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Ronald Gaudet
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The Solo Flight of December 16 By Ronald Gaudet
My Years in the Royal Canadian Air Force By Ronald Gaudet The Solo Flight of December 16 I was posted to 59 O.T.U. 8 Dec.1941 at Crosby on Eden and flew Miles Master III and Hurricanes I and IIB. One hour dual with P/O Mould and one hour solo in the Master to get familiar with the British systems. December 16 was solo day in the Hurricane. To prepare for this we sat in the cockpit and memorized where all the instruments and controls were. Then an instructor would blindfold you and ask where the controls and instruments were one by one and you had to reach out and touch it at once with no feeling around for it. I had no problem with this so I was given a “kite to fly”. This was only to be circuits and bumps (take-off and landings) so I did not take a map along. I taxied out to the runway and got permission to take off and pushed the throttle for take-off, gained speed for lift off and now things began to happen a great deal faster than before. For instance, I had to use my left hand to fly and right to lift wheels, also adjust radiator flap, then change hands again to change pitch and set mixture. By the time I did this and checked instruments I was at 1200 feet in thick overcast with not a sign of the ground. As there were hills all around I started to turn in a big circle and went down a couple hundred feet but still no sign of the ground. I kept doing this every so often hoping to find an opening. After quite a period of time I started a very slow descent and suddenly there was a darkened patch ahead and I had to pull a steep turn as I was headed right into the side of a hill. I was down to 400 feet at this time in a valley and so I headed out toward the open spaces but did not have a clue where I was. There was a spiral of black smoke in the distance and I thought it may be Carlisle as it was near our field. I headed for it but seemed slow in overtaking it and it turned out to be a train going in the same direction as I was. However this turned out for the better as now I could see a large amount of smoke which turned out to be Carlisle and chased the river to the field. In the future I always carried a map no matter how short the trip. The trip took me 1 hour and 25 minutes but seemed like a year.