Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Well, all these on top of each other were just too much for me, and though others had difficulty too, a goodly percentage in fact washing out, many of the boys sailed through without a down. One had to hand it to them, but only to demoralize oneself some more. Friend Boland did his best, but every time he tried to help me through a stunt, he couldn’t budge the stick from its wrong course because I had such a grip on it. I was trying too hard. Downs followed by Squadron time, which was almost automatic if needed, came as expected, and though an Ens. Bayler, who took over the “problem boy” at this time, helped out considerably, it wasn’t quite enough. nearly “washed out” Having failed to get through with extra time really put one on the spot. There was slim chance of getting a second period of extra time or “Board” time, but that meant waiting around and eventually appearing before the Board at the main station and dressed in whites. At this point in the game I hardly wanted another chance, having lost most if not all of the little confidence I ever did have, but in spite of the poor case presented, the seven man board of lieutenant-commanders and up came through. The secretary told me afterwards it was a 4–3 vote!

There was nothing to do then but to try once more, this time coached by an Ens. Hyland, a fellow Bay Stater. Two periods with him and three by myself, counting solo warm-ups before each check, just got me through, a “down” being followed by two “ups.” I did get to the point of being able to perform each stunt or maneuver after a fashion, but my performance during checks was never up to what I could do by myself or with my instructor, and it was only by being greatly encouraged that I ever passed the second check and only by the grace of God and the kindness of the check pilot’s heart that I ever passed the third. He was very critical when I slipped to a spot just short of a circle and glided the rest of the way in straight even when I hit the circle every time, the idea being to slip all the way in, and, of course, he didn’t like it when I nearly ! put us in an inverted spin trying to do an Immelman!

It was somewhere in April that we all had our first night flyingnight flying, regardless of how far along we were otherwise. For me it came between the 20 and 33 hour checks and so was actually a respite from stunting, though all it amounted to was one hour of instruction and one of solo. The dark didn’t seem so bad until afterwards when one of the officers observing landings said that I had ! landed on one runway and taken off on another, swerving at the intersection.