March 9. 1943.
I managed to get my instrument flying time in by Sunday night—eight hours of it in four days. The longest single trip was two hours. We flew down to Watrous and then I took the hood down and my instructor did some low flying for relaxation for me before the return trip. He did this low flying about 160 m.p.h. so the ground really moved passed in a hurry.
We started night flying on Monday. On the first trip two of us went with our instructor on a navigation trip of 316 miles. (Saskatoon—Lucky Lake—Humboldt—Rosthern—Saskatoon.) I acted as navigator and the other student was first pilot. The instructor was radio operator, reporting our position from my log every few minutes. It was twilight when we started but soon became very dark but it was very easy to navigate provided you kept your position up to date. Each time we passed near a town I could figure out the ground speed in a few seconds and then the estimated time of arrival at the next turning point. These ETA’s were very accurate—once I was out 30 seconds—another time right on—the worst was perhaps two minutes out. It was a most enjoyable trip perhaps because it came off so smoothly.
As soon as we got back the ship was gassed up and we did the trip again changing positions. This was not so much fun for we were getting cold and tired. Also the shop flew one wing low and I found it difficult and tiring to hold an accurate heading. I don’t know how my pilot did so well on the first trip. There must have been some ground fog for we did not know our exact position on the first leg and had to turn on E. T. A. but after that it was O.K. Both the instructor and first pilot are equipped with ear phones so I could hear all the radio communication. Quite a lot of backchat goes on. Somebody was singing “Bury me out on the lone prairie” with my instructor whistling the refrain. Sometimes the control tower could not hear us and then some other plane would relay our messages. Our log books show a total of six hours for these two trips although we weren’t actually in the air this long so we were quite ready for bed at 0130.
Last night I started flying at 2345 doing circuits and bumps. After one circuit my instructor (the flight commander) decided to change the flare path as it was no longer into wind. I was one of the three to go out in the truck to do this job which took an hour—no fun either on a cold, windy night. Then we went up again and after 2:35 hrs dual I went up solo for an hour. Actually during this dual I only got about four landings for most of the time we were tooling about over the city waiting for permission to land while the flare path was being fixed. It was an awful flare path by the time I got up solo. Almost half the main lights were out and almost all the taxi strip lights. You had to get quite close before you really knew where to land. I only got in two solo landings because they shot up a Red verey which meant we were not to land. This was because one of the boys had an electrical failure and was flying around with no lights at all so they let him come in when none of us would be around. I was one of the last three to finish up this morning and so had to help gather up the flares again. It is a very dirty job and my flying suit is covered with soot and coal oil. It was seven o’clock when I got to bed—just when the day flying boys were getting up. I was up again at noon for ground school. What a tough week it is going to be.
I am glad to say the cookies arrived in very good shape. Only a few were broken and perhaps they were like that to start with. They were delicious and I should love some more.
In the 4th week exams I got 89.75%—which is slipping a bit as the exams were rather easy.
An addition to the curriculum here is observer-navigation trips in Ansons. These trips have a crew of five—three being students—pilot, 1st navigator and 2nd nav. The 1st nav. does all his work on a mercator map—the lat. and long. of various pin points being given to him by the 2nd nav. The 1st nav. would not have to look out of the plane at all but his work must be fast and accurate. One such trip this morning lasted 3:40 hrs. We get six hours of this in each of the three capacities.
With love from
[Note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]