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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

​Training at No. 1 Central Navigation School - Rivers Manitoba

The following article was published in the introductory issue of Message To Base – Volume 1, No. 1, August 1943, station magazine  of No. 1 Central Navigation School in Rivers Manitoba. It explains the unique role this school plays in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan not only teaching new students the art and science of navigation, but teaching others to teach navigation in a number of other BCATP schools.
 G.I.S., which, being interpreted means Ground Instructional School, is the backbone of No. 1 C.N.S.(Central Navigation School). Therefore it was our choice this month ahead of all other sections to feature in the initial issue of M.T.B. (Message to Base).  It is our intention to feature a different section each month with a view to familiarizing everyone with the station as a whole.

G.I.S. is the seat of learning for student navigators coming to No. 1 C.N.S. for 20 weeks of instruction, as well as for bomb aimers who come from B. & G. (Bombing & Gunnery) Schools for a final six week course prior to graduation. In addition, there are four specialist courses known as the S.N.I.N.'s, SNIP's, N.l.'s and E.O.'s. SNIN's are graduate navigators who take a one month course here in specialized subjects and instructional technique. From here they are sent to the various Air Observer Schools in Canada to give instruction to student navigators. They are under the supervision of F/L Minton, F/L Murray, and F/O Smith.   
Captions: 1st Navigator (monkey on the left): MENTALLY CHECKING COURSE ALTERATION; 2nd Navigator (monkey on the right): WHERE IN THE HELL ARE WE?
​​The SNIP's are graduate pilots taking a two month course in navigation, after which they will be sent to Service Flying Training Schools to instruct student pilots in navigation methods. F/O Watson and F/O Maxwell are in charge of these courses. The N.l.'s come mostly direct from Manning Depots for a 14 week ​course in navigation, following which they are posted to Initial Training Schools. In charge of them are F/L Weaver and F/L Solin. The E.O.'s are educational officers who come to us from I.T.S.'s for a two month course in navigation. F/L Wellbourne and F/O  Tanner are the officers in charge of this course.
There are a large number of student navigators under training at all times, for the most part members of the R.A.F. (Royal Air Force), and in addition, several Air Bomber courses. Each of these courses is supervised by a navigation instructor who is responsible not only for their instruction but also for their general welfare, recreation, and discipline.
The most looked forward to thrill, generally, on the part of the navigation students is flying. It is quite a surprise to many of them to find their practical navigation is confined to the Synthetic Dead Reckoning Trainer for the first four weeks. In these trainers Navigators and Air Bombers learn how to put into practice on the ground the navigation methods they will be using in the air. The rooms are in total darkness except for a small light over each table, as in an aircraft, and by use of projections on the screen they are required to pin-point themselves, using Topographic maps. They must also familiarize themselves with all navigation methods. In addition to the normal navigation instruments, the trainers are equipped with drift recorders, altimeters, air speed indicators, compasses and radio loops. Even rough weather conditions can be duplicated in operating the drift recorder. The value of these Synthetic Trainers is their inexpensiveness in comparison to operating an aircraft. They also familiarize the students with navigation instruments, methods, etc. They are a real advantage for the instructors who may watch their students navigate step by step, correcting on the spot any particular faults.
Everyone on the station is familiar with the sight of navigators shooting celestial bodies by means of the Sextant. The sextant is a very delicate instrument by use of which the altitude of heavenly bodies may be measured. The time to the nearest second that the shot is made must be known. By referring to tables a line position can then be calculated for use in navigation. To become proficient in the use of a Sextant the student navigators must take some 450 shots in twenty
     S/L A. F. McKil!opp, Chief Ground Instructor, was snapped in a jovial mood. 
     F/L Arthur Hammond, Adjutant of Training Wing.
     Shooting the sun in style. Such comfort couldn't be duplicated in the air, boys. 
     Bomb Aimers learning to map read on the ground. 
     F/O Buckley is seen instructing some student navigators. No.1 C. N. S.

weeks, each one of which must be plotted. In the near future student navigators will be able to navigate under almost perfect air borne conditions in the new celestial link trainers. In these trainers the celestial bodies are represented by projections on the ceiling, enabling the students to shoot them with Sextants.

The big job of supervising these courses is the direct responsibility of S/L McKillop, C.G.I. (Chief Ground Instructor), the assistant C.G.I., F/L Derry, and a large staff of instructors. The instructors have been selected firstly, because of their ability as navigators, and secondly because they possess the knack of telling others. Some of them are former teachers, but the majority come from all walks of life. They are doing a fine job as a body and their work, coupled with the application, industry, and enthusiasm of the students, results in a steady flow of graduate navigators from No. 1 C.N.S. every two weeks year in and year out.

Reading from top to bottom:

F/L D. R. Derry, Assistant Chief Ground Instructor, is shown checking his watch just before taking a sun shot.
Learning how to navigate on the ground via the Synthetic D. R. trainer.
Sgt. Dixon needs no introduction at No. 1 C. N. S.
DIDIT - DA - DA - DA ... and so on far into the day.