March 3031, 1943
Other family letters seem to have delayed this until now, so perhaps Im forgiven. There isnt much news from this quarter anyway. By this time our squadron has done away with its night flying (four nights in a row last week, but not for long periods or late), and begun field carrier landings. These last are simulated carrier landings and more different from regular landings than I had thought. We have to make or to try to make very exacting approaches at very slow speeds for a plane, being directed by a signal officer, and so far it seems to be very difficult. Too fast, too high or too low signals all seem to come in too quick succession. They are made with paddles (). In every other phase of training we are further along. We wont have had much navigation and gunnery but a lot of dive bombing, which we all need. It is not easy to get hits especially when one follows the man in front in quick succession. The variation in the strength and direction of the wind at different altitudes are other factors making it hard to determine the best push-over point and the best angle of dive, until one nears the release altitude, when it should be around 70 degrees, as well as the correct point of aim. Seventy degrees, incidentally, feels like about eighty-nine! Sometimes, as when theres a cloud layer so low as to make dive bombing impracticable, we glide-bombat only about 45 degrees, but without flaps split (= cross-section of center of wing, flaps not split. = ditto with flaps split. For landings only the lower flap is moved, giving more lift with a minimum of extra drag, but a lower stalling speed than with flaps unmoved).
Our course, by the way, should be finished within ten days or so, but so far as I know Ill be here a while, the others heading for the Wolverine, the practice carrier on Lake Michigan.
Last Sunday for a change was a beautiful day, and even the almost constantly strong wind had eased up a bitand so began my first lengthy local bike ride. It went the few miles on this side of the river north to Ormond, then crossed the bridge to the peninsula, there continuing north first on the beach then along the river again only on the east side. I reversed course when I came to a bridge, over a narrower portion of the river, that was open, again alternating between beach and river road, this time, however, continuing along the beach from Ormond to the Daytona Beach pier and thence the four remaining miles to N.A.S., covering between 35 and 40 miles altogether.
The country isnt very different from that around Jax. The famous beach is essentially a continuation of those stretching south from the mouth of the St. Johns, but broken at St. Augustines inlet and at another between here and there. Along the wilder sections are the same scrub lands behind the sand dunes. Hardwoods outnumber the pines along the river, and only about a mile east of here is a fine tract of woods that actually looks luxuriant. It contains fair-sized cypress, many different kinds of hardwoods, some rather exotic looking, and many tall cabbage palms. Its somewhat wet, so in exploring it Ill have to try and stay clear of mosquites and water moccasins. By some quirk of fate we have nothing scheduled until 0930 for tomorrow so perhaps early in the morning is a good opportunity to have a look about there. Most resident birds at any rate should be in full song.
It must have been swell to see the Great Neckers.
Love to All,