William Stanley did fly again after lunch. He took an FK3* up and circled around underneath the steel grey clouds at 6000 feet before making a landing that he was quite pleased with. Captain Moller described it as "too steep and too harsh. Keep it up and you shall break the undercarriage."
Dismissed for the day, Stanley left the aerodrome to walk along the main road up to the officers' mess. Every day there were onlookers here; old men, women, men from the factories on Sundays and schoolchildren whenever they could. There had been flying at Doncaster since the first air meeting in 1909, and the people of the town still enjoyed the spectacle.
"You're very brave young man," a lady in an old grey shawl told Stanley as he passed by. "Thank you madam," the newly fledged pilot replied. "Them aeroplanes are very dangerous," the lady replied. "Last week a poor soul fell out!" This gave William reason to pause. "Fell out?" The woman nodded "Ooh yes. He was very high up. Arms and legs waving. God rest him, the ambulance ran out fast, but he can't have survived that fall." "How terrible." "Yes. Every few weeks some poor soul falls out. Very often the aeroplane just keeps on flying away. It's aweful." Stanley blinked at the woman, "do you often come to watch the flying?" "Oh yes. It's a modern miracle."
Opposite the main entrance to the racecourse, a large townhouse provided the RFC officers with both a mess and accomodation. It was exceeding richly furnished in the fashion of Edwardian England. Polished wood floors peeked out from under rich Persian rugs. The walls were papered with light coloured textured lincrusta in art nouveau patterns, however it was mostly hidden behind paintings, hunting trophies and sporting prints. This was clearly the house of a sportsman.
Unusually, to Stanley's mind, amongst the foxes and highland stags were posters for the Blue Cross fund. In these the league for the protection of 'Our Dumb Friends,' decried the plight of working horses, especially those serving with the army. There was even a collection box in the mess bar.
"It's Lord Lonsdale's house," a greasy haired student pilot explained, "well not his main house. He uses it for the races." "I thought so," Stanley replied. "There are pictures of him everywhere." The greasy haired young man blinked. "Do you know him? I'm Barnestaple by the way, how d'you do?" Stanley shook the proferred hand. "Not personally. I have seen him about, most recently at Windsor just before the war. My name's Stanley. Have you been flying today?" "Not today. We can't all fly at once. Hopefully tomorrow. Did you go up then?" "Yes. Just a few circuits to get used to the machines. I say! I have a thirst, is the bar through here. Come along!"
There was more flying the next day. Stewart made a cross country flight to the nort east of Doncaster. The confluence of the Trent and the Ouse loomed in the distance before he turned back for home.
After landing Stanley was met by another student pilot. "Hello what?" The yellow coated man grinned. "You've been up a few times eh?" "Why yes," Stanley replied, removing his flying gloves. "Now that you have a handle on the controls, I wonder if you could settle a wager between my friends and I?" "Oh?" Stanley raised his eyebrows. "What wager is this?" "We think that no cavalry man can loop a BE2." The pilot rocked on his heels. "Its a skill that it takes an engineer to accomplish." Stanley scowled. "I say! I was in the Blues you know. I'm as good as any sapper!" "So you'll do it?" The man wheedled. "Do what?" "Loop in a BE. It would have to be over the aerodrome. So that we could see." Stanley was indignant. "Of course I can loop. Fifty pounds says I can." Was that a moment of worry on the man's face? "That's a bit rich. However, I think that I can live with the guilt of relieving you of that cash." "You're on!"
As the man walked back to his friends, Stewart wondered what he had let himself in for.
The house belongs to Lord Lonsdale, also known as the yellow earl. He was well known in sporting circles and spent most of the family fortune on extravagance. He was also a rival to the Earl of Derby (William Stanley's father). The two vied to raise more pals' battalions than the other.
Good stories gentlemen. Your handwriting is far clearer than mine, Mortuus. Mine looks like a spider stepped in some ink.