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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) (2:40 AM) . - In conversation with certain former Air Force officers, who are now engaged in civilian flying, several suggestions were made, which I considered sensible and valuable. Thi3 clause, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) pointed out in his second-reading speech, has to do with the formation of a Citizen Air Force made up particularly of trainees transferred from other technical units. During the second-reading stage I expressed the opinion that much good might be accomplished by the introduction of men who have been trained in piloting aeroplanes under war conditions, and who were now daily engaged in civilian aviation; that is, if they could be brought within the scope of the Air Force scheme, so that their services might be immediately availed of in the event of war. There are numbers of returned officers, experienced air -pilots, who are now engaged in making regular flights, so that they are still closely in touch with active aviation. Will it not be possible to enrol these men in the terms of their own suggestion? They pointed out to me that the great difficulty with a Citizen Air Force composed of trainees entirely would be owing to their lack of actual and continuous training in the air. I was given to understand that even -the most skilful war-time pilots are not likely to be of much immediate' use unless they have remained in continuous touch with flying. It has been said that some of the accidents which have recently occurred were duc to the fact that the pilots had not maintained their active experience. The majority of former Air- Force pilots now actively engaged in civil flying would be available .and willing to give their services during a continuous period of training, for a month or a little more, during each year.

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