World War One Flying

Reminiscing about USAF T-37 basic training brings back many memories but one has stuck with me my whole life.
I was doing well and knew I would make it as a young confident Air Force pilot. We broke for the Holidays and, my wife and I, returned to Seattle and my father-in-law mentioned that his neighbor, Mr Craig, had flown in the Royal Canadian Air Corp in WW I and he would like to meet me. I was thrilled and we hurried over to meet him.
He was well up in his years then but as I introduced myself I could see the excitement in his eyes to again talk aviation. He had found his leather flying cap and let me handle it as he talked about how they had to dress for the cold open air cockpits. I asked about their instrumentations and he smiled and said maybe a compass.
“But how did you know your speeds” I asked and he replied
” The sound of the wires cutting through the air was what we used”
I was amazed at the very basics of flight back then but when I began telling him about the spins and other maneuvers we practiced he understood and said they used stalls and spins as escape maneuvers. I told him how we performed barrel rolls and loops but when I mentioned Immelmann’s, a half loop with an aileron roll at the top, his eyes lite up and he proudly announced
” Oh yes. I knew Max Immelmann, he was a great pilot.”
A moment i will never forget.

1 thought on “World War One Flying”

  1. I remember the afternoon too. It was a cool December afternoon, as we hurried with excitment to meet Mr. Craig. He was a tall stately gentlemen with thinning white hair…..very dignified looking for his years. Questions and answers about aviation experiences passed back and forth between the two pilots.
    Mr. Craig held his leader flying cap in his hands, as he talked. Art and Mr. Craig shared stories, as my eyes were drawn to his weathered hands and thin fingers rubbing his World War 1 leather cap. He handed the leather cap to Art…my heart raced. Was he giving my husband a piece of his life, a piece of history? We looked at each other…. and we knew he was not ready to part with his WW1 leather flying cap, the memories or the feel of weathered leather in his hands.

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