"There was quite a strong crosswind that day and I had the aircraft under control, but I taxied by his office, he claims, at 25 mile an hour."
You had to be pretty sharp when you were flying to become an instructor. I ended up as a staff pilot. In the navigation flights, we flew the Avro Anson basically and there was room for four or five observers in there, so there was really a navigation instructor along and two or three or four navigation students, each starting the flight of the aircraft.
When you became a pilot at the Air Observer School, you were let go on leave without pay from the air force and then became a civilian pilot. Oh, it was pretty thrilling for a while, but it was quite dull work. You flew straight and level. At one point, I was the first aircraft back out of 20 aircraft that had gone on the navigation flight, so that I had to taxi past the flight commander’s office. And there was quite a strong crosswind that day and I had the aircraft under control, but I taxied by his office, he claims, at 25 mile an hour. So he invited me to resign and I said, “That’s fine, I would like a posting overseas,” which of course I never got. He sent me packing back into the air force.
I was sent to Souris, Manitoba, for basically a refresher course in flying and that was in the fall of 1943. And they were just starting the training at this school for Service Flying Training and so they didn’t have any idea of what to do as a refresher course. And I ended up not taking it because I was involved in an airplane crash with an Australian flight lieutenant. We went on a bombing exercise where we bombed the station control tower, AO’s [Air Observer’s] deck, which was together at the centre of the station, at the flying school where we were flying at Souris. And when we finished that exercise, it was up at 2000 feet.
Anyway, the flight lieutenant decided he wanted to go and do a little bit of low flying, and in the course of this low flying, we crashed into the ground. And I survived the crash, but he was court-martialed and I had to wait at Souris for about two months for them to have the court martial. And then after that, I got posted back into Winnipeg and into the No. 3 Wireless Training School.
We were always late for our bus ride, which started out at the motor pool, over to Stevenson Field to start out flying in the day, at 7:00 in the morning, it was leaving time. And when you got on the bus, it was full and so we looked around and picked a pretty WD [Women’s Division] who’s lap to sit on and that’s how I met her and maybe then, I guess sit, basically she would end up on your lap, in the bus. Instead of standing all the way to the bus, Stevenson Field which was five or six miles distance from the actual wireless school.
She was only 19 but I was 21. She dated me for a sleigh ride and then when there was no snow, the sleigh ride ended up as a dance in their quarters and that was our first date. And then a couple of dates later, I asked her to marry me. And this was about three or four days after New Year’s. So we didn’t set any date at that time, of course, but then about the first part of February, a posting came along for May to move to a station in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and a promotion to a corporal. We decided, well, one way to defeat that was to get married, so we set the wedding date ahead of the posting and the posting got cancelled because the air force at that time had a policy, they didn’t separate married couples. So that was why the hurry up wedding. Then about four or five months later, we discovered that we were going to start having a family and so then the air force decided that our service was no longer required, which is exactly what was written on our discharge papers.