should have. From this hopeless inadequacy in training, developed the need for a standardized form of instruction. And so, the "Gosport system" was inaugurated in the formation of the Flying Instructors School (F.I.S) . This school was located on a new 'drome just a few miles South of Heliopolis.
I had had considerable front seat flying at S.A.F. and had been tested by a Lt. Dobbie, who came out from Gosport England to train and gather a staff for the new School. Out of some two dozen Instructors at S.A.F., another Canadian and myself were chosen to go to the new School. This was a big event in my short life of flying,