Originally started to identify enemy aircraft in times of war, aircraft recognition has developed into a skill and is a project run in many squadrons throughout the Region. In this project, cadets learn about both military and civilian aircraft, what their features are, and how to identify them.
Aircraft recognition is a real challenge. New aircraft and changing aircraft designs are adding to the list of aircraft to be recognized; it is a continuous process. This ever-changing situation poses a real challenge for those who teach visual aircraft recognition. Perhaps the biggest problem in recognition has been teaching it in an effective and realistic fashion.
A basic introduction to aircraft recognition is provided in the air cadet training syllabus, where diagrams and questions on RAF aircraft are given in the classification exams.
To further test the cadets, there is an annual aircraft recognition competition at Wing, Region and Corps level, with each team consisting of 3 cadets from the same unit plus an individual cadet.
Troops must be trained to be proficient in quick aircraft recognition. Hostile low-flying aircraft may appear suddenly from behind low hills, over trees, or through haze. High-speed aircraft are difficult to identify. Accurate visual recognition of aircraft is essential to Stinger personnel in making their engagement decision. It is vital that recognition be swift and accurate. Team members should be experts at recognizing all friendly and potentially hostile aircraft expected to be operating at low altitudes in a specified combat zone. Each team member should approach 100 percent recognition accuracy with 90 percent being a minimum acceptable level of proficiency.
Practicality dictates that aircraft recognition training be conducted using picture images of the aircraft to be learned. Two basic methods for presenting images are the use of the ground observer aircraft recognition (GOAR) kit, and TEC lessons designed for aircraft recognition training. In addition, graphic training aids (GTA), such as printed cards and charts, are useful supplements to the GOAR kit and TEC lessons.