There was some initial rough landings at No. 10

Published on Tuesday, 25 October 2022 07:44

By Ed Stozek
Herald Staff

One of the first mishaps at No. 10 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) occurred on March 20, 1941.

Pilot-Officer Thompson reported hitting a tree on Riding Mountain while giving Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Heal, a student pilot, instruction on instrument flying. With substantial damage to the wing, the plane returned to the airdrome and landed successfully. Thompson was charged with low-flying. Damage to the Harvard plane amounted to $750 and necessitated shipping the wings to a depot for repair.

On April 9, 1941, one of the courses, Course No. 25, started with the majority of the class composed of student pilots from Brandon’s Manning Pool. By June 21, 49 attained their “wings”, two failed, seven were “washed out’ during the course and two were killed due to plane-related fatalities.

Group Captain D.W.F. Bonham-Carter made the presentation, addressing a few words of congratulation to the graduates individually as he pinned the wings on their chests.

At the conclusion of the ceremony he addressed the class as a whole, telling them to be cautious and not to take unnecessary risks but not to hesitate to take whatever risk arose in their line of duty. Thirty-two of the graduates were posted overseas and 17 to CFS Trenton for further training as instructors.

As the courses progressed, mishaps kept the maintenance crew busy. By May 1, there were 12 accidents. If repairs couldn’t be made at the crash site, the crew dismantled the wings and loaded the downed plane onto a truck.

On May 23, in his daily reports J. S. Williamson, F/L noted, “Two accidents today. Nobody hurt. Must be a lot of spare horse shoes around, everyone seems to be so lucky. LAC Tate, J.C., student pilot in Harvard 3783, low flying in Fisher River area – 46 miles north. Struck a backhouse (outhouse) in the Stony Creek school grounds with his port wing. Aileron and seven feet at outer end of wing torn off. Backhouse disintegrated. Tate managed to fly back to the aerodrome minus aileron and half of wing. Made a perfect landing. Two charges laid against him of low flying and endangering life.”

The next day Tate was charged before W/Cdr. Wilson and remanded for a summary of evidence to be taken by S/L Dupont.

The other accident involved LAC McLachlan, W.J.A. who force landed in a Harvard, seven miles north of No. 10.

“The aircraft turned over on its back, damaging the rudder and prop. Repairs were made on the spot and craft was flown back. McLachlan forgot to close the altitude control when doing aerobatics resulting in a ‘conked’ engine.”

On May 24, the first fatality occurred to LAC Bolton when his Harvard plane spiraled into the ground at 11 p.m. while on solo night flying practice from the relief field north of Dauphin. The plane hit the ground two miles northwest of the field, followed by an explosion and then it burst into flames killing Bolton instantly. Station Chaplain Littlewood officiated at the funeral on May 27. Six Leading Aircraftsmen acted as pallbearers and escorted Bolton’s remains to the train station for shipment to Toronto.

On June 5, LAC Alexander became the second fatality while flying at night. The funeral was held the next day at the Bullmore Funeral Home in Dauphin. Littlewood officiated and six confreres acted as escorts.

On June 17, the District Court Martial of Sgt. Tate commenced at 9 a.m. and adjourned at 5 p.m. On June 18 the sessions were completed and forwarded its findings.

On June 23 the court martial finding on Sgt. Pilot J.C. Tate was received and ordered to be promulgated (made known) at a full wing parade. Five squadrons were lined up at the parade ground. F/O J. Sinclair, station adjutant, read the findings. Tate was severely reprimanded and had $75 deducted from his pay. That was not bad of a price for flying low over a school yard and hitting an outhouse while trying to impress a lady school teacher. Dr. Medd, a doctor from Winnipegosis and part of the review board, stated that if the pilot could safely land a plane in distress then he would be an asset to the forces overseas.

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