After I was trained as an instrument technician, they had no place to put us, so I was at a station in Ontario, [RCAF Station] Aylmer, where they trained flight engineers. So I was put through a course on flight engineers. I was approved for three types of aircraft: the [North American Aviation] Mitchell, B-25[J] [medium bomber] or something like that; the [Consolidated PBY-5A] Canso [anti-submarine coastal patrol aircraft], which was an amphibious vehicle; and one other, I think it was [the Douglas CC-129] Dakota DC-3 [transport aircraft]. But that was hardly anything to do there. Another one was [the Consolidated B-24] Liberator [heavy bomber].
Well, it sort of caught me by surprise because on DROs, daily routine orders, they asked that dress for the day would be 6A blues, which was our [full] dress uniform. I walked into the mess, along with a number of others, and the orderly sergeant sorted me out very quickly and pulled me aside; and took me over to the air commodore [air officer]. We had met before in the hospital and various places, but, anyway, he said, take your tunic off, and I did. He was taking his off and the orderly sergeant held it for me; and said, here, put it on. He said, you’re air commodore now, but just for the day.
So we walked in, people looked and all of a sudden, everybody came to their feet, stood at attention; so I said, at ease, take your seats. It was a little different than I had normally had for a daily lunch. The picture was taken with the air commodore giving me the first lunch. I had to do a lot of responding to people who were coming up and saying, what did you do, any new orders? I said, yeah, you all have the day off. [laughs]
We were doing a test flight on the [de Havilland DH-98] Mosquito [multi-role aircraft] bomber. We flew out of [RCAF Station] Oshawa. We were just over Hamilton; and the tests we were doing were to check the ability of the engines to carry the Mosquito to 30,000 feet. Now, at 20,000 feet, you always put oxygen [masks] on, so we did that and we kept climbing. The pilot looked over at me and saw that my head was down like that and he looked at the flow meter and it’s an instrument with a glass tube with a little black ball in it; and as you breathe, the ball falls up and you stop, it drops. The ball wasn’t moving in mine. So he took my mask off, took his mask and stuck it on my face and held it there; and I survived or come around, and I saw his head starting to do [the same]. So rather than go through this, I pushed the stick forward and we went into a dive, right through the centre of Hamilton and we got to 20,000 feet above. I took the mask off and held it over him; and he perked right up. But that was a scary move.