Veteran Stories:
Leonard Dykes

Air Force

  • The Cessna Crane was used to instruct new pilots participating in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

    Leonard Dykes
  • The Tiger Moth was used to instruct new pilots participating in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

    Leonard Dykes
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"Our training syllabus was such that we were more worried about staying in the air than we were about crashing or anything like that. That didn’t come until later."

Transcript

Along with all my friends, during the war, we were all eager to join up. I was held back a little bit by family problems, but I joined up at 19. Unfortunately, it was just in time to spend two years training as a pilot, graduating and then I had to revert in rank and continue in the permanent force. The first year was pretty well wasted time in my estimation. Different jobs, menial jobs in different stations, not belonging anywhere, to anybody. But once the flying training started, everything went very smoothly, right up to the wingspread. Our training syllabus was such that we were more worried about staying in the air than we were about crashing or anything like that. That didn’t come until later. In the tiger moth, it was pretty well within a 10 mile radius. We were bound on one side by Mount McKinley and the other side by harbour at Fort William. So we were pretty well restricted. And the range was not that great in the airplane. The instructor got out of the airplane, on the ground of course, and said, you’re on your own. So I took off and flew around and I was visualizing myself as the, right after the red baron in the middle of a dogfight and all the rest of it and I look down and I had just crossed the airport at 1,000 feet. I had forgot to let down. So I went around and landed. I think, when I think about it in the past, if I had an airplane of my own, it would be a tiger moth. And you can keep your jets and all the rest of it. I never got above 10,000 feet and I had no desire to. Well, it’s hard to put it politely but I was a little sorry it was finished before I could do something to help.
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