Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World War II Letters Home Oct 23, 1938-Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                   Brize Norton
                                                                                                   October 23, 1938

Dear Folks:

Well, this is the end of another Sunday - the time seems to fly.  Another 7 weeks and I will be through Junior Term and be in the Senior Term or A.T.B. (Advanced Training Squadron).  It seems like only yesterday that we came to this place.  I seemed to have lost your last letter so  don't remember what was in it - whether you asked me any questions or not.

Saturday mornings we always have lectures, but yesterday I got leave for the whole day and went with a friend to Donnington Park (near Derby) to see the International Car Races.  It is about 90 miles from here; we went by car. When we got in the park we could hear these terrific whinnings and buzzings, it just sounded like an amplified mad hornets nest.  So we walked up to the fence right beside the race course, we could hear a car coming, then it came over the hill top and with a we-e-aw it came past us and was down the straightaway at about 200 m.p.h.

They had a winding course about 3 miles long through the woods and around.  Those cars just came up to the corners and opened up the throttle and with a roaring whine they skidded around and away they went again.  At one place they came up a fairly steep little knoll at a corner and sometimes they came up the hill and around so fast that all 4 wheels were off the ground.  It sure was exciting - I even forgot about dinner and tea.  I borrowed a real fast camera with a shutter speed of 1/1,000 of a second and took 34 pictures (all on one roll).  I haven't got them developed yet but as soon as I can I'll send you some of those action pictures.  An Italian driver by the name of Nuvolari won in an Auto Union (German Car).  It was incredible they way they even kept on the track the way those cars went - the front wheels seemed to be off the ground half the time.

After the race was over we had lunch and then went to Reading to a cocktail party that some high mucky mucks (friends of the chap I was with) were having. We met the very 'charming' hostess, and stayed there for a couple of hours, then left for home.  Besides sherry and cocktails there was a table just loaded down with all kinds of what-nots, etc.  All sorts of cheese, nut and fruit mixtures, etc. on little wee biscuits or whatever they were, also olives, salted nuts, stuffed prunes with cheese inside them and quarter of a walnut on top.  Anyhow, whatever they were I sampled nearly all of them.  Oh yes, there were some anchovy rolls, you know, little anchovies or maybe slices of them (I don't know) rolled in a sort of pastry.  This sort of informal affair is only supposed to last from 6 to 8 o'clock. it was all quite interesting besides being another new experience.  It sure breaks up the monotony of camp life to be able to get out once in a while.  The English people have a wonderful manner of talking about trivial nothings for hours and you would actually think they were talking about something.

We have been trying to get in some night flying for the last week but it hasn't been very successful - fog usually settles in about 10 o'clock and ruins visibility.  I got one trip of dual flying.  We land by flares on the ground as we come in close to the ground we switch on the landing light which throws a powerful light down the landing area.

Also on Friday we started formation flying.  Our instructors took us up for one trip and told us all about it, then we went up solo - 2 planes at a time and flew formation.  We changed about from leading to following on either side.  It is quite goo fun.  It isn't quite as easy as I had thought it would be - you have to keep opening and closing throttles to keep you correct distance.  Dick Lascelles (the fellow I was formatting with) and i got along quite well for the first time.  I suppose we shall be getting more practice this week again.

The Maintenance Officer was giving us a lecture the other day and he said that on an average 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of petrol were used each flying day at this station.  Isn't it a terrific figure that all this flying business cost the British people.

I am going to try to get a map rolled up and send it to you this week (it's one I borrowed), so you'll be able to sort of follow our maneuvers.  This map is on the scale of a4 miles to the inch, so the landmarks are all quite easy to read.

I have to disappoint you but I won't be sending any birthday presents.  I'll try to send them later on, but I wish you, Mama and Richard, very happy birthdays with many more to come.

I must crawl into bed now and I'll get that map and a few other papers away this week.

I think Richard should try to write me a letter once a week, even if it isn't a long letter -- if you know how I look forward to getting letters you wouldn't write so seldom.



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