On our arrival at the Darr school. We were taken into our billets and shown round. Perfect,quite new, white painted , wooden single story building. Gas central heating Hot showers available night and day. Double bunks ( one above the other you horrible little man). Each of the many windows with a wire screen fed with water to stop the dust blown up by the aircraft props. It was summer, 103f with total blue sky and no wind, which stayed constant for a month or two.
After that we were taken in to the mess. We were very impressed stainless steel fittings every where. A fantastic choice of food, and such things as apple pie and ice cream , bacon and eggs, cereals and SUGAR. and BUTTER
One thing we couldn't fathom, was the proliferation of signs saying KEEP OF OFF THE GRASS. While the university air squadron types discussed at great length whether the use the word OFF, was grammatically correct, another cadet who had noticed there were no tarmac runways , said I wonder how they expect us to get those aeroplanes airborne
We had a shock on our first evening, we thought we would go down to the local pub. However we found out
we were only allowed out from 5 P.M to10 P.M on a Wednesday. and midday Saturday to 10 P.M Sunday all day 'til 10 P.,M. ,and there were NO PUBS. Nose to the grind stone the rest of the time.
The first thing we did on arrival at a new camp, was always to find an oppo (friend)_ or two. I chummed up with a lad called Bill ****,from Cardiff, and an Americn from Atkins. Iowa . called Hardy Albrecht (d). (second generation German), but a a loyal American, proud of his country.We remained firm friends all the time we were at Ponca City.
The next day, we were taken down to the control tower and introduced to every one and then allocated to an instructor. My instructor,was a Mr Dux who turned out to be a very experienced patient, cool pilot, but most of all he could teach. He explained he would be teaching us for three months , primary training, which would be one hundred flying hours, and most of it would be over the 101 ranch. I asked him why 101, and he replied that's the size in acres. I was later to find out it was 101,000 acres. He explained that all the roads ran North South , East , or West. That as the railway ran North and South though Ponca , initially, as well as map reading. we would be able to find our way. Also that each large water tank had the name of the town printed on it. Following the railway was frowned on by the R.A.F , and was called flying by Bradshaw. Bradshaw being the official British railway time table at that time.
The next day was 4/8/1943 (from my log book) we were instructed , on preflight checks including , see that there are no loose objects in the cockpit, peto head cover removed check for full and free movement of all controls, chocks under wheels, sufficient gas for the journey etc etc. Then came "swinging the prop, throttle open , mixture fully rich, switches off , suck in. followed by throttle closed switches on .Contact.
I assure you pre flight checks became more complex as time went on. Hope, in the end, you will realize it became a little more than "wings on take off".
next came taxying, it was explained to us that as we couldn't see in front for the engine, we had to zig zag.
to obtain a clear view. A thing you didn't need to do in a Lanc:. If you did you would be off the perry track and possibly, bogged down.
After this my log book shows . Taxying ,climbing. straight and level and descending.
I have endeavored to print a pic of Hardy and me, in front of the control tower wearing the American equivalent of the R.A.F Irvin flying jacket.
Usihg 600X800 format as recommended by our moderator, fingers crossed.
Next lesson on the link trainer, it's time I went to the N.A.F.F.I, if only I can find a penny
Brains baffles Bull excreta . Or was it the other way round?