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eight or ten feet high, in four long rows down the length of the strip. Across the middle of the strip ran a track which must have been for the use of the farm cars and tractors, and the surface, when I did a low and slow reconnaissance up the length of the field, seemed to be that of what it purported to be – a grass airstrip.


I checked the wind and chose my landing approach over a copse of trees at one end of the strip. I was aiming to touch down just over the track, which almost exactly bisected the strip into two equal halves, any one of which was long enough to accommodate a Harvard’s landing run. So I came in from 500ft, pointing right between two of the long rows of haystacks, nose well up, full flap down, engine controlling the rate of descent and the control column the airspeed, in a classic approach for a precautionary landing. We touched down just to say beyond the track and, coming to rest with no trouble, turned aside to clear that landing run between those particular haystacks. No sooner had we cleared than we saw a second Harvard preparing to follow the same pattern – but with one difference. It came in on the same heading, but whoever was flying it had obviously decided to land on the nearer half of the strip without clearing the track across it which, at this point, we had not examined closely. It was Wilcox with his pupil, and they landed as near as they could to the little wood they had to clear on the approach, but were still rolling when they hit the track. We all got out of our Harvards and Larcombe and I realised that Wilcox had met with trouble. The track was deeply rutted to a depth of perhaps of foot or more, and he had smashed his tailwheel. There was no time to worry, for the third Harvard with Gaudioz and his pupil appeared at about a thousand feet in the sky above us. By this time both Wilcox and I had realised that the strip was far from being safe – the rutted track was only one of the hazards for there were quite large stones scattered on the surface, and the whole strip was full of ant-bear holes big enough to cause problems for the landing gear of a Harvard. Before we could think any further, Gaudioz was beginning his approach. All four of us, the instructors and the pupils together, lined up and waved frantically to try to stop the landing. It was no good. Gaudioz touched down rather as Wilcox had, knocked down a haystack with one wingtip and crashed over the cross-strip track to finish up with a burst main tyre.


Gaudioz and pupil clambered out and we all six stood disconsolately viewing


the disaster. For it was a real disaster. There was no way in which we could see we were going to explain the presence of three Harvards, two unserviceable and unable to fly, on the ground of an airstrip at which we had no permission – in fact we were expressly forbidden – to land. It was going to be a court-martial. At this moment the figure of a lady appeared, moving down the side of the low hill on which we had seen the buildings we thought would be a farm. She arrived bearing a pot of tea and a tray with cups and buns and told us she


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