Communication between flying student and instructor was difficult to achieve over noise produced by the airplane’s motor. If the instructor was in the front cockpit, he gestured with hand signals to supplement oral commands shouted into the slipstream. From the rear cockpit he would pound on the student and, if necessary, reduce power so that his shouts could be heard. Some enterprising folks tied ropes to the arms of the front seat occupant and steered him by “gee and hawing” like reins on a horse. The British flying school at Gosport, England developed a device whereby the instructor shouted into a funnel-like arrangement having a rubber tube divided by a “Y” which connected to ear pieces in the student’s helmet. This device became known as the “Gosport Tube” and most American pilots trained under the Gosport System believed to this date the communication device was the essential element of the system. Amazingly, the Gosport continued to be used in military training through World War II. Although it was better than nothing, the instructor had to shout into the speaking tube and then look up into the rear view mirror in an attempt to ascertain whether the cadet heard him. After five students and five hours of that, the instructor’s voice sometimes began to get weary. Worse than that, the conscientious instructor was always concerned that the cadet might think he was being scolded perpetually, which is not conducive to good morale. How would you like to be shouted at all the time?
Radio-Guy Museum Collection