Active Duty
Flight Training

Nashville Classification Center
Nashville Tennessee

      We were now in the Southeast Training Command in the Third Air Force. There were four continental air forces. The First was in the northeast, the Second was in the upper midwest and the Fourth was in the west.

      This was apparently a very new installation. We entered one end of a barracks as the carpenters moved out the other. We got cots, claimed our turf, set down our bags for what was to become quite common, The Wait. Some of the guys were apparently under some illusion since they even brought golf bags. I brought practically nothing because I knew we were going to be issued everything we needed. I was even wearing khakis.
      But after several days on the train and now several days of waiting I was beginning to get a bit gamey. Finally on about the third or fourth day we were marched to supply and were issued "fatigues", military coveralls.
      We finally got into the schedule of tests that were intended to detect capabilities with the idea that they could reduce the washout rate in pilot training. The only test I remember was a lot like a fraternity initiation, hazing. We had a piece of dowel that had a finishing nail in the end. There was an electric wire from this nail that disappeared into the inner part of the room. There was a series of cubicles along a bench and a number of benches in the room. We were seated with this contrivance in hand and a barrier in front of us that had a piece of metal with a hole in it about two or three times the diameter of the nail. We were to hold this nail in the hole without touching the metal plate which evidently held the other part of the circuit. When we touched the metal with the nail it buzzed and activated a counter. A number of guys in khaki wandered around the room trying to rattle us by any means except touch. I assume that the number of "hits" was recorded and interpreted as a measure of our stability under stress!
      I don't remember any of the other tests. And when the tests were eventually done we were at loose ends again. I don't remember what we did to fill the time. I don't remember any kind of recreation being available.
      What I do remember is going to a bulletin board after supper and looking for our name on an order sending us to pilot, navigator or bombardier school.
      Finally after a number of days I saw my name on an order sending me to Preflight Training at Maxwell Field in Montgomery Alabama.

Maxwell Field, Preflight
Montgomery Alabama

      We got on a train in Nashville and there was no room to sit. We stood all night while it rumbled toward Montgomery. We arrived, were formed up and marched from the train to the Headquarters where we had our pictures taken. My eyes were almost shut .

      We were billeted in a series of long low yellow stucco buildings. There was a screened in porch lengthwise with each building. As the lower class we had to walk the ratline. This meant we scurried along the screen side, eyes straight ahead. We had formations for everything, going to meals and anywhere else. We sang various songs as we marched. The formation was held in the street at the end of the barracks. We formed five or ten minutes early and the upper class would wander around being "obnoxious" to the lower class. A typical encounter might go like this. "Mr. may I touch you?" And of course we would say, "Yes, SIR!" Our belts were supposed to be tight and just protrude from the buckle about 1/4 inch. The upper classman would grab the belt in one hand and the buckle in the other and then pull. He would then say, "Mister, bring me four inches of that belt at the next formation." After a few days, everybodies' belt would be just right although a bit tight!

      One upper classman took umbrage at one of the lower classmen. He kept demanding more of the belt until it was entirely unreasonable. So one day the lower classman must have fastened it at the end of the screened in porch, held his breath and when the upper classman approached he inhaled and the belt popped open. I don't know what happened later but the upper classman got the idea.

      We had an extensive physical here. I don't remember too much about it. I do remember one doctor was checking my "manhood". There were some unexplained lumps on the surface of the scrotal sac, he felt the lumps, was apparently mystified, even as I was, and said, "Whatever you're doing, stop it!" Since I wasn't doing anything I just left them alone and they disappeared on their own. I still don't understand.

      Another test was that little Japanese book of numbers made of dots in a field of variably sized dots of a different color. He leafed through the book and I called out the numbers. Then he came to one and I looked, and I looked and finally, with a feeling I was going to be washed out, I said, "I don't see a number!" He smiled and said, "It's a good thing, if you were color blind you would see one!".


Ooh! What a world we live in" I just looked up "color blindness test" on Google and up came "Ishihara Test for Color Blindness"!

      I remember well the several visits for shots. Since the ultimate goal was overseas assignment somewhere in the indefinite future they gave us a rather complete set of shots. Typhoid, tetanus, typhus etc. Several of them were multiple shots at intervals. Typhus came in three shots. With the second one they apparently hit a nerve and I had no use of my left arm for the entire day. I just tucked it into my belt.
      I well remember what was probably the first day. I remember walking through a darkened room (by comparison with the bright sun outside). There was a taller, more burly cadet just in front of me. We walked through, stripped to the waist and two technicians hit us in the upper arm from each side. The guy in front of me walked a couple steps and fell flat on his face. Ithought they were going to kill me. I walked gingerly, with my hands out in front, knees slightly bent, expecting to fall flat on my face. I wound up out in the yard, still more or less erect!

      Our commander was a Captain "Bulldog" Turner. He prided himself on being able to return a salute and beat you bringing your hand down. I never knew anyone to beat him.
      We had an "exercise road" called the "Burma Boad". It was 1.8 miles long over hill, over dale, over logs etc. One Sunday I decided to go out and run it by myself. Testosterone I guess. I ran over in 12 minutes and came back in fourteen. I would be lucky now if I could do it in a week!
      I pulled guard duty one night. I was standing out there with a rifle waiting for the sergeant of the guard to come around and check on me. He would ask me to repeat one of the series of orders we were supposed to know. I don't remember them now but he might say something like, "What's standing order #5." I was supposed to rattle off the order, something like, "Call the corporal of the guard in any case not covered by the orders, sir."
      The favorite story that circulated among us was the time the Corporal of the Guard asked the guard, "What would you do if you saw a destroyer come out of the woods over there?" He was supposed to give the above answer but instead he said, "I'd sink him with my submarine sir!" "Where did you get the submarine?" "The same place you got the destroyer, sir!" I'm sure that is apocryphal, a good candidate for SNOPES.
      The lower class had to keep their eyes on a spot in front of their plate at the middle of the table. If your eyes started to wander, one of the upper class would say, "Mister, are you planning on buying this place?".
      We had a club we could go to in the evening. This is what kept us alive. We got malted milks to get rid of the hunger. On weekends we were allowed to go into town. We would go to a restaurant and get a big steak to tide us through the week. One of the other cadets, Shirley Estes (male!) from Texas was somewhat embarrassing to be with. He treated the waitresses poorly and described in detail just how he wanted his steak cooked!

      The only bad thing was the terrible food. We would march to the mess hall, go through the line, collect our tray, go to the table and not eat! What we did eat had to be done as a "square meal". This means that you picked up your food, lifted it straight up, then straight back to your mouth, then straight out and straight down, all the while keeping your eyes on the spot!
      We heard later that they failed an inspection after we left. We did get time off on Saturday night and we would go downtown and buy a double steak. During the week we would gorge on milkshakes at the club to stay alive!!!
      Finally, after our 4 1/2 weeks as upperclassmen, we were sent to Jackson MS to Primary Flying School.

      I have no memory of the transfer to Jackson MS. I do remember that there was a railroad track that went by the field. We probably came by train and disembarked at a stop near the field.

Primary Flying School
15 November 1942

Augustine Field, Jackson MS

      This was a big grass field. The barracks were in an area of brush and small trees. The building we were in was a kind of double dormitory with a common entrance at the middle. I think there were about forty of us on each side. I believe there were two or three of these and a commons building. It was a civilian field with civilian instructors that were under contract. There was one military pilot there to give check rides. We were to receive 60.0 hours of instruction with check rides at 20, 40 and 60 hours.
      I think there were two double barracks. There was an indent at the center for the two doors. Each one of the barracks had these two separated parts with around thirty cadets per side. There were 137 cadets here. Fifteen cots each were in two (?) lines. There was a shower room at the rear left for the right barracks I was in. My cot was the first one at the front wall beside the door.
      Fortunately I told my instructor about my previous experience in the Waco.
I didn't want to "hide my light under a bushel basket". It turns out that it was a good thing I did as you will find out a little later. He had about five students as I remember.
      One of the students used to brag about how well he was doing, then suddenly he was no longer with us. The story we heard was that he had frozen on the stick in a spin and the instructor had to knock him out with a fire extinguisher to regain control. Sounds improbable but possible.

      As one might expect, having flown Waco's in Fargo in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, I didn't have a great deal of trouble with the Stearman. Yes, it was a different airplane and a good deal more touchy on the ground. But I started out well.

      The Stearman was a little tricky to fly. With a huge wing area, a high center of gravity and a narrow gear it was a set up for a maneuver called a "ground loop". When moving, one had to zigzag because the engine in front blocks any forward view.
      If one allows the turn to be sharper than it should be, the plane starts to heel over to the outside of the turn. If this gets out of control, you can drag the outside lower wing on the ground and then you have to take it back to the hangar for inspection of possible damage. If the ground loop is more severe, it can cause serious damage to the plane, mostly to that outside wing and the landing gear. The gear is not stressed for the side stress it is being subjected to and may collapse!
      The beauty of the PT-17 was that I don't think any pilot that learned to fly it, ever ground looped a larger plane such as the also narrow-geared P-40. The other primary trainers, the Fairchild and Ryan both had wide gears which encouraged carelessness. They could be thrown at the ground and were not inclined to "ground loop".

      This is apparently a graduating group of about 60 students. It isn't my group but shows one of the three hangars at the field.

      I soloed the PT-17, Boeing Kaydet, without difficulty.

      Until we soloed, we had to walk around with our goggles at the back of our necks and our parachute banging the back of our knees. Afterwards we could put the goggles up on our foreheads and we felt like hot pilots!
      When we soloed, we got "captured" in the barracks that night and shoved into the shower, clothes and all.
      We had an Army Air Force Captain going through training with us. He had his own quarters, being an officer. He would do bed checks and other special duties. The day he soloed he came to our side of the barracks for a bed check. When he came in, we surrounded him but didn't quite dare to grab him. He realized what we wanted to do, smiled, took off his bars and we grabbed him and shoved him into the shower in his uniform. I think he got a kick out of it as he was smiling when he went to the commons room to call his wife and ask her to bring him a dry uniform.
      There was a lot of horsing around and one favorite activity was to sneak into the other side of the barracks, station ourselves by a cot and when we were ready we would holler and flip the bunk over dumping the student onto the floor, then we would make our escape.
      There was a kind of pattern. First one of the barracks would be making a lot of noise and flipping each other, then it would get quiet while they planned the attack on the other.
      One night we heard this and realized we were about to be visited. So we acted like we had gone to sleep but we were wide awake, waiting.
      First, the outside light went out. Then our door slowly opened and they crept in quietly. We waited till they were in and then we jumped up. I grabbed the door holding it closed and the other guys grabbed the interlopers and we threw them all in the shower. The officer that made the bed check earlier came over, saw what was going on, smiled and left as though nothing was happening.
      One of the students in my instructor's group was a very slow learner, I think his name was Eastman. While it took most of us around 8 hours to solo, he took closer to 15. I actually got less than the required amount of dual instruction because the instructor was preoccupied with him.
      At some point in time we had our picture taken. I have no memory where or when. But here it is, in all my glory with that cadet insignia on the cap that few people will recognize.
      The Stearman PT-17 was a great training airplane. It didn't cut you any slack. We used to say you had to fly it all the way into the parking space. The gear was narrow and the center of gravity was quite high. This made it quite susceptible to a maneuver called a groundloop. This is where you lost directional control and if it started going to left too sharply, it would heel over and drag the bottom wing on the right side. This was a big No-No. The large wing surface contributed to this. If you let the wind get it it would go around with ease! If one learned to fly on a Stearman you would never groundloop another plane. The AT-6 in Advanced and the P-40's had narrow gears and could be groundlooped if one wasn't wary. I believe any groundloops in these more advanced planes were done by pilots whose primary training was in The Fairchild and Ryan primary trainers. They had wide gears and could be thrown at the ground and you wouldn't be likely to get in trouble. This would make them a little careless on landing and around they would go.
      This is the way I remember them. Although I think the red and white stripes on the rudder may have disappeared somewhere along the way. Thousands of them were manufactured.
      I passed my 20 hour check with no problem. But then something strange started happening to me. I couldn't do anything right anymore, takeoff, landing, series of stalls, they were all off. There's a maneuver called a Lazy Eight in which you go to the right, do a climbing turn to the left and then come down to the left and then pull up in a right turn and come back to the right. I've seen kids in a playground pretend to be flying with their arms out doing essentially the same thing, back and forth!
      The field was a big grass field. We learned to take off and land and then soloed, usually in 7 to 8 hours. Then we learned to do a series of stalls, Lazy Eights, chandelles and other things. At 20 hours we underwent the dreaded "20 Hour Check" with the military pilot.
      Somewhere around 30 hours we were going to get into acrobatics. And something strange began to happen to me. I couldn't do anything right. When I did Lazy Eights, I got the crazy fear that I would fall out of the airplane. I was strapped in so even if the airplane was in a vertical turn there was not way to fall out. I couldn't do things I had been doing several hours before! My instructor was a pretty good psychologist. He remembered my telling him about my experiences with the slow roll in Civilian Pilot Training.
      As I said earlier, I'm glad that I told my instructor about my experiences in the Waco. He was shrewd enough to recognize my problem. Acrobatics were coming up and I was subconciously afraid I was not going to be able to do a slow roll and I would wash out!
      The instructor occupied the front seat in this airplane. He had a Gosport tube, essentially a small funnel connected to a tube that went back to the student cockpit and connected to a tube in the ears of the helmet.

This plane is based at Kissimmee FL. Sarah Wilson is the pilot.
She flies for Waldo Wright's Flying Service at Fantasy of Flight at Polk City Florida
See: www.waldowrights.com

      One of my instructor's students was very slow. He took about 15 hours to solo. One day we were to shoot crosswind landings. They had several satellite fields for this purpose. I flew solo and Eastman flew with the instructor to one of the satellites fields. I'm sure the instructor did the flying to the satellite field. he turned me loose to practice and I made several landings. He went around with Eastman a couple times and then let him go around solo. I went around and when I landed I saw my instructor, lying on the ground with some of the other instructors working on him. I parked the plane and found out what happened.
      Eastman had groundlooped his PT-17 and the instuctor was so frustrated he threw the note clipboard they had on their knee when instructing on the ground so hard he threw his shoulder out of joint. The other instructors were helping put it back! I don't know for sure but I would bet that Eastman didn't go to Basic.!
      My instructor was so busy with Eastman that he would tell me what to do and send me up. We were supposed to get 27 hours of instruction but I got only 24. Actually I took that as a sort of accolade.
      One day he took me up and showed me inverted gliding turns. This was interesting because it required "crossed controls". When you're upside down the ailerons have to be used opposite to the way you do when it is right side up. When we got down on the ground, with a twinkle in his eye he said, "Now don't let me catch you doing that!" knowing full well that I would do it the next time up. I should probably mention that since the fuel was gravity fed to the engine, the engine would quit when upside down!
      I passed my 40 and 60 hour checks and was sent to Courtland Army Air Base, Courtland Alabamas for Basi Flying Training. This was a military base.
      When we soloed, we got "captured" in the barracks that night and shoved into the shower, clothes and all.

Here I am in about 1987. I flew this!
See: http://www.charlies-web.com/WWII_med/contentsced30.html

      There was a kind of pattern. First one of the barracks would be making a lot of noise and flipping each other, then it would get quiet while they planned the attack on the other.
      One night we heard this and realized we were about to be visited. So we acted like we had gone to sleep but we were wide awake, waiting.
      First, the outside light went out. Then our door slowly opened and they crept in quietly. We waited till they were in and then we jumped up. I grabbed the door holding it closed and the other guys grabbed the interlopers and we threw them all in the shower. The officer that made the bed check earlier came over, saw what was going on, smiled and left as though nothing was happening.
      One of the students in my instructor's group was a very slow learner, I think his name was Eastman. While it took most of us around 8 hours to solo, he took closer to 15. I actually got less than the required amount of dual instruction because the instructor was preoccupied with him.
      From then on it was fun for me. He would take me up and do something a little out of the core curriculum and when he got back down, with a twinkle in his eye, he would say, "Now, don't let me catch you trying that." So of course, the next time I was up I would try it. The particular maneuver I remember was inverted gliding turns. One of the normal practice maneuvers was "Gliding Turns" where we would pull back the throttle and then execute a series of 90 degree turns, first right, then left. I was doing this upside down! I have to admit I was proud that he knew I was doing it and said nothing.

      We spent Christmas here. Kenneth Carey had gotten to know the Managing Editor of the Jackson Daily News. They invited him for Christmas and told him to bring two friends. He brought me and Bruce Borman. We had all been in Fargo Central High School together.

                Bruce is on the left, Ken on the right.

      When we got there we had a lot of enjoyable conversation and it turned out that Bud Hancock was from LaMoure. Further, his family's house was a block north and a block west of our house. And I knew his parents, and his dog Bum! What a coincidence.
      He had married a southern girl and they went to visit his folks one Christmas. The weather was beautiful and she kept asking him about all the blizzard stories he'd been telling, thinking that he probably made them all up. But as they were about ready to leave, a real howler moved in and they were stuck there for three days. They went back to Jackson and never visited North Dakota again!

      I passed my final check flight and was off to Basic.

Courtland Army Air Base
Courtland AL, Secondary, Vultee BT-13
the "Vultee Vibrator"

      As I remember there were about 145 of us at Primary, but only 85 made it to Basic. We were the first class on this brand new airfield, new barracks, four new runways and a new PX and theater.
      We flew the Vultee BT-13 with fixed gear, flaps and a two-position propellor.
      It was located about halfway between Decatur and the Tri-cities, Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia. It was about a mile south of the Wheeler Dam in very far north Alabama.
      We minded our p's and q's so we had a rather nice time here.
      I remember being in room 13. My first roomate was a boy with a name like Gilmore. He washed out not too far into the program.
      In Primary, in the PT-17 we had only engine instruments and an altimeter. They wanted us to "feel" the airplane, often called "flying by the seat of your pants". Here, however, we had all the instruments pertinent to this stage of learning.
      The next roommate was a boy named Langley. I've forgotten the first name. He was killed on our first night cross country, a debacle that should have resulted in the court martial of the operations officer. We had flown at night and finally checked out solo.
      When it came to the night cross-country they made a fundamental change. In those days, since we usually landed at the field we took off from, it was customary to set the altimeter to zero at the field elevation. But for a cross country, when we were following maps with terrain, they told us to set the altimeter to sea level being zero, that is, we were to set them at the field elevation of around 730 feet. So we took off with it showing 730 feet and landed at 730 feet!
      We took off and flew north at an indicated 1500 feet. This means that we took off and headed out on the first leg, up into southern Tennessee, at 770 feet above the ground! What is even worse, the terrain on that leg rose to as high as 1100 feet leaving us 400 feet above ground on our first night cross country!
      To confound this further, it was blackest night I have ever flown in. There was a cloud cover, no moon and no ground lights. I think it was probably moonshine country and they didn't want to be seen.

<-------------   The picture to the left was taken by Col. Harlan Short.
taken from the web    -   I'll remove it if there is an objection

      There is a maneuver called a "power spiral". If one wing dips, you start turning in that direction. You may not realize you're in a turn but you notice the slight loss of altitude. So you pull back on the stick. But this tightens the turn and you lose more altitude. You pull back again and if you don't correct the turn you can stall and spin. Most people recognize what is happening rather quickly. But if it happens at night, on one of the blackest nights there is, only 400 feet above the ground, you have NO margin for error. Langley got into such a power spiral, recognized what was happening, corrected and just clipped the top of a hill and was killed. The 400' he had was not enough, particularly for a novice.
      I was very lucky myself. I could easily have been a casualty. When I got back, I had forgotten about the 730 feet. When I turned on the final, the field didn't look right. Then I realized that instead of being at 1100 feet, I should have been at 1830 feet. Instead of being 1100 feet in the air, I was only 330 feet above ground.
      I told them not to put anybody else in with me since the first one washed out and the second one was killed!
      Fortunately I made it through the program.
      As I said, we were the first class on the base and had few regulations. We were treated very well and we did not abuse the privileges we had. The lower class that came in when we were halfway through were a bunch of screwups and many regulations came in as a result of their behavior. But these new regs did not apply to us. When we graduated there were 64 of us left.
      Thirty six, including me, were assigned to single engine school. That of course was what everybody wanted. We all felt we were going to be "Fighter Pilots". To "reward" us, they had someone bring in a P-51A for the twenty of us to gawk at. It was beautiful. We all got a chance to sit in it. There were switches and gauges all over. I just knew I would never be able to fly a plane like that. This was in March of 1943. I checked out in the dive bomber version of that plane called an A-36 in November! And I needed every gauge and instrument!

      Twenty three were assigned to George Field IL and 15 went to Columbus MS. That was a total of 74 graduates out of what I remember as being 145 that went to primary.

Advanced Flying School
~20 March to 28 May 1943, class 43-E.

Craig Field, Selma AL
North American AT-6

      For Advanced I went to Craig Field, Selma AL, often called the "Randolph Field" of the Southeast Training Command. This was a beautiful yellow stucco permanent installation. It's gone now!! They're making it into an Industrial Park.

      I don't remember our arrival. But we were treated to the best quarters yet. There were three to a room and we were placed alphabetically. My rooomates were Charles Wesley DeFoor, Jr. and Dixon. Dixon is not on the graduation list.
      The rooms were in a series of rooms in a southwest kind of one story long, low, yellow stucco, permanent set of buildings. As I remember, there were three metal cots with footlockers and with our own bathrooms, possibly shared with next room.
      I remember going through the steam table line for meals. One time one of the women behind the counter looked at me and said, "How did you get in the Air Corps, you can't be more than fifteen!" I was twenty.
      It's amazing to me how little I remember about my time here. We were flying AT-6's. It was a great plane, my introduction to the skill of the North American Aircraft Company.
      One of my most vivid memories is of my first altitude flight. That morning I had an appointment with the Link Trainer at 8 AM as I remember. It was way down at the end of the line from where I was supposed to meet my instructor for the altitude flight at 9AM. I ran back. He was waiting out by the planes and as I remember, tapping his foot. I explained about the Link Trainer and he accepted that but wanted to get going. I had my parachute so I headed to my plane. He and a student went to his and a third student went to his.
      We took off and formed a three ship formation (a vee) and proceeded to climb toward 21,000 feet. At 12,000 feet I adjusted the constant flow oxygen regulator to 12,000 feet. I proceeded to make adjustments as we climbed till we leveled off at 21,000. The instructor wanted us to feel how sloppy the controls were at that altitude so he asked me to pull off to the side and do a training maneuver called a "series of stalls" which I did. Then he asked me to do a snap roll. I had to gain speed to do this so I wound up out in front of them. He told me to do a 360 and rejoin formation.
      I did the 360 (a complete circle) and lost 3,000 feet. I looked at my altimeter and thought, "What am I doing at 18.000 feet and I climbed back to 21,000 feet. I looked for them for 45 minutes and never found them. I tried to call them on the radio and got no response. Finally, I realized the period was over and started to let down. When I got back to about 8,000 I "woke" up. I realized I had not been normal. I landed and had a splitting headache. When I talked about it to the others it became clear that I had a bad case of anoxia. They said they saw me flying around but they didn't know what I was doing. They said they heard the carrier wave from my radio but no message. The instructor then asked, "Didn't you turn on the oxygen bottle in the back seat?" And I said, "No, nobody told me about it!".
      Then it became clear what was wrong. The radio didn't work because I didn't correct for the thin air by talking much louder than normal. And I didn't see them because anoxia knocks out your peripheral vision. And when your eyes are moving around it's like swinging a flashlight at night in your backyard and if you don't pause when your eyes are right on the "target" you won't see it. I learned an important altitude lesson that night although it may not have been the intended one.

      We were learning to "fly on instruments". You can't go out and fly in a cloud to practice, that's the real thing. What we did was go out in the back seat of an AT-6 with an observer pilot in the front. Then we would pull a black hood over and attach it to the instrument panel. One could not see out of the aircraft and one had to use the instruments. When we took the final check with an instructor, one of the last things he did was called, "Unusual Positions". The instructor would weave around, up and down and try to disorient you, then he would put it in some weird postion and turn it over to you. You were supposed to recover and bring it to straight and level flight with a miniumum loss of altitude.
      This day, I was the observer for Sol Abrams. The weather was not good, ceiling around 2000 feet. I took off and flew a distance from the field and Sol took over under the hood. When he was finished near the end of the hour, he came out from under the hood and I took over to fly back to the field. I was mildly confused about our location, under the ceiling so I got on the radio range. I was trying to work the range and find the "beam" Being bored, he started running the elevator trim tab back and forth, which tried to bring the nose up and down and make it difficult for me while I was trying to concentrate on working the range. I knew he flew with a loose seat belt. So I decided to put a stop to his fiddling. I waited until he rolled the tab forward and I was holding a lot of back pressure on the stick. When it reached a maximum, I let loose of the stick and then grabbed it and yanked it back. He bounced off the roof of the canopy and then slammed back down in the seat. He didn't touch the trim tabs the rest of the way home.

      Later, he did a real dumb stunt. We were taught to fly a very close pattern. There really is no reason to go way out in what we would probably call an airline pattern. We kept it close in so if we ran out of gas we could still make the runway. This I believe was preparation for combat where one might come back from a mission low on gas and the mission would have to get down quickly. If a person went out on the downwind leg farther than he needed, the one behind him might cut him off and come in on a closer base leg. Then the one cut off would have to go around and try again. Apparently this happened to Sol a number of times and once, with the instructor in the plane, he got fed up and increased the throtte and dove under the other plane and went in and landed ahead. This is a very dangerous thing to do. The instructor grounded him when he landed and he was washed out.
      He came around when he was packed and ready to leave to say goodbye. He said that he was not surprised, that he was surprised that he made it all the way to halfway through advanced. Frankly, I too was not surprised.

      I saw him a year later. He had gone through navigator school, been sent to the Mediterrean as a navigator on a B-24. He was shot down over Ploesti, spent time in their prison camp and then was liberated by the Russions.
      When I got on the boat, the Athos II, at Naples to go home, I was one of six pilots being rotated at the end of their tours. The other nine hundred and ninety four were refugees from the prison camps at Ploesti! And there he was, madly playing bridge morning noon and night!

      We had some gunnery to do. This was done at Eglin Air Force Base by Pensacola. We flew our AT-6's down there and stayed at least overnight, perhaps several, I don't remember. We did the gunnery using the guns in the engine cowling. The thing I remember most was when someone's synchronizer (that keeps you from shooting your own propellor) failed and he shot a hole through one blade. This unbalanced the propellor and caused a great vibration. We had no maintenance facilities there to repair it. It wasn't safe to fly it back to Selma that way. Finally someone got a bright idea. They turned the prop over and shot a hole through the other blade, It was then close enough to being balanced to fly it back to Selma!

      Perhaps I might mention here that my roomate, Charles DeFoor's name came just before mine in alphabetical lists and he was one day older than I was. So, to his family, I was known as Junior! He got married in Advanced to Barbara Whitehurst, the daughter of the District Judge George Whitehurst and his wife, Myra from Fort Myers. He got into a poker game at Eglin and lost $80 and he had a wife to feed. So I loaned him $80. He paid it back the next payday but borrowed it back by the end of the month. This went on the same way for several months, through P-40 training at Sarasota and going overseas together. We arrived in Casablanca on 15 August 1943. While at Casablance he got a cable announcing the birth of his son, Charles Wesley DeFoor III. He was downtown and I had to answer the cable. We went to the Fighter Training Center at Berteaux Algeria. From here, I went to the 27th Fighter and he was sent to the 79th. He crashed sometime later in the Mediterranean, still owing me the $80.
      A few years ago I tried to get ahold of his son, Chip. And when we finally connected I asked for his birthday to make sure I was talking to the right person. He gave me a date in March as I remember. But I accepted it anyway.

      We graduated on 28 May 1943 in class 43-E. After the ceremony all the families clustered around their "graduates" and pinned their wings on him. But me, the poor orphan, had to pin on my own!

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