engine's ticking over; check pilot's getting
He must be going to have a smoke; that's what it's
But now he's walking closer, and I don't see any
He's not fumbling for a package; he's fumbling for
eyes meet mine, and hold, and then they turn
"Do you think that you can fly this thing?" is what
he has to say.
I can't believe he said that, it's not the time or
My instructor's supposed to sign me off ; that's
the Navy way.
must mean in the "future", he really can't mean
I hear myself say "yes sir" as my inner voice gulps
All doubt is terminated as he etches on my
"Two touch and go's, and a full stop, then pick me
undoes his seat pack, and sits beneath a tree;
I try at acting nonchalant, but is this really
Coiling up the gosport hose that dangles from my
I search in vain for cozy slots for it to find a
opened up the throttle; begun taxiing away;
I have to find a secure place, where that hose will
Now I've reached the region where my take-off run
As landing traffic clears away -- I feel my
left hand on the throttle; and right hand on the
Hose jammed 'neath the tailwheel lock (that should
do the trick).
The Stearman races 'oer the sod; it really wants to
It's tough to hold us on the ground; our only load
just as I am feeling thrilled at being all
My ears are stunned by drum beat drums ; my heart
turns into stone!
I must have had a mid-air! -- as I was climbing
Frantic looks both fore and aft -- the hose streams
swirl of the propwash has it firmly in its
Rhythmic whacks away in back -- I may live another
With joystick and the blasted hose held firmly in
I now perform appointed tasks, and finish up my
Ensign duly climbs aboard; -- delivers modest
He'll never know the Hell I've known, on this my
"day of days"
I am really something "special", the first among my
To be allowed to "solo"! May this feeling never
takeoff run is text-book; so is our climb away;
I bank to port and head for home; composing what
My classmates will be jealous as they pat me on the
My tie (though new), they'll cut in two; and
short-sheet me, my sack.
just as my self image has reached epitome,
The engine coughs and dies complete. We are headed
for a tree!
My expertise evaporates. The limbs come rushing
But the Ensign does a side-slip, and now the tree
had had "emergencies", 'til I thought I would go
But these had all been signaled by the throttle
This wily Ensign sees my helmet growing tight,
Turns off the gas instead; and turns my gloat to
men who fly in airplanes, no matter what their
Can tell of that first solo; how they conquered
A time so well remembered that the details never
How they flew so free and easy -- the landing that
am almost in there with them but I have this six
The *flapping hose; my *dead-stick woes; still
haunt me from afar.
Instead of talking landings and the skills that I
I remember more the takeoff; -- the emergency so
are many aviators who really do enjoy;
Punishing their bodies, with the skills they can
Being one with their airframe, which they wildly
Elated by the "G" loads that push or pull
may well be a taste for this, is something one
The little time I practiced these; didn't seem to
light my fires.
Looking up to view the ground, while falling from
Didn't seem to fill some void that would make my
there IS one maneuver that I will not soon
Involving partial looping, with half-roll tagged on
It was named for a German from long forgotten
Whether his Eindecker could DO one is not a matter
for this rhyme.
solo Immelmann was on my list to do
I had had them demonstrated; as a "dual" had done a
I acquired the four thousand, above the land
Did clearing turns required of me; ('til now, I'm
like a pro.).
then I dived the Stearman, 'til it read one twenty
Pulled the stick back rather smartly; shoved the
throttle to the stops.
Looking back above my rudder for the sky to turn to
Leveled out the wings when horizon could be
landing gear now skyward, the engine popped and
Shoved the stick too far forward, climbed inverted
for a bit.
It was then that I decided to initiate some
Pushed the stick into the corner, added rudder to
trusty sturdy Stearman did all that it could
Rotated rather weakly as we pointed at the
I felt the stall approaching, knew a tailslide was
Got the stick back into neutral; (no hammerhead was
seemed to take forever for the front and back to
And the airplane now was spinning like it didn't
want to stop.
The venting of the gas from the wing tank to my
Means the spin I'm in's inverted, normal motions to
feed in counter rudder, stop the spin and merely
Pull back on the stick, hear the wires come
As the airplane found its axis, the carburetor
The engine came on full bore; the tach was in the
the throttle back to idle; now the airspeed got a
We're a long ways past the red line, hauled the
stick and took a chance.
The "G" load was a power as we rounded out the
The blurring of my vision spoke of blood and optic
our speed for altitude as spots flew in my
When down to cruise, put down the nose, flew level
in the skies.
At first I cursed my clumsiness, ashamed of the
mess I'd made;
Hoped no one had seen my show; at least no one in
then I got to thinking, what this looked like from
The action quite unbroken as I went from round to
It was not so very often that one would chance to
A half loop to a climbing roll, and a hammerhead
tailslide for an encore-- add one inverted
Do a split-ess for finale with sound effects thrown
I never did discuss this with cadets or Navy
(Inverted spins "verbotten") for those in solo
as I go to airshows and watch the big boys fly,
I think back to MY "airshow"---how I didn't even