prev next

April 24? & 30, 1942

Dear Folks,

Any pride you may have had in my aviation career here has, I fear, been unjustified, and any worries I’ve had have proved only too justified, though they probably didn’t help much. The truth is that I’ve probably washed out as a flier, having got a “down,” an “up,” and then yesterday, unluckily a very windy day, another “down”—all on “Squadron Time,” and though I’ve asked for more time, it is extremely unlikely I’ll get it. What then?

Well I must be prepared to try my hand at something else. Naturally my feelings are mixed. I’m disappointed in myself and somewhat humiliated at the prospect of not being allowed to finish something I planned to finish just because I’m not good enough, but there is also a sense of relief from the strain of something I found difficult and fatiguing. As I see it, the reasons for failing are a combination of slowness to catch on and extreme nervousness during checks, so not only was I not very good at best but tense as well. With a number of downs one is apt to lose confidence even if one knows one can or thinks one can get by, but the question is will one get by. Navigation has undoubtedly taken it out of me not a little every morning or afternoon we’ve had it, there having been a daily quiz, which I’ve usually nowhere near finished hence failed, for the last several weeks. With the general importance of navigation and the trouble I have with it, making careless errors again and again, but apparently unavoidably because of numerous tables, measurements, etc., as well as being just plain slow, maybe it’s all just as well I’m not destined to be a naval aviator. That I could get by I still consider a possibility if they gave me more time, but it’s undoubtedly questionable.

I haven’t had much of a chance to consider other possibilities, but have compiled a list for suggestions’ sake. It follows:

  1. A.V.S.
  2. Coast Guard
  3. Army Air Corps—Bombardier
  4. V–7
  5. Submarine School
  6. Regular Army
  7. Naval Intelligence
  8. Marines
  9. F.B.I.
  10. Lighter-than-Air (Lakehurst)—Navy
  11. Gliding

Of these the first is most likely, I guess. A high percentage of fellows who wash out of flying here are offered A.V.S. (Aviation Volunteer Service—I think) commissions, which result into ground school teaching or any of several odd jobs, but this needs more investigation.

Pa, thanks for news, check (is that actually wrong?) and amusing clipping about Francis Russell.

Am amazed that Squam is well up. I thought it would take several years to recover.

Your wildflower notes remind me of last spring, Pa, when I was frantically collecting them by the dozen. You and Ma and Nance take a look at my collection sometime. It’s fairly representative and is in the cupboard below the one where the shells are. There are a few spring wildflowers here abouts, but neither they nor the bird migration is much in evidence.

Almost a week later

Apr. 30     

Dear Folks,

This is extremely embarassing. I thought I had finished and sent this letter last Thursday or Friday I guess it was, but just now found it in the bottom of my box. You’ll probably get the postcard first and won’t make too much sense of it, which is why I’m bothering to send this. You can see what a fix I was in, having failed to get through on Squadron time and that now with Board time about to begin, whenever the red tape is cut. The pressure is greater than ever and the danger of washing out far from over. Frankly when I appeared before the Board I was expecting to be turned down for more time and resigned to the fact that I should have to look around for a new job—because “Board” time is almost nonexistent these days. Not only that, but I actually got to thinking that maybe it was all for the best since both flying and the most important of the ground school subjects, navigation, have been giving me more trouble than almost if not any combination of things ever have. Oh dear! It is mostly a matter of speed. In time almost anyone could learn to fly fairly well, that is in a group such as is here. It is only the exceptional ones that don’t have any real difficulties and don’t need any luck to get by. As far as ability is concerned I still think I’m at least average, but I must get more easily upset in “checks” if my interpretation of my flight record, all pretty much in black and white, is correct. Being, however, definitely slower than average in navigation has made everything tougher, and any exam I don’t finish gets me in a terrific sweat, and this probably gets me more tired, discouraged and generally fed up than I should have been otherwise.

Well, I haven’t flown for a week now and navigation, except for Sunday re-exams, which will continue for a while, worse luck, is over. These last two weeks of ground school include gunnery, theoretical and practical (on the range rather than in the air), and ship and plane recognition and aren’t so bad, so one is more rested at this end as well as from no flying. I’ve proved myself capable of getting an “up,” but need two before getting two “downs.” The difficulty consists of more or less respectably performing five things: pylons, small field procedure, spot landings slipped to a circle, wing-overs and stunts, not muffing any, and all when “under pressure,” but unless it turns into a jinx, I should get by this time. If not, then there’s at least one thing I don’t have to worry about any more, and can look around for something more secure, more suitable for me and less wearing. I’m naturally hoping that this is the main hump, as it is apt to be, causing more trouble than any other check to the average cadet, and not just a “knoll.” Other things being equal those that enjoy flying the most doubtless do the best, but most of us frankly get very tired of it. Soloing can be fun, but one hasn’t time to just fool around and do what one wants to. It all should be much better when one is through ground school and gets occasional days off. Lately I’ve been restricted week-ends for not passing blinker, which hasn’t helped matters, but night radio is the place to meet the boys, hundreds of them, even if it is rather a farce.

Have finally got my Florida bird list over 100, but it would be double that if one had been able to get around more. The station list stands at 60. Mockingbirds take the place of robins and are everywhere. In the woods are many kinds of woodpeckers, summer tanagers (all red), cardinals—along borders—painted buntings, white-eyed towhees, bobwhites, gnatcatchers, titmice and many others. Instead of whip-poor-will there are chuck-will-widows—yet to be seen.

Hopefully, love


P.S. This is amazing. When letter finally gets off, it comes back from Jax because of having “Mass.” omitted, something I’ve never done before. Even so there is no new news except that I had my first instruction hop, with a new instructor, my fourth, Ens. Hyland, whose picture was in the Herald last Sunday. I should be through “yellow perils” at least by the middle of next week—regardless of success or failure.

prev  index  next