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perfect weather and, indeed, October was known as the suicide month as, for some, that monotony actually became unbearable. The wet season followed, with humidity to contrast with the crisp preceding months and with rain showers and rain storms which, however frequent, were usually of comparatively short duration. Towering and quite beautiful cumulus clouds would build up, clouds in which there was little turbulence to worry anyone; and the rain storms would approach, quite visible and quite defined, lasting for perhaps twenty minutes or less so that they could be avoided and flown around with no effective interference to the flying training schedules. In under two years of actual operations the writer logged 1,100 hours of instructing and that was fairly typical. To revert to that proviso, one problem about flying in these conditions


was that there was little chance to gain experience of anything other than almost ideal flying weather. A pilot could bash through the highest cumulus with impunity. Visibility, when there were no defined rainstorms around to interfere with it, was for practical navigation purposes almost unlimited. The one hazard to beware of was a bank of thin, low cloud called the ‘guti’, which occasionally drifted along from the east in the evening and which could interrupt the night flying programme. Flying began at 0600 hours each day, stopped at about 1300 hours, to be followed by night flying on a goose-neck flarepath starting at dusk (between 1800 and 1900 hours according to the season) and finishing at midnight. Flying programmes and schedules were easily completed on time, what with the perfect weather and the excellent serviceability of the Harvards. All this meant that every succeeding course of pupils was put through


the training programme bang on time and qualified pilots were churned out as if by a sausage machine. It also meant that instructors’ leave periods were both scheduled and regular – six weeks instructing, one week of leave. There was a somewhat sketchy social life around Gwelo whose white population of 1,300 was literally swamped by the 3,000 or so Service personnel stationed at Thornhill (SFTS), Guinea Fowl (EFTS) and Moffat (Navigation School). Other stations in the Rhodesian Air Training Group were clustered around the larger cities of Bulawayo and the capital, Salisbury, but Gwelo, with its one hotel and one cinema (bioscope) had to cater for its own invasion. So regular leave was a real godsend. A favourite leave venue became the Victoria Falls to the north-west


and Durban, some 840 miles south on the coast of Natal, was another, if only because it was cheaper to visit Durban. The drill was that, as our Harvards were shipped from the USA to Durban crated and in pieces, they were there assembled and test flown and were available for instructors on a week’s leave on the coast to fly them up to Rhodesia. This meant that


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