Nov 20 1942.
Well I was in the hospital for six days altogether and then I had a day off to recuperate so I’ve lost a valuable weeks flying. Really it was the mildest flu I’ve ever had. I nearly got out one day but my temparature went up slightly at night which meant staying in all the next day and night.
It was most unfortunate to miss this week for it is the only week our flight got any decent hours. Thus while I still have only 8:10 hours everybody else soloed ages ago and have over twenty hours on the average. Our flight has had no flying at all this week until today due to poor weather. Actually we weren’t slated to fly today but were sent over to fly in the afternoon in an effort to catch up with the other two flights who have been much more fortunate in the weather. This meant that our own instructors were not there and so again I got no flying. The others did because they can go up solo. One of the senior instructors said I might have to drop back a class. (Three of the class that arrived two weeks after us have already soloed). This is O.K. as far as flying is concerned but I am damned if I’m going to repeat ground school which is so slow here as to be uninteresting. We have been writing our mid terms this week and I’m certainly not behind in ground subjects. It is also very annoying to lose all your friends.
Of our class of originally 45 ten have been washed out so far. (A high percentage isn’t it?). Among these are Cam Maddin, Lorne’s brother, and my closest friend here Doug. Lee. Even after you have soloed you are by no means safe for two of ours washed out after successful solo flights. And in the last graduating class two washed out at the 60-hour mark.
Last Saturday (the last time I flew) the circuit was so crowded we couldn’t practice landings which is what I need more than anything. Instead we did more spins. I was with a different instructor and these spins particularly all climbing turns were violent. I didn’t know where I was for awhile on one of his demonstrations.
On Sunday I spent the afternoon with Ted and Gint. Ted had to go back at 5:30 and we walked down to the station with him. It was very cold and we nearly froze. Soon afterwards it started to snow heavily and there was about 8”. It has been snowing intermittently since then (every time we are supposed to be flying). Yesterday it was 28 below but it is away above zero today.
In the last two days I have put in my first two hours on the link. All our link is under the hood—blind flying—and it is fiendish. The instruments are airspeed, turn and bank, tachometer, compass and altimeter and at least the first three must be watched with the most deadly concentration. Unfortunately the turn and bank works rather opposite to the moth so that the turn indicator is controlled surprisingly by the bank on the stick which is more like the Cessnas we fly later and so natural impulses must be restrained. I try not to move the rudder at all because it is too much effort to figure out just which way the ball of the bank indicator would move. On the first lesson you just try to keep the turn and bank centralized while occasionally glancing at the compass to see you heading remains about the same. The instructor has a duplicate set of instruments and so knows what you are doing and in addition an electric ‘crab’ on his desk traces your path on a piece of paper. So far so good. The really tough part is to keep the airspeed at 85 by raising or lowering the nose. Suppose you find the airspeed is 70 you push the stick forward into a glide. Unfortunately there is a lag until the speed picks up and so you hold it forward too long and when the speed does pick up it keeps on going, even though you now have the stick back, up and up passed 90 and even 100. So you put the stick frantically forward and the process is repeated. To make it worse the thing is extremely sensitive and actually the stick is not moved ½” and usually less than 1/4”. Just when you get it more or less at 85 rough air is turned on and you concentrate hard on keeping turn and bank central. Then suddenly you realize with horror that your airspeed had dropped to 50 and you are almost in a stall. (The link will spin just like an aeroplane if you drop below the stalling speed).
I thought this would never be mastered but today I held it dead on 85 for a long time and travelled in a straight line. My system was to hold the stick with both hands supporting it gently with fingertips and hardly breathing at all. However this didn’t last long because I had to try something new. This was to move the throttle down from 2000 rpms to 1500 rps and keep speed at 85 by slightly moving the stick forward. This was hard but not as hard as keeping the airspeed at a given figure and maintaining a certain altitude by varying the r.p.m. and of course the stick. I suppose later on these last exercises will have to be done under rough air and while turning. You have a two way phone communication with the instructor. They were wise to design it so that your own headphones are connected to your microphone for a muttered curse is loudly amplified in your own ears. Thus you don’t do it twice.
We have airmail service from here to Vancouver, the mail plane landing on this airport twice a day. Airmail letters from Vancouver get here very quickly which is why I thought it would save time.
Well, it is too bad you have to lose the 7% from the mill. It certainly has been a profitable investment especially when you get all the capital back.
It sounds as if you had a very successful shooting season this year.
With love from
[Note: transcriptions provided by collection donor.]