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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Soviet Ilyushin 10 Heavy Attack Aircraft Pilot Chapter 2

A poster appeared at the barracks "Future Airmen and Parachutists were invited to pull up stumps and build an aerodrome and hangers for gliders and planes." Well if they needed stumps pulled we would go after work and pull some stumps. To be honest flying had always been a dream and now maybe this poster would be my chance. I would pull so many stumps they would have to let me fly out of embarrassment. How could they not let the best stump puller in the world fly?

I headed for the given address to sign up. The next week I went for a physical and was pronounced fit. Next was the oral exam and I fell asleep waiting to be called up. I heard my name and jumped up out of a sound sleep and not yet fully awake rushed into the office. I was asked extensive questions about my family and then some geography questions. After getting and easy question wrong I mentally slapped myself and told myself that if I wanted to become a pilot I had better wake up...NOW. It seemed to work and I was almost perfect from there on in.

The next meeting I found out my fate was to fly gliders and not planes. I was very disappointed but determined to be the best glider pilot I could be so they had to let me fly a real plane.

We studied all winter and it was hard to combine work and studies but it had to be. That spring we started gliding. We took off from a high bank over the Moscow river and hovered. The gliders were launched in a very primitive way. The trainee pilot would be shot into the air by the rest of us like a sling shot. If you were lucky you could last for 2 to 3 minutes of gliding and then it was back to pulling on the elastic bands to shoot others into the sky. Every day that summer I would go to the bank of the river and sling others into the air for my chance to fly for 3 minutes.

In October 1934 a test train of two red wagons road the Metro. We shouted and sang songs, ran after the wagon, hugged and danced. By May 1935 the Metro was open for public use and our Comsomol organization was awarded the Order of Lenin.

In flying club we studied flight theory, aerial navigation, meteorology and the "Flight Operations Manual" for the U-2 trainer. By Springtime we would take the train to Malye Vyazemy and walk a kilometer through the woods to our aerodrome where there was a large field with buildings and hangers. We were sternly drilled that the "Flight Operations Manual" was written in blood and was not to be taken lightly.

We learned the basics on a plane mounted on a pedestal, manipulating the levers and how the different parts of the plane worked. We also learned from the mechanics how the engine worked and how to repair it if need be.

A week before I was to go into the sky for the first time my job was to prepare grout from cement, sand and other components to fill the seam of the walls of the Metro. It was difficult to do with gloves on so I took them off and started grouting with my bare hands. After the shift I washed my hands and there was no skin on them and they hurt terribly. "What about flying?" the voice in my head screamed.

A the end of the second 5 day week my hands had skinned over and I immediately went to the aeroclub. Never would I put my hands in jeopardy again in such a foolish manner.

The day of my first flight had come. "To your planes" the instructor ordered. One by one we took our turns for our first flight. When my turn came and after I was strapped in the instructor spoke to me through the speaking tube. I was instructed to hold the levers softly and memorize the movements. After the third turn the instructor shouted "steer the plane." It was very unexpected and as I struggled with the pedals and the stick the machine would not obey my movements. It seemed like an eternity and I knew my flying days were numbered. I could not control that bucking beast. Besides that I was terrified.

The instructor took over, after it was apparent that I had failed, with not a word. After we had landed I expected to be thrown out of the program and was quite miserable looking I'm sure. He looked at me and said "no one succeeds on their first go". It was a reprieve. I was saved. I lived to fly another day.

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