Can a civilian in 1939 England use the general term 'airman' to describe a man who is undergoing pilot training but has not yet completed it. Or does the term 'airman' in the RAF always refer to auxiliary crew and the civilian would already be using 'pilot' to differentiate? Thanks for your advice!
A civilian who was a typical member of the public might well have used the term 'airman' to mean any person who was a pilot or member of an aircraft's flying or ground crew, whether a member of the Royal Air Force or not. Later, when the war was well under way, and mass recruitment had taken place, and military terminology had become more widely known, such a person might be aware that the RAF called all personnel under the rank of sergeant "airmen". Women did not join the RAF; they belonged to a auxiliary organisation called the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). A person undergoing flying training was called a 'student pilot' and was not correctly called simply a 'pilot' until he had passed final tests and examinations. At that point he received his flying brevet (Pilot's Wings).
Here is some background information: