Baker, James

Letter
Date:
October 26, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Oct. 26th 1942

Dear Mom,

Well, the ambition of my life has at last been realized. I have flown in and actually flown an aeroplane for the first time! I suppose you will want to know all about my feelings but strangely enough, when I come to review them and try to recall exactly what I did feel, I find to my great surprise that I didn't have any at least if I did, I can't recall what they were. I wasn't excited at all. Usually my heart beats rather hard when something exciting happens but I was as calm and cool as a cucumber. I just climbed into my flying suit and parachute, into the cockpit and connected my intercom and started talking to the instructor. He is a very young fellow - English: P/O Telfer by name...trained in North Battleford. Then we taxied out onto the field, opened the throttle and were away. Before I knew it we were off the ground and climbing steadily upward into the sky. The ground gradually receded and everything seemed to flatten out and lose its height. At the same time every field and road, river and lake, house, tree, even the sheep and cows came into sharp relief. It was a lovely sunshiny day and everything was sharp and clear. But it was tremendously ‘bumpy'; I was continuously rising and falling back into my seat with a jar. We climbed quickly to 3000 ft. and after I had finished admiring the view, he explained the controls and I flew the plane for nearly ten minutes all alone. It was rather harder than usually because it was so ‘bumpy' and the nose was continuously rising or falling above the horizon. My pilot doesn't say very much but I think he is rather pleased with me. Anyway I have done only 3 hrs. and 40 minutes of flying and am already on ‘circuits and bumps' which means take offs, circling the field once, and landing again. I did spins today which I love. We climb up to 8000 ft and then I give the left rudder a hard kick and throw my left wing down until the nose points straight at the ground which begins to rotate around in a violent circle. Faster and faster it goes until you seem to be floating on air. Then forward goes the stick, hard right rudder and she stops spinning but continues to dive downward. By this time I'm travelling about 160 mph. Then, gently back on the stick and ease the throttle open and away we go again. When you first come out of the dive you feel as though you were being pressed downward into your seat as though a mighty weight had suddenly descended upon your shoulders. The blood begins to drain away from your head and your vision dims for just a moment. But worse even than this is the sickening feeling at the top of a stall, your plane's nose is away up in the air and then suddenly it drops and you leave your stomach some 200 ft. above you, lying in a cloud. But you soon get used to it and it never bothers me now. The only sensation I feel at all is a great tiredness immediately after landing. It lasts for about 3 hrs. and I have a terrible job trying to keep awake. But otherwise it seems the most natural thing in the world to be flying. I seem to have come at last into my own. This is where I really belong and have known it all along. Why oh why did I waste these last 3 precious years? It will always be a mystery to me why I didn't wait and join the AF. in the beginning, but then I suppose I wouldn't have all the friends I have now.

We are allowed one day off a week as there is no such thing as Sat. or Sun. here. My day off is Friday, so I am going to go and see Mrs. Bemrose. She is only 30 miles away and I have nearly 36 hrs. in which to go and come back. We are six miles away from town, in a very dismal place - no transport, etc.: but there is an ATS. barracks about a mile away and they have a dance every night so I expect we will have some fun once we get started. I have only been here 3 days today so really haven't had time to look around and get settled. But as soon as I do, I expect I shall soon make friends. I always do. By the way as you can see, I am now as LAC. and my pay is now 8 shillings a day instead of 2/6. Some raise eh? I expect to go on 3 wks. leave in about 3 wks. and I shall have nearly 30 pounds. But I shall probably need it.

Now I have some bad news for you. I have been avoiding answering a persistent question of yours for some time because I wanted to surprise you. I have every hope of being home inside of two months and may just possibly make it in time for New Year's. I had hopes to make it by Xmas but I greatly fear that that is out of the question as there are only 8 wks to Christmas and it will be at least 6 wks. before I can get to the Manning Depot where the draughts leave for Overseas. So I guess there is no chance for Xmas and only a slim one for New Year's. However, I will be home sometime in the near future, so you can start expecting me. But there is also a chance that they will not send us to Canada for training at all, but to S. Africa instead. However, I hardly think they would do a thing like that, especially as most of us have been here so long and they must know how we long to get home again.

I have had no letters from you for nearly 2 wks. so I can answer none. Mary is now in the WAAF. and I am awaiting her first letter to see how she likes it. However, I suppose it will be very enthusiastic, at least I seem to recall that mine were. Mrs. Sayers is still as busy as ever and her family seems to be in the same boat. John has given me a lot of advice, most of which I have learned or found out for myself already.

The last 2 wks. at Scarborough were a very nice relaxation after the 10 wks. of strenuous activity but I was certainly ready to start work when I came here, and they certainly lost no time in getting us into the air! We left Scarborough at 7.30 Friday night and after travelling all night - changing 4 times, we arrived here at 8.00 Saturday morning. I went up for the first time at 2.30 Saturday afternoon. So that was fast work wasn't it? Well, I guess that is all I can say for now.

Love to all as always,

Jim





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