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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

My First Flight

My First Flight.

It was at a pantomime that I caught the flying fever. A charming girl sang a charming song, "Up In My Aero plane"; and perhaps it was violet eyes and a dimpled chin that really made me long to become an airman. Anyway, when the Great War started, I enlisted with visions of the Flying Corps; but—I became a Camelier.

Well, riding a 'hooshter" was a step upwards, as it were; and at lengh Fate tossed me into an A.F.C. camp. When the chance came to realise the hope of half a lifetime, I found my enthusiasm chilling a bit. You see, I had been an eye witness of some terrible smashes; and, somehow, flying didn't appear to be so divine now.

I donned the leather helmet and adjusted the goggles, clinched my teeth, and tried to look unconcealed, while 1 listened to advice from half a dozen grinning pilots.

"Mighty gusty," says one, addressing the pilot who was taking me up. "I wouldn't go high, Jack; it was just such a day as this when poor Bob Danton crashed."

"The old 'plane looks pretty ricketty," remarked another airman, to me. "If you get the tip that she is going to crash, hop out on to the wing; you'll have a chance—Buckley's—of escaping with only a couple of broken limbs."

I' felt like doing a bolt, but could think of no reasonable reason for postponing my first flight. So I climbed into the front seat of the 'plane, fastened the strap, and gripped the sides of the "car" till my knuckles became while.

"Petrol on, switch off, suck in, sir," cried the mechanic, giving the propellor a twirl. … "Contact."

"All clear, contact," shouted the pilot, and the machine started to quiver like a captive moth; presently she rushed over the ground, while the wind roared past and twanged the wing wires to madness. Then the 'plane rose with the grace of as callow, and up, up We soared towards leaven. I never loved the ear so much as at that moment of leaving it. At an altitude of about 5000 feet, the pilot kept her straight; and though I felt sick and giddy, my nerves steadied a bit. In fact, I began to enjoy this thrilling aerial journey. I ventured to look over the tide, but drew back my head t flash. It was reining, and big drops stung my face as if it had stopped a charge of tin tacks. I was still feeling sore about the matter when the 'plane started to bed over and move in circles. This manœuvre put the wind up me I seemed to be spinning, a million miles above earth, on the crown of a giant top t it was awful; but woes was to follow.

Put not your trust in pilots. My skipper had vowed, on earth, that he wouldn't put up any stunts on me; but no v that we were hurtling through space, he began to play dice with Death. We looped the loop, did side slips, and finished up with a spinning nose dive. I can't describe my sensations during these appalling events. All I remember is, that 1 clung desperately to whatever I could grip, shut my eyes, and waited 10 be dashed to bits.

When I opened my eyes again, the "bus" was resting on a grassy place near the t while a group of pilots and mechanics stood around, vainly striving to look sympathetic, Somebody helped me out—how good it was- to feel the solid earth—and I crept away to my tent, cured forever of the flying fever: a camel's hump is high enough for me.