Nov 24 1942
Well at last I have done it. I soloed today! I was feeling pretty blue last night because I could not get the hang of these landings and it looked as if I was finished. I did circuits and landings for 1:40 hrs on Saturday and 2:00 on Sunday. At noon Sunday when I had a total of 10:50 hrs my instructor said he could afford to give me only one more hour. Well he did that in the afternoon and then another hour on Monday. The extra time was because I was in the hospital and perhaps because the rest of my flying was O.K. After the hour on Monday the instructor gave up. He said he had done everything he could and he had. I had no kick against him after being given the extra time. However he said the flight commander would take me up and see if he could find what the trouble was. I talked with the latter Monday night and he seemed to hit on the trouble right there. I had been looking too straight ahead rather than off to one side. When I went up with him this morning the first landing was perfect and I was sure he had really found the trouble. However the next was as bad as usual dropping in from about four feet. The next was worse. I was about seven feet up and had to slam the throttle and go around again. I forget what sort of landing it was eventually except that it was bad. The last landing was fair. One difficulty I have that the others in our class missed is the snow which makes it more difficult to judge the distance. This afternoon I was called away from classes to go up again. There was a moderate wind and it was quite bright for a change—really ideal conditions except that it was bumpy air. I made two circuits with the flight commander. Both landings were rough but really not too bad. As we taxied back he asked if I thought I could bring it down alone and I assured him I could. I doubt if he was too confident for he said he was taking a great responsibility so I promised I wouldn’t let him done. Then we got out and looked in the compartment for the red ribbons to put on the wings so that other air/c would keep away. They were missing so I went up without them. I wasn’t the tiniest bit nervous—it was great. It felt a bit strange not to see anybody in front of you—that was all. The landing was fair—probably stalled in from not over 18 inches. The flight commander is awfully nice—the sort of jovial chap who immediately instils confidence, which was something I was fast losing. I am not really in the clear yet. For the next four hours or so I will practise landings going up with an instructor for the first one or two circuits of each hour. I had 14:10 hrs dual before the solo which is quite a bit more than any of the others.
Now that I expect to be here awhile will you please send up my two pairs of Siwash wool socks. They should be good inside the flying boots.
As far as ground work is concerned I will stay with this class but may be attached to the class that just came in for flying. In the few, easy midterm exams I averaged 92% which is probably first. I failed in Aldous lamp but this was just marked pass or fail. Each in our class had “50” rounds on the skeet range yesterday. It was miserably cold there which might be one reason why none of us hit many birds. Then I fired 50 rounds on a Browning .303 machine gun. I was much better at this. However quickly you release the trigger button it is almost impossible except for an expert to keep a burst below three rounds. They fire 1150 rounds per minute and when you see the mechanism you wonder how this is possible.
Well I am glad this letter did not have to tell you a much different story.
With love from
[Note: Transcriptions provided by collection donor.]