December 13, 2022
Here’s a quick installment from Microsoft Flight Sim, about an airplane that – unless you live in the UK and trained for the RAF – you may never have heard of: the Grob G115E Tutor T1.
Why is the Grob Tutor interesting? Because since 1998 it’s been the primary elementary training aircraft for the UK armed forces, in which pilots (many of them still in university) first learn to fly.
So I’m here (virtually at least) at RAF Wittering near Peterborough in the English Midlands, where the 16th Squadron trains new pilots and the 115th Squadron trains flight instructors in the Grob Tutor.
The most unusual thing about the Grob Tutor, which you notice right away, is that the primary pilot’s position is on the right, not the left.
This isn’t just because it’s England. It’s because they want the students to eventually transition into military-style jets, which (even in the US) have their throttle controls on the left, and a right-hand-controlled stick.
Apart from this, the Grob Tutor is quite similar to primary trainers in the US. It has a similar 180hp engine to the Cessna 172, and nearly identical takeoff, climb, cruise, and landing speeds.
One interesting thing – and maybe someone from the UK will correct me if I’m wrong – the standard unassigned VFR transponder code in the UK is 7000, not 1200 as in the US.
Alright, time to takeoff from RAF Wittering. I have to admit it feels very weird sitting in the right hand seat – though I’m sure some of you who are CFIs here in the US have gotten used to it.
The Grob Tutor has fixed landing gear. To be honest, taking off feels strikingly similar to a Cessna 172.
Flying over nearby Burghley House, the 16th Century home of Queen Elizabeth I’s Lord High Treasurer Sir William Cecil. The historic mansion is not quite rendered in MSFS 2020, but the grounds look nice.
Grob is actually a German company. Founded in 1971, it originally made gliders, but now also focuses on trainer aircraft.
The Grob Tutor is also used as an introductory military trainer by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Finland, Kenya, Norway, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates.
Unlike most civilian trainers, the Tutor is certified for acrobatics, an important part of military training.
I wonder whether the residents of Peterborough will notice.
Sadly, the main attraction in Peterborough, the medieval cathedral, isn’t modeled either right now. But the city itself looks nice.
I almost forgot to mention that, unlike a Cessna 172, the Grob Tutor has a constant speed propeller, so students get introduced to that – and the difference between manifold pressure and RPM – right off the bat.
Other than that, landing is almost identical to a Cessna 172. Well, except for the fact that you’re sitting on the right. Lucky I’ve driven a car before in the UK.
The Grob Tutor is in the process of being replaced by an upgraded version, the Grob Prefect, that has a 456 hp turbocharged engine. (That must be kind of wild, learning to fly in such a high-powered machine). But the Tutor is still being used, in the meantime.
The Grob Tutor may not be the most famous or glamorous airplane in the world (Spitfire next to me, ahem), but it is interesting to see what British military cadets experience, taking their first steps to becoming brand new pilots.