Veteran Stories:
Richard Neil “Gus” Bennett

Air Force

  • Elementary Flying Training School #7.

    Richard Bennett
  • No 16 Transport Course Graduation Dinner Menu, 1945.

    Richard Bennett
  • Photo of the day Mr. Bennett was leaving #7 Elementary Training School to become a Service Instructor . He is shaking Al Lewis' hand. Commander Kay is pictured to his right.

    Richard Bennett
  • Flight Computer used for Navigation, 1943.

    Richard Bennett
  • Photo of Mr. Bennett climbing into the Fleet Finch, 1940.

    Richard Bennett
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"So they never did allow me the pleasure, which I had wanted, of becoming a simple transport pilot and just enjoying flying without having to instruct others how to do so. But there were benefits, I accepted all that and it was obviously the thing that was"

Transcript

My name is Richard Neil Bennett, and I’m known by my friends now as Gus. My early days in Brantford, I didn’t have much to do with the flying business, although I would go to the Brantford Flying Club at the airport and just watch the airplanes and think, gee, I’d like to do that some day. I was asked to be an instructor; I’d been an instructor at elementary flying before the war because I had gotten my instructor’s license and was teaching young kids how to fly. And that carried on in the air force and I branched out into Transport Command and I eventually ended up teaching people how to be transport pilots in the air force. So I never did get out of the instructing business, although I had tried several times, I’d written several letters to my superiors in the air force saying I wanted to get overseas and I didn’t want to go into civilian flying, as such. But eventually, there was a career path chosen for me and they decided to keep me as an instructor in Transport Command. And then when I finally did get overseas, they put me in charge of instructing for the overseas squadrons and Transport Command as well. So I never did get away from, from teaching, which I had tried hard to do several times. But I guess they figured I was sufficiently qualified as an instructor, they didn’t want to let me go into other areas. You were allocated a certain number of people, whether it was Elementary [Flying Training] School, teaching them how to fly or later on, teaching them, schooling them in Transport Command procedures. So, and of course, we taught aerobatics and, not in Transport Command but in Elementary and Service [Flying Training] School. I was at Elementary School in Windsor, Ontario, and I was at Service School in Dunnville, because I was getting my course on service type aircraft. And then I went to Trenton again as an instructor because I had requested to get out of instructing but the powers that be obviously had a different career path for me. So I had no choice. But then when I finally did get overseas, I was squad leader training for the transport, there were three transport squadrons overseas. So they never did allow me the pleasure, which I had wanted, of becoming a simple transport pilot and just enjoying flying without having to instruct others how to do so. But there were benefits, I accepted all that and it was obviously the thing that was laid out for me to do. There was Fighter Command, Transport Command, Maritime Command. They were all just branches which performed their various functions as required. And it happened that I was originally with Training Command and I was instructing in Trenton as well, teaching people how to be instructors. And then I had applied to go to Transport Command because that’s where I originally, eventually wanted to be. So that’s what, that’s what I was able to get, a position in Transport Command. And it was, the daily pattern was much the same. You’d go to the flight squadron and you were assigned pupils and you would go through the Elementary during the commercial stages of teaching them how, what flying was supposed to be like, both in Elementary School and later on in Transport Command. I had about six years in the air force and I finally got my wish to be discharged and go back and join the transport group over here, which is what I had always wanted to do. And of course, harkening back to my dad’s words, I don’t think there’s any future in it but he said, I’ll support you as long as you need it. But it turned out to be an exactly good future. My most memorable leave was before I was posted overseas, when my wife and I decided to get married. We had met earlier at [Royal Canadian Air Force Station] Pennfield Ridge [New Brunswick] and we both, we knew that I was going over, going to be posted overseas and we both decided that we really didn’t want to get married before I went overseas. But that’s what happened anyway. And we’ve had a very happy time since.
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