I'm currently reading John Trotti's memoir "Phantom Over Vietnam" (which I highly recommend: it's out of print, but used copies are freely available). In it, he recounts a couple of wonderful stories about US Navy and Marine Corps flight training, which I thought I'd share with you.
The first is from the days (during and after World War II) when the SNJ (a naval variant of the North American T-6 Texan) was the primary flight training aircraft.
There is a legend floating around from the days of the mighty North American SNJ trainer about the instructor who loved to detach his control stick in the rear cockpit (a normal procedure for cross-country flights to ensure against its becoming hung up during flight), and after rapping the student on the head with it for added emphasis, would toss the stick overboard to signify that it was up to the student to take them home and land. One day, a student sneaked a spare control pole aboard so that when the instructor did his thing, the student mimed puzzlement before nodding his head in understanding. After several more moments of apparent indecision he proceeded to fumble around for a bit, before brandishing the spare stick aloft and sending it to join its cousin.
A more advanced stage of Naval flight training used (during the 1960's) the Grumman TF-9J Cougar, a twin-seat advanced training version of a 1950's jet fighter.
There is an "old-timer" tale in the training command about a Navy lieutenant junior grade with a penchant for becoming highly agitated in the air, often venting his frustrations over the radio. Students were terrified to fly with him, and his fellow instructors were getting so tired of the streams of vituperation that poured forth over the headsets day after day that finally a group decided to take matters into their own hands. When it came time to embark on a four-plane formation flight, instructors rather than students manned the cockpits.
As the airplanes taxied away from the flight line, instructors, students, and all the off-duty squadron personnel in the area crowded around the ready-room base radio to listen in on the fun. They hadn't long to wait. Immediately after takeoff, the flight switched onto its assigned tactical frequency in preparation for the initial flight rendezvous, but instead of making orderly, stabilized approaches towards the instructor's plane, they took turns making kamikaze runs from all directions and in all attitudes. The airwaves were alive with graphic epithets.
"What are you doing? . . . You're too hot! Wave it off! Wave it off! Watch your angle-off, Dash Three. Don't let it . . . don't . . . oh God, he's inverted! Dash Three's making an inverted rendezvous! You can't do that!"
And finally after ten minutes of screaming came pleading and swearing: "Go home, you miserable bastards, go home! You've all got downs! I'll get you all washed out of the program unless . . . ohhhhh sheeeit, HERE THEY COME AGAIN!"
The instructor came roaring into the ready room, eyes ablaze, set to skin a bunch of students alive, only to be greeted with the loud guffaws that accompanied the first of hundreds of replays of the tape. Realizing that he'd been had, our erstwhile hero fled from the ready room in full retreat.
That must have been fun . . .