"So they both came down and at the same time, one top of the other. It really made a mess of the planes, as you can see in the photo."
It was just an ordinary summer day and the planes were coming in. This plane was piloted by two flyers from Great Britain. As he was coming in, he couldn’t see down and he didn’t realize this other plane was underneath, coming down at a lower altitude, you know. So they both came down and at the same time, one top of the other. It really made a mess of the planes, as you can see in the photo.
But I think at Calgary, with the student flyers, there was a crash or an incident every day. Every day there was something going on. Like someone would come down and brakes would fail and they went across the ball diamond there and into the ditch. And another time, two planes took off pretty close together and they, they crashed into each other, just about two miles out. And I knew the one fellow. I saw them at least two days before, the flyer. Four were killed.
The first day I was in the station, at Calgary [No. 3 Service Flying Training School], they changed the, the runways. The wind changed so they had to change the runways. And the fellow I was sitting beside said, oh, something’s going to happen here. And one plane was going east, another one’s going west and they, you know, went right into each other. This one plane went straight down and there was just a ball of flame. The other one, he took off, he didn’t know what to do and he landed in the Stampede fairgrounds. He was alright. But the other three were naturally killed.
And another time, I had to go out down to the next station where a plane had landed in the night and there was just nothing. It was just debris everywhere. And he was killed. It was night flying, because they had to train them for night flying and that was one time. But I could mention a lot of other times where a mechanic, starting the plane up, getting it ready and he forgot the brake and it went into the other plane. And with the propellers going and it chewed up the whole tail.
And then there was another time at Calgary when all the planes were taken and put back in the hangar at night and I know we put one in and then the next morning, this fellow, I guess the police came and I was still in bed and they were asking me, they said there was a bad accident in the hangar. One fellow went in with a little tractor. He went in to get the tractor and he reached over and put the starter on and it was in gear and it went in and it pushed, I think it was five planes, right up into, pushed them all; damaged five planes. And naturally, I was there and they wanted to know what I was doing, you know, and I told them about, we put planes away and everything was okay then. But he says, what we’re afraid of is sabotage, you know. And just as I, they were talking, this fellow came up and he says, I was the one that smashed the planes up. So they took him away, naturally, and I think he was in the ‘digger’ - we called it the digger - for a month.
And there was another time when I was, they brought a plane in and they said that the, something’s wrong with this plane because he couldn’t use the elevators, the elevators on the back. And so I took it apart and I said, oh, there’s the trouble there, there was a little cotter key missing. And I realized afterwards, it’s all my friends that worked on it. So they had a court martial, a court martial. I had to tell them what happened. And so this fellow got in the jail for a while. It was a lot of things like that went on.