Looks like everyone is battling the weather. Raine, that last entry made me sweat!
5-6 December, 1915 Le Bourget Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
“Fly some circuits near the aerodrome at 1000 m. Land and do it all over again at 2000 m for 1 to 2 hours.” they said. “Simple enough!” Gaston was in a good mood. The bottle of red wine he procured last night had something to do with it. There were no clear signs of weather improvement in the skies above. The heavy rain clouds would be Gaston’s companions for the next few flights, it would seem. The Caudron was prepared and waiting for him ready for the next test. He strapped himself in. Engine 2 RPMs were a tad lower than #1 but nothing to be concerned about. The large biplane had no issues climbing up to 1000 m despite the reports of strong winds. Gaston circled the aerodrome for 15 minutes and started his descent for the first landing. Everything went smoothly and now he was climbing back again, this time up to the prescribed 2000 m altitude. Once he reached 1800 m the machine refused to climb any higher. It was as if the plane was anchored to the ground. Gaston reduced the incline angle nearly to zero to see if that would help. The lumbering crate started to slowly gain altitude. Finally, when the 2000 mark was reached Gaston found himself rather fatigued from fighting the wind gusts and with great pleasure and relief started his descent and landing procedure. The next day the circling exercise had to be repeated but with a climb up to 3000 m! Why would anyone ever need to fly this high? The cloud cover was much lower today, so it was certain Gaston would have to navigate between these fluffy giants. Thankfully the wind wasn’t a factor today and Gaston was able to reach altitude without too much trouble. Trouble started when he had to fly above the clouds and the aerodrome was hidden from view for some time. Nothing looked familiar when he was able to glimpse parts of the ground through the gaps. He finally decided to drop beneath the clouds to get his bearings. The clouds were as low as 1600 m and with him having to drop below them, it was a significant departure. He was afraid the instructors would make him do the entire exercise again. He climbed again after recognizing some features. Paris is to the south of the aerodrome. He could see the sprawling city far in the distance. That was as much direction as he would need. Back in the clouds to complete the full hour before coming back for a landing. Once the time was up he dropped below the clouds once more to line up for a landing. He looked around. The aerodrome was nowhere to be found. Paris was nowhere in sight. “Zut alors!” Gaston was lost. When looking at the map he remembered there was a forest north of the aerodrome. He was flying over one right now. Was this the forest he remembered from the map? Only one way to find out. He pointed the nose of the aircraft south and waited. And waited. Finally! There it was - outskirts of Paris, just ahead. Gaston breathed a sigh of relief. He found his way back! From there on it was easy to locate the field. He landed at once and promised himself to carry a map with himself on every flight. No matter how insignificant. And with the next lesson being a cross country dash it only made sense.
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."