Aleck A. MacKinlay
January 11, 1916

After two days of snowy weather we were able to resume flying operations. Major Mills indicated that he had enough confidence in me to carry out a simple flight to the front lines. I was tasked with navigating my way to overfly some German positions southeast of Armentieres, and would be followed by Sergent Eric Hunt in a second BE2. Hunt is apparently a fairly fearless type, who can be counted on in a tight situation.

Our proposed path to the target had many good landmarks and I was confident that I could find my way with little trouble. We took off that dawn. I soon discovered that either I had the better plane or Hunt was not a particularly skilled pilot because twice he felt so far behind we lost sight of him. Each time Chris signaled to me that we should turn back to find him.

The ground was covered with snow and I found this a great advantage in navigation; roads and railroads were very easy to spot in contrast to the white fields. I reached the German army positions with no problem and began to circle, thrilled to see the front lines for the first time. I had been warned that we would see flak, and that it would be quite frightening, but not a single shot was fired in our direction.

Exiting a shallow turn to port, I spotted a dot in the sky to the southwest. A wave of fear immediately engulfed me as I was sure we were about to be attacked by one of the dreaded Eindekkers I had heard so much about. I pointed and Chris turned in his seat to see why my face had dropped. He turned back with a look of concern and pointed to the northwest; we had strict instructions to run for home at the first sign of trouble. I nodded and banked in that direction. We passed through a large cloud the obscured us for a few minutes and my fears began to subside. As we exited the cloud I was shocked to see the mystery aircraft ahead to the left, obviously moving to cut off our retreat. My head began to buzz and my stomach seemed to drop through the bottom of me seat.

Chris pulled out his binoculars and scanned the distant aircraft. He turned back and yelled "Aviatik, no worries" and signaled that we should turn back to complete our mission. My bowels were completely liquid at this point and I had no desire to do anything other than head home, but obviously could not let my feelings be known. We overflew the German frontline positions for a few more minutes and then Chris indicated we should head for home. I realize now why he made had me go back; he wanted me to feel the fear and not run away or abandon my mission.

The trip home was uneventful and, thanks to generous landmarks, any questions about my navigation skills seem to have been put to rest. Hunt told me that I had flown well and congratulated me, then indicated he was off to have a word with the mechanics about the poor state of his aircrafts engine. Chris also seemed quite pleased with my performance, but I told him I was honestly scared silly when we saw that enemy aircraft. All he said was, "That's OK Aleck, so was I" with a big grin on his face.

Attached Files 2019.01.11 -
Last edited by 77_Scout; 01/11/19 09:06 PM.