School of Air Navigation
Royal Air Force
June 13, 1939
I got your letter of May 21 today, it took 23 days to get here - I don't know why. It shouldn't take over 21 or 14 days, but as long as I get them I don't mind.
In another 2 1/2 weeks I'll leaving Manston unless I get on Astro course which I don't think is very likely as they are only taking 2 or 3 out of our class of 45. I may be fortunate enough to come back for it later on after I am at a Squadron. Anyhow, I'll be able to get my 2nd class Navigator's License after I leave here so that will be alright (I hope)!)
We are night flying tonight. I think that I am 1st navigator. I am not sure as I haven't seen the program yet. We take off at 10:30 and get back about 1:00 a.m. We won't have to get up until 9:00 o'clock tomorrow. From here we got to Wyton, Bircham, Newton and return. These places are about 90 miles north and a little west of here, just south of the Wash. It's jolly fine flying over towns at night, some of them make pretty patterns. I mean the street lights, as some are rows of blue arc-lights, others are yellow (fog lights), others are just like ordinary white ones. the big red and blue neon signs show up very plainly too. We tell how much the wind is blowing us off course by watching these lights on the ground as they pass down the drift wires on the the bomb sight. Then all we have to do is alter course to one side or other to counteract this drift - that makes our actual path in the correct direction.
We usually have a different pilot every trip, some of them aren't as good as others, but with a bit of complicated navigating we usually manage to get within a couple miles of our destination. When we fly over the North Sea our courses are generally from 1 light ship to another. Light ships are anchored vessels with fog sirens and flashing beacons on them - used for marine navigation. Sometimes when we come to a light ship that is a turning point for us, the pilot goes down and "shoots it up" (you should know by now what that means). The other day our pilot gave us an exhibition for real flying - he came so close to this Dutch light ship that I thought he was going to cut the ropes off the masts. I guess these keepers on the vessels get pretty lonesome - when they saw us coming they hoisted the Dutch flag as a salute to us, and stood on deck waving to us. When about 3 or 4 planes start shooting up a passenger ship, everyone comes up on deck and waves their hands off - maybe they are trying to shoo us away.
As soon as I remember to buy some glue, I have a few magazines I want to send to you, also my Commission signed by the King.
I'm sorry about Mrs. Mackay not receiving my Christmas card because I did send her one, in fact she was about the 1st one in Stenen that I thought of sending one. I'll write her a little letter and send her a photo - that will make her feel good, I betcha!
Well, I am going to get washed up for supper, then I'll do a bit of studying before we go up tonight. I'll write some more again tomorrow. Probably I'll know some more news.
We didn't fly Tuesday night as per schedule so it will be either tonight or tomorrow night. All our our day-navigation is completed so there is the one night trip to do. During the next fortnight we will be struggling through our final exams.
Our squadron leader instructor said today that we would probably be posted at Honington in Norfolk for a month or 2 after leaving here. We will be putting in day and night time as 2nd pilot to qualify as 1st pilot for twin engines when we finally get transferred to our squadrons. I think that we will most likely fly Harrows (not the line you have in the field).
I saw in today's paper that Kingie and Queenie think Prince Edward Island is a very fine spot, also that they intend to revisit Canada and take the Princesses with them.
I am enclosing one of my mess bills just to give you and idea of how they mount up. Sometimes they are more and sometimes less, this is a fair average though.
I can't find anything else lying around that I can send and I don't know what else to write about so I guess I'll just have to quit. It's about time Richard and Dad struggled through another letter - isn't it?? How's the flu Richard - has it still gotcha? Will write again next week.
As Ever, Love,