Feature Letter of November 14th, 2019
Baird, Gavin Gibson
Before saying anything about our trip from Montreal by the Metagama, you might be interested in some little experiences I had before I was finished with my training in Toronto, Deseronto and Borden....Just about the day I got to Mohawk Camp, as I told you in my previous letter, there had been a very serious accident and a cadet was killed and the instructor- who, by the way you have possibly heard of as a dancer, Captain Vernon Castle, was slightly injured. The boy's name was Fraser, and he lived quite close to where I lived in Toronto. Your mother would possibly remember Hilton Avenue, the first street east of Bathurst, running from Wellshill up to St. Clair Avenue. He was taking dual from Captain Castle and when they were landing apparently he got the idea that they were going to hit one of the hangars. He was in the front seat, as was the usual custom, and froze to the controls. That means that he got both hands tightly locked on the joy stick and Captain Castle was unable to move the controls. The result was that they did hit the hangar and the front of the machine went into the roof of the hangar and the front of the machine went into the roof of the hanger just enough to pin the boy there so that he could not be extricated. The machine burst into flames, and while the mechanics that were around managed to remove Captain Castle before he was seriously hurt, at the same time they were unable to do anything for the cadet. These were the kind of things that made it difficult for the boys to learn to fly. Sub-consciously one would think of these accidents, and wonder when one was going to happen to you. We had several of these accidents at Mohawk and Borden, but the majority of the accidents were very minor and while some of the boys got their faces cut and otherwise shaken up, it was surprising what kind of an accident one could come through and still live to tell about it.