THE STRAND HOTEL LIMITED
STRAND PALACE HOTEL
REGENT PALACE HOTEL
Dec 9th 1916
My Dear Mother.
This has been a glorious day, just like October. I have enjoyed it very much indeed. You will be glad to know that I have made my first solo flight. That is I made the flight by myself. I feel quite cocky tonight about it too. Yesterday was not so good though. The weather was very foggy and misty but I wanted to get my solo off before any of the others in my class. So I made quite an unsuccessful attempt at it. In my fruitless effort I crashed two machines, in the first case I hit a ditch, running at 42 miles per hour and completely demolished the four wheels of the undercarriage. The instructor said it was not my fault so I asked for a new machine and went at it again. This time I did some minor damage, breaking a few wires & etc but as there were no more machines available I did not try it again. Several of the more experienced pilots had bad crashes too so I count myself lucky to get out of it with my skin intact. Today I started out again with a new machine, one I had never been in before, and made the grade very successfully. I made two very good landings and remained up half an hour. The fellows said I pulled off some very spectacular flying, but I did not know it. Before I finished I felt quite confident but when I came down the flight commander said I must not do any stunting as he was afraid I was a candidate. The only thing I did was to fly low and nearly knock off the chimneys. Next time I am going up at far as I can, and see if that pleases him. The higher up you go the safer you are, you know.
Em's parcel has arrived O.K. for which many thanks. I might say that it is almost gone already, and it was good, every bit of it. Also I rec'd the 'Rep' last evening for the first time in weeks and weeks. It was a small edition. Have not heard from Alf since he left London. I expect he is very busy getting ready to go overseas. He is down at Lark Hill on Salisbury Plains now, I guess. I told him to try to write oftener, but the poor kid is rather busy, I expect.
I am glad you are all keeping so well, and that Father is so successful with the insurance. It is a comfort for me to know that you are all so fit.
My train is just about due now, so I must run. Lots of love, and don't worry about me as I am quite safe as I told you before. And please do not say anything about my flying experiences outside of the family as it is more or less confidential and I tell you in that way. You might forward to George if you think he would be interested. As usual I am absolutely fit and well.
Love, for all the family, Father, Em and self and kindest regards to Miss Smith.
Your loving son