Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Actual qualifying landings “aboard” were the final steps in the operational training program for all potential carrier pilots. As soon as the Daytona part of the course was over, our eight friends left for Genview, Illinois, outside of Chicago, to check out on the practice carrier “Wolverine” while Gamble and I being potential instructors as well had to wait around for our orders. In the meantime we helped train new students, though we got our orders before another month or so was over, arriving in Glenview in early May. There I found myself a promotion
to lt.j.g.
Lieutenant junior grade once the physical examination was over, but Gamble, whose date of rank was a little later than mine, didn’t make it and felt cheated. While waiting for our turn to fly out to the ship we practiced field carrier landings, the signal officer seeming to think that we, Richards especially, needed a maximum. Finally late in the month on different days we each got out to the ship, the Wolverine. Every man had to make eight landings to qualify. I was lucky enough to get a “cut” (signal to shut off engine and then land) on my first pass and so made my first carrier landing on my first try—not that there was anything unusual about that, just that most of us took plenty of wave-offs before getting all eight landings. Some pilots didn’t get all theirs in on one trip out, but the only non-bomber pilot in our particular group, a Corsair pilot, put the rest of us to shame by getting just one wave-off. Just the same it was some time before F4Us were used regularly on carriers in combat. catching
wire, etc.
The sensation of catching a wire with the hook of one’s plane and landing with a jerk didn’t seem bad at all, but the rush to raise the hook after the deck crewmen had released it from the wire and take off as soon as possible was pretty confusing. It was, in fact, impossible to keep from getting a little excited. To arrive safely back at Glenview having been well out of sight of land all during the landings was a great relief. I was the 1001st pilot to qualify on the Wolverine. As before after finishing operational training we rated two weeks leave, a lucky break for Gamble and myself.

While at Glenview food we had enjoyed the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted in an officers’ mess. There were always choices of entrees, including a steak special, but everything was so good, it was hard to make up one’s mind. We had organized exercise in a magnificent gymnasium, and I usually punched punching bags. Several times I went out for walks in the flat and mostly open countryside surrounding the field. On one occasion birds encountered several Cape May warblers that had stopped in their migration in some trees near someone’s house, and on another I passed a little marsh where I had an excellent view of a sora rail rail. Chicago offered other recreations, and especially while waiting to qualify we saw quite a lot of it. One weekend I went over to Ann Arbor Ann Arbor and joined Prof. Baxter for tea at the Dean’s and a walk in the arboretum.