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very little close eyework and it was not until 1947 that I found myself behind a desk for most of the day. At that time, my sight deteriorated very rapidly and the Board’s prediction proved accurate, with my sight quickly needing glasses for long distance viewing. The result of that day’s work produced a problem, not so much for me in the sense that my high blood pressure made no difference to anything, but for the Squadron. Here I was, pronounced officially by the RAF’s highest medical authority to be unfit to fly, so what was my position as a flying cadet member of the OUAS? It was obviously a problem for the CO and now I had my first experience of what makes some people bigger than others. Wing Commander Park should, by all accounts, have grounded me forthwith. If I flew after that medical and was involved in any trouble at all – any damage, any crash – he would have been guilty of neglecting his duty. Of course, in those days I was flying as a pupil with an instructor, and any trouble would not have been due to me. But Keith Park had obviously determined that I would continue flying, and that I would go to the annual camp at the end of the summer term, go solo, and qualify for my Private Pilot’s Licence. That is what he told me he would do, and that is what happened. I came back for my last term in May 1934, still a flying member, and went off to the summer camp with the Squadron with, by now, a total of 22 hours 15 minutes in my logbook. Camp was at the RAF station at Eastchurch, on the island of Sheppey. On


the very first day, June 26th, I flew for an hour with the CFI., S/Ldr Dalzell and, the same afternoon, with W/Cdr Park for 30 minutes on my solo test. I was sent solo in Avro 504N numbered K2370 at 13.20 hours that afternoon, for just one circuit and landing. That was followed without a break by a further twenty minutes solo and I could at last claim to be able to fly all by myself. The rest of the camp’s fortnight was not uneventful. I was given dual almost exclusively by S/Ldr Dalzell and when we had a state visit by Sir Philip Sassoon, the Air Minister, I was introduced as the first pupil to go solo that year. I remember shaking him by the hand and him looking intently at me without saying a single word. I think he was something of a snob. The Squadron, just at this time, was given two or three Avro Tutors to replace or supplement the 504s. These were to be flown only by the more skilled of our cadets and I was quite chuffed to find I was among them. The Tutor was of the same basic design as the 504N, but it was a cleaner version, with a Townend Ring around its cylinder heads, and it cruised in level flight at 110 m.p.h. This meant that it could be looped straight off the level, without the need to put the nose down to get up speed as with the 504. It seemed to an inexperienced pilot like myself that it was a lovely aerobatic aircraft and on the morning of the 27th I tried my first solo aerobatics. As already mentioned, excitement was what seemed to make me sick and after twenty minutes of aerobatics in the Tutor I began to feel very ill indeed. It was just the sheer thrill of handling this


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