MFair and Maeran, welcome to the fray! Good to have you onboard.
7 December, 1915 Le Bourget Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
With the newly acquired map of Marne region securely in his pocket, Gaston was sitting at the controls of the Caudron flying east. The instructions were to fly for an hour, land and take off and return back home. He was sitting hunched over the map last night with a generous glass of Le Pinard, planning his route. The map was prepared by Monsieur Louvert et Fils Co. and was exactly what Gaston needed. All the roads, railroad tracks, cities, forests, rivers and other landmarks were carefully plotted in great detail. It was simply magnificent. It had the added bonus of the locations of all Entente and all known enemy aerodromes and the extents of the battlefront lines, current as of printing. “Let’s see...” Gaston thought to himself looking at the scale in the bottom left corner. “The grid looks to be calibrated to about 15 km apart. If my Caudron flies at an average speed of 120km/h then I should cover ... (counts in his head and on his fingers) ... ... ... 8 squares!” He traced his finger 8 grid lines east of Le Bourget and stopped on Epernay. “Hmmm, this looks like a nice spot for a picnic.” He had his destination, now for the difficult part: plotting the route. He examined the map again and noticed that the path to the destination is dotted nearly in a straight line by a series of wooded areas. “That’s it! I’ll simply bunny hop from one forest to the next until I hit Epernay. Oh la la! I need to choose my words more carefully.” He was now approaching the first wooded area. There was a satisfying grin forming under his moustache, which immediately turned into frown. A slight miscalculation on Gaston’s part. The ground fog blanketed the entire surface making it impossible to see the next wooded area. Gaston simply could not “connect the dots”, that figured so prominently on his map. He quickly formulated a backup plan. Follow the roads. Why hasn’t he started with this plan in the first place? Because the roads don’t go there directly in a straight line, instead they turn and twist, which makes following them that much more difficult. Gaston turned south until he met a road that ran in the east-west direction and started to follow it. He soon found out that flying above the road wasn’t the best way to go about it, as his forward visibility was very limited by the wings, the 2 engine nacelles and the forward cockpit with the observer, his forward view was next to nonexistent. He pretty much had to navigate based on the ground he’s already covered, as the unobstructed view was to the rear and partially to the sides. He flew along rivers and railway tracks as much as the roads. Anything that was running perpendicular to his flight path served as distance markers indicating how far he had progressed along his journey, promptly checked against his map. This and the clock ticking on the dashboard. For Gaston it was not really telling the time, but counting down the minutes to his destination. The time seemed to move twice as fast as normal with the vigilant observation of the road and waiting for the landmarks to slip by. It was nearly time to make the scheduled landing when Gaston noticed the sprawling Foret de la Charmoye, just east of Epernay. He was nearly there and on time! Gaston’s excitement grew with each mile closer to the city. He was amazed how trouble-free the entire voyage had been. He was ready to land when he noticed an aerodrome south of Epernay. It had to be Villeneuve-les-Vertus. He decided to circle it before landing on the nearby road and be on his way back home. He made a low level pass over the field and waved to the men running out of the sheds and hangars to see what the whole ruckus was all about. He made one more circuit and turned south towards the road to land. Too bad he wasn’t allowed to land at the aerodrome as the fog was thicker in these parts. He made his descent, checked that the road was clear of any traffic and lined up for the landing. 100 m ... 50 m ... 10 m ... CRACK!
"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."