- Written by Duane Buholz
To any Aviation Cadet in World War II the interminable quarantine, military training, and academics of "Preflight" were endurable only through the constant reminder that one day he would be off to "Primary Flying School" and the ultimate "mountaintop" experience of beginning the first step toward becoming a United States Army Air Corps pilot
But at "Primary" he was immediately confronted with the difficulties and exigencies posed by the realities of this particularly new experience.
Airsickness was rampant and epidemic. How embarrassing to exit the primary trainer at the end of the taxiing roll, only to be seen by fellow cadets, green of pallor, diligently wielding bucket and brush, hoping and praying that this would not be repeated on the occasion of the next flight.
Three tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce from the mess hall, as recommended by more experienced cadets with previous flying training and a cruel sense of humor, were found by many to be totally ineffective in curing this malady, as well as being downright distasteful. But some did survive!
"First Solo" time would usually arrive after eight hours or more of harassing browbeating screaming instruction and admonition by an impatient frustrated and totally sadistic and insensitive instructor; and was anxiously and sleeplessly anticipated by each cadet as much as to be free of the s.o.b. in the back seat, as to prove his ability and worthiness to fly this crate that acted like an aimless snake on takeoff and a crazed jackrabbit upon landing
His SOLO takeoff was acceptable.....plenty of right rudder pedal to compensate for the torque of even this small engine....ease back on the stick when the plane becomes light and wants to become airborne .... keep it straight on the runway and try to hide the exuberance of success when the "bird" begins to fly.
Now, when barely off the ground, how to land this "sucker"!...gentle climbing turn to the left in the prescribed "pattern"....another left level turn to the down-wind leg...a third to the crosswind leg and "Migawd, how does one line up with that narrow runway?" But there it is. lined up adequately. Now, ease back on the throttle...remember the stalling speed of this lethal little machine, and try to get it in on the first pass....in full view of maybe a thousand classmates (or two thousand or three thousand) on the ground, all eyes!
First pass is "too hot" and the trainer sails well past the first third of the runway!...."pour on the coal" and go around again. Shit!....same fears and trepidation! Don't forget to check the light gun from the tower controlling the traffic....red for a wave-off and green for permission to land.
Second, third and fourth passes....airspeed too low on final approach....go around again and again and again.
After twelve unsuccessful attempts to safely bring in this strange and uncontrollable monstrosity landwise, a grizzled old instructor was heard to remark rather resignedly and succinctly, "we may just have to shoot him down!"