Konnie's Biography - Part Five

I recall one instance during a morning exercise in aerobatics, doing what we called a "whip stall' then we inadvertently did a "tailslide". This maneouvre consisted of a zoom into the vertical position, putting the engine on top, and allowing the aircraft to whip like weighted arrow into a full dive again. But in this instance it didn't want to whip, but started down, going tail first. This tremendous force on the ailerons in reverse, actually tore out one of the cable control fittings of the balance cable, so that our lateral control was missing. Fortunately we had lots of height and we were able to effect a safe landing in the desert.

We had been so absorbed in our predicament, that we had failed to look to see in which direction the aerodrome lay. So, having landed in one of the valleys between sand dunes we were completely surrounded by sand hills. With the sun almost directly overhead, we had no idea in what direction lay home. After sizing up the damage to the aircraft, and deciding against trying to fly same back I climbed to the top of the nearest sand hill and found that we were a good five miles away from our aerodrome.

I hated the thought of abandoning the aircraft and walking back over the sand dunes. If a wind should come up, the aircraft could easily be buried and perhaps hidden entirely. So I decided to taxi back to the aerodrome. This sounds quite feasible and possible, but aircraft do not taxi up steep sand hills. Hence the road back was a long circuitous route, trying to find valleys connecting up going in the general direction of the 'drome. Luck was with us that day, for we finally made it back. The trip was several hours in duration due to the fact that we had an air cooled rotary Monosoupape engine. We had to stop periodically for minutes on end to cool off the engine. By the time we got back flying was over for the day, and a search for us was already underway. The aircraft was repaired overnight and ready for Service next morning, none the worse for it's unusual experience.

We had it pretty easy at F.I.S. at first, only two pupils were allocated to each Instructor. This meant only about two hours instruction in early mornings and then again in the late afternoons or evenings. We did not attempt to fly in the "heat of the noon day sun", The temperature was just too high for our mechanical horses, to say nothing of the "drivers." Most of our flying was done within approximately two hours of daylight and then again two hours before sunset. Having to rise with the sun, practically; our sleep was split into two periods, a noon day siesta along with the usual night period, when weather permitted. The weather in this instance being atmospheric temperature, which was at the time a little hard to take.

Around camp we were allowed to dress more or less as we pleased. Most of us wore light khaki shorts, socks with native sandals, an open neck shirt and a pith helmet. But when we went into Cairo, we had to put on dress uniform, including coat and belt, properly buttoned up to meet the requirements of Regulations. There was no such thing as being properly dressed in shirt sleeves in those days. Consequently we seldom went into Cairo until the sun was well down towards the horizon.

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