Madison County's Honor Roll - World War I
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Training Air Pilots

By Lieut. H. Earl Munz

During the war the training for prospective pilots in the Air Service was 
divided into three periods: Ground School, Mobilization, and Flying. 
The length of the course varied from four to ten months. Among the Ground schools were Ithaca, Princeton, Boston, Columbus, Champagne, Berkeley and Austin. At the time of the writer's Ground School training the prescribed course was eight weeks. Later it was extended to twelve.

Final examinations were held in infantry drill regulations, courts-martial, army regulations, army paper work, motors, airplanes, meteorology, instruments and compasses, map-reading, modern warfare, aerodynamics, wireless sending and receiving, installation and fundamental principles of radio, etc. A concentrated, comprehensive knowledge of all these subjects was required and obtained. Many men could not stand the work or retain their quickly acquired knowledge, and they fell by the wayside. A list posted every Saturday told the story of success or failure.

At Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas, constant drilling, reviewing, studying, hiking and preparing for inspections was the day's work. Any sin against discipline or order was usually paid for by a hike of 25 miles over Texas roads, under a Texas sun. The Dallas people were wonderful in their hospitality. Nothing seemed to be too good for a cadet. The beautiful Dallas Country Club was always open for Camp Dick's men.

One morning at about two o'clock 25 cadets, of whom the writer was one, got off the train at Wichita Falls, Texas, and were piled into two motor trucks. They wondered what Call Field would be like. Their experience did not lessen their wonderment, for, as they started to pile out at reveille, a friendly "non-com." yelled: "You men better not turn out for reveille; you haven't had much sleep. Breakfast will be served at ten o'clock!" However, future events showed that the life was not entirely a path of roses.

The first flight was rather disappointing. The only sensation was that of nosing swiftly downward. It was the same feeling that is experienced in an express elevator, only more so. The first real thrill came after the cadet was "turned loose." He had had from two to ten hours in the air with an instructor, and was now considered able to try it alone. Somehow he got the ship into the air and returned to the field. He breathed a big sigh of relief when the ship again rested on terra firma; the ordeal was over and he was now on the way to earn the coveted double wings of the pilot. There were six stages to pass through before these wings and the commission were forthcoming: the dual stage, accompanied by an instructor; the first solo stage, where the cadet learns to land accurately; the R.M.A. stage, in which he learns spirals, side-slips, cross-wind take-offs and landings; the formation stage where he learns to know every movement of his ship and becomes able to control its flight with greater dexterity; the cross-
country stage, which consists of long trips and side-slipping into small fields; and, finally, the stunt stage, in which he learns the Immelman turn, loops, tail-spin, falling leaf, reversements and vrilles. When all these stages
have been passed successfully the cadet is commissioned a Second Lieutenant, A.S.(A)R.M.A.

The lieutenant is now a pilot in the sense that he can fly, but much hard
and interesting work is ahead of him before he becomes a real aviator. For the finishing touches he is sent to an advanced flying school. There are three kinds of pilots: pursuit pilots, bombers, and Army Corps pilots. The writer was sent to the Pursuit School at Rockwell Field, San Diego, Cal.

The writer's greatest sensation in his flying career was experienced above the clouds in Southern California. It was a dark, gloomy, misty day on the ground and he almost gave up the idea of flying. But, acting on a "hunch," 
he took off in the rain. A heavy layer of dark clouds hung about fifteen hundred feet from the ground. The ship dove into the layer and climbed up through the cold damp mass for about ten minutes. Suddenly, a dazzling brightness was apparent as the ship rose out of the mass. There was not a cloud to hide the blue sky above and the sun smiled down on the cloud bank below, making it appear like heaped-up snow mixed with rainbows. Not a living thing was in sight. It was as though the ship were alone in space, except that a few miles away two snowy mountain peaks lifted themselves through the clouds. It was with deep regret that the pilot left this scene to drop down into the commonplace world again.

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