Saturday, July 15, 2006

Monday, 28 February 1955

Dear Folks

Somewhere in a very remote section of the mountains is a secret, & yet very well fortified, cave. Inside this cavern are miles & miles of gleaming machines, boiling vats & steaming test tubes. In the middle of all this is a four-foot high stool. And on this stool sits a little green mad scientist. An dall he does all day long is invent menus for the Navy mess halls.

I never have been overly fond of rice, & have developed even a greater dislike for it while in the Navy. Whenever they serve rice, I look at the meat suspiciously—I have anasty feeling they’re trying to hide something.

Now don’t get me wrong—I’m crazy about this military life. I’ve always wondered how an ant colony functioned. And the horrible part about it is that the NavCads have it head & shoulders above the other services. I don’t think I could stand it now to go white-hat (regular navy swabbies).

Actually, when you come right down to it, I guess it isn’t so very bad—but I can not stand to have people tell me what to do & how & when to do it. Captain Zagrodsky from Pre-Flight had the right idea when he would say "Tonite is the Smoker (boxing competition between Battalions, held once a month). You will go to the smoker. And you will enjoy yourselves." So we all went (we were locked out of the Batt.), but a few of us cheated & didn’t enjoy ourselves—I felt very guilty.

We’ll soon be moving again—some people play chess; our Captains play "let’s move the cadets." This time we get to lug all our gear from one building to another.

Sunday I decided I’d wander around the base—so armed with my trusty camera, I headed out into the boondocks. Naturally, being a military base, Corry has been completely surrounded by a ten foot high wire fence, with a barbed-wire top. Its purpose is, to the first impression, to keep people out. But it also serves marvelously to keep people in.

The wilds of Florida, as seen through the fence, are very wild & amazingly uninviting. It’s one of those "pretty-to-look-at-if-you’re-not-too-close" situations. I imagine that tall, straw-colored grass hides a wonderous multitude of unattractive beasties, & hundreds of colorful but dangerous members of the reptile family.

During my wanderings, in a far off corner of the field, I came upon a sign saying "Restricted Area—Do Not Enter." So, naturally, I entered. I could soon see why they had no desire for eager young NavCads to come browsing about. Like the African explorer (as I somewhat fancied myself) who comes upon the burial ground of the elephants, I stumbled onto the burial ground of the airplanes which have met an untimely end. With only a bleached & twisted tail assembly to act as a tombstone, three planes (their remains) lay about the field.

One, the most complete of the wrecks, sits upon a concrete platform, reminding me of a mounted fish over a mantlepiece. I took some shots of it--& if the Navy ever found out about it, they would take a few shots of/at me.

Landed twelve times today—once good. I’m getting so that I can even take off without weaving all over the runway. But I still do little things like switching gas tanks from a full one to a near empty one, or taxiing into the wrong chocks. He (my instructor) said today that my flying was improving but my headwork was getting worse.

Oh, well.

Saw pictures of Franson’s accident & read the report on it. He got fifty feet into the air, stalled, spun to the right—hit on his right wingtip, still turning plowed a hole one foot deep & eight feet long with his prop, bounced seventy-two feet, landed upside down ("in an inverted position") at a 45 degree angle, flipped over forty-two feet, landed on its belly, & skidded backward twenty feet!

Well, as usual, I shall end on a happy note.

Till next time, I am

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