Baker, James

Letter
Date:
September 26, 1943
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Sept. 26th, 1943

Dearest Mom and Dad,

It seems such a long time since I have written any letters at all that I expect I am growing very rusty. We have been so terrifically busy this past week that I don't honestly know yet when I slept. I never used to get to bed before 11.30. I was working in the classroom every night until lights out at 11 o'clock. Our officer FO. Board, is a little golden-haired boy about 22 or even 21 and he certainly believes in giving us plenty of homework. Beside that, we have had three Navigation flips this past week which I enjoyed very much. I am beginning to look upon these flights as a great game in which I pit my knowledge and skill against the unknown factors. Our greatest enemy is the wind. We are never sure what it is exactly nor how it is affecting us, and it is to try to discover this unknown factor that we have developed Navigation. You see, the aeroplane is a machine which moves through the air, but air - unlike solid ground and water, is capable of movement. So, you may point a plane's nose in any desired direction, but it won't necessarily go that direction, the wind may cause it to drift sideways at the same time that it is moving forward. It is to try to discover the amount of this drift and to allow for it when we point the plane's nose, that our work has been evolved. At the same time, we have to try to discover how fast we are moving over the ground so we can estimate the time at which we will arrive at our destination. This is our work stripped down to absolute essentials. There are a thousand and one ways of finding these two essentials and it is to learn these ways that we come here. Of course, there are hundreds of complications and it is these complications, that make our work so hard. Not the least of these complications is the fact that every instrument we use is subject to one or two and some to four or five errors which we have to remember and compensate for. Another is that is is impossible to adequately represent the surface of the earth which is curved on a flat piece of paper or a map. So there is a fundamental error in all our work when we work on charts or maps, especially over long distances. In fact, Navigation might be called "The elimination of errors". I hope I haven't bored you too much, but I love this work and can't get enough of it....my 3 flips this week were swell! In all three, I was first Navigator and was therefore responsible for getting us there and back. My flying partner is a swell kid (only a kid too) named Russell. He's about 20, just out of school. He was supposed to be first navigator today, but the flip was cancelled, weather washed it out altogether. He'll probably be my navigator tomorrow. We have 3 flips next week too, one of them at night.

Well Mom, I can‘t figure out what has happened to your parcel. I guess you had better look into it. Last Monday I received an envelope from Eaton's containing your letter to me and a birthday card expressing congratulations for my 21st birthday. I was expecting it all last week, but nothing has shown up at all. So perhaps it would be best to find out what has become of it.


Have had several letters from Mary recently and one from Mrs. Sayers asking me to thank you for the parcel you sent her. I also thank you. I'll enclose her letter and you can read it yourself. Must close now.

Love to all as always,

Jim



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