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was the wife of the farm manager, Mr Kemp, who was away attending to farm business as was the owner, a Mr McDougall. The latter was expected back at the end of the afternoon and it was, of course, still mid-morning. Triangle Ranch was only 2,000ft above sea level, some 3,000ft lower than Thornhill, and it was hot and sticky. It is doubtful if anywhere in the entire Colony one could have found three more distressed and miserable creatures than Wilcox, Gaudioz and myself, and that was not merely because we were hot and sticky. We stood there looking at one another, knowing that we faced a court-martial. Landing at other than recognised and authorised aerodromes was strictly forbidden and we had not only landed, which would have to be confessed, but had damaged two of our valuable Harvards. Mrs Kemp explained that, though Triangle Ranch was marked on the Aeronautical Edition of the Ordnance Survey maps, it had not been used as an airstrip for a long time. The first thing we needed to do was to contact Thornhill, for we should soon be known as missing. Could we telephone, we asked Mrs. Kemp? ‘Well, you can,’ she replied, ‘But it’s not easy. The nearest ’phone is at


Shabani, and that’s 54 miles away!’


Our worries were increased tenfold. What to do? There would soon be an emergency back at Thornhill, with three Harvards, three instructors and three pupils overdue. They would certainly never be able to guess even remotely at what had happened to us.


I now fail to remember who had the brainwave. Nor does it matter, for the inspiration for it was right there. We somehow had to make contact with Thornhill as soon as possible and we somehow had to have an explanation for our landings which would keep us away from a court-martial. And a possible solution was staring us in the face. The stare came from Gaudioz, who was standing looking sicker than anyone I had seen outside a hospital ward. None of us felt exactly on top of the world, but Tony’s was by far the longest face. This gave us an idea and the plot was hatched, discussed and agreed. We decided that Wilcox should take my Harvard, the only serviceable one, and fly Gaudioz back to Gwelo in a ‘seriously ill’ state. Our story would be that we were doing our cross-country formation, with Triangle Ranch as one of the turning points, when Wilcox and I saw Gaudioz peel off and go down and land on the airstrip. The Harvards had no radio and no means of contacting each other except by hand signals at close range, so Wilcox and I, the story went, had signalled to each other to go in and land to see what had happened. We did, to find that Gaudioz had been overcome by what he thought must be sunstroke, and felt so ill that he simply had to get on to the ground without delay. We, of course, had very properly gone down to see what the trouble was, and the result had been two out of three Harvards damaged. The plan depended on Gaudioz’s ability to play the part of a very sick chap – as indeed by this time he was beginning to feel as well as look. Wilcox


71


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