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April 11, 1942

Dear Folks,

This will be an attempt at being cheerful when there is nothing particularly to be cheerful about. I suppose both of you, Pa at least, noticed right away the mistake the above sentence, which I almost missed.

Six more photographs would make it just twice as embarassing if I flunked out of here, which seems almost too likely at this stage of the game, but if you really think they would be appreciated, I’ll order more. I’m a little discouraged at this point, somewhat because of celestial navigation, which has taken me half the course to catch on to, but mostly because of flying, in particular stunting. I was practically certain it would make me sick the first time, and physiologically not psychologically it did. For this reason I have avoided much stunting in solos and consequently haven’t learned to execute most of them properly, having at the last minute realized that I wasn’t to get two of the three ninety minute solo hops following my last instruction, during which I had planned to really go after them. Well, I should have checked this afternoon, but feel so lousy after my dual and solo periods that I have got grounded. Actually stunting isn’t bad fun, but because of the very rapid and necessarily precise movement of the controls most stunts are hard to catch on to. Loops alone are easy. A snap roll is both a snap and not a snap, consisting of a very sudden spin of just one revolution about the longitudinal axis of the plane when it is in more or less level flight—done with both rudder and ailerons as well as elevators.

         digram showing Snap Roll and Split S stunts

A Split S starts like a snap roll,
but ends in a steep glide going
in the opposite direction, as shown here.
end of snap roll

Other stunts are the falling leaf, as name implies, the cartwheel, which is a sudden change from a steeply banked turn in one direction to one in the other, an Immelman or half roll from the top of a loop, ending one in the opposite direction, and other lesser ones. Most of these aren’t particularly useful, but for this our final checkout in “yellow perils” we are supposed to be able to show what a plane will do, have confidence in it and all that and hence be able to perform stunts after a fashion. Our small field work continues and is naturally supposed to be better than before. For circle shots we are now allowed and supposed to slip, and our last accomplishment to be checked on is figure eights around pilons [sic].

Tomorrow after a late sleep I should feel better, but unless I can learn four stunts in the forty-five minute warm-up period I haven’t a chance. Two downs will put me up for extra time, but if that isn’t enough, I may not get any more, which would mean waiting around until they decided what to do with me. I don’t expect to flunk out, but a fair number of men are still and will continue to right along. Navigation will just take time, which is probably the main trouble with the flying, but time is not unlimited.

Disagreeable as April is apt to be at home, it’s one of my favorite months and nice to hear about. The porcupine interests me very very much. I should think that undoubtedly there was a time when with a larger amount of cleared land there were more of these real forest dwellers to be found in or near Groton. A few of course may have survived, but more likely the present ones moved back from the hills.

I agree about Henry’s being best where he is. The army might not do him any harm, but wouldn’t do him much good except perhaps physically—unless he got into just the right branch. As a metal worker he might do better in the Navy, but I shouldn’t recommend that unless he could get some sort of a rating right away.

It’s funny about my nickname, Ma. I’ve no objection to it except outside the family, etc., circle, where I keep it secret since it is just sounds wrong when or if it is used, usually turning into “Tutz.” “Rich” frequently used and “Toot” occasionally, but “Toodor” or “Toodoor” most common. From the family I still prefer “Toots,” not particularly caring for “Tewder.”

It would be quite exciting if Nance got a commission, and it looks like she might before I do.

Speaking of weather, the other night it was 78°F when we went to bed and still 74°F at reveille, but that didn’t last—as it undoubtedly will only too soon only with downpours as well.

I did flunk my blinker test last week and though for some reason didn’t get put on the night radio list (every night except Wed., Sat. & Sun.), I flunked it again this week and will probably be put on the restricted list, which means no liberty and night radio for seven nights in a row and ad infinitum if I don’t pass next week, which, however, should be easier since the test is sent at NAS and not here at Lee if one is restricted, the sender here not being clear. It’s an unfair system since at our stage we aren’t allowed more than two errors out of fifty characters, which is tough with lousy sending. A very high percentage of my class is already going to night radio, so I won’t be alone.

I might as well continue for a bit even if there is little to tell about except myself. Last week-end we got Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday off—only I didn’t, having a watch off and on from noon until around 8 P.M., going ahsore only on Saturday. I finally got a nice little bag, Pa, but it cost me too much for a birthday present, $12.50, so why not send me just half, not that I need it, which would make it sort of cosy. Don’t send me any more money for pictures: I’m not poor any more, and pay’s increasing, they say.

My entertainment over the holiday consisted of a rather delightful movie, “The Vanishing Virginian,” starring Frank Morgan, one of Jai’s and my old favorites, and of a good many pages of a strange novel entitled, “Wuthering Heights,” still going strong. I was to be on a committee helping with a Bundles for America party, Wednesday night, at which Frank Knox appeared, but I had the one session of night flying one gets in “yellow birds,” both instruction and solo—quite an amazing feeling, but uncomfortable only on the take-offs on which I had some close calls with parked planes because of not keeping straight—so they tell me!

Well now for some blinker practice—much needed. I rather doubt if I bother to go ashore when we get back—around 7:15, though afternoon “wings” can stay out all night if they want to. Imagine wanting to. Still one could stay at the Innlet if one had a car.

Love to all, philosophically.


P.S.—A little later. Have come ashore after all on Don Watson’s suggestion—and of course to see a movie, probably with Gene Tierney, who can’t act, but doesn’t have to. Yes, I do feel better.

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