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short of it, to yell for help by radio, and trust to luck that they could send out and pick me up. The first course was too risky. I would be making untold miles to leeward all the time, would probably roll the masts and funnels out of her, and maybe bust down anyhow, too far off for help. The second choice was the safest. I could reach Ferrol or Vigo all right, but they would probably try to intern me; and while I had heard that King Alfonso was a regular guy and a good scout to run around with, the ensuing diplomatic complications would make me about as popular in Allied circles as the proverbial skunk at a bridge-party. So I took the final alternative, and jammed her into the teeth of it for all I thought she could stand without imitating an operahat or an accordion. And, glory be, she made it, the blessed little old cross between a porpoise and a safety-razor blade! Whether the gale really moderated, or I got more nerve, I don't know; but anyhow I gave her more and more, half a knot at a time, until we were actually making appreciable headway against it. I never thought any ship could stand the bludgeoning she got. It seemed as if every rivet must shear, every frame and stanchion crush, under the impact of the Juggernaut seas that hurtled into her. As a thoroughbred horse starts and trembles under the touch of the whip, so she reared and trembled, only to bury herself again in the roaring Niagara of water. Oh, you thoroughbred hightensile steel! blue-blooded aristocrat among metals; Bethlehem or Midvale may claim you, you are none the less worthy of the Milan casque, the Damascus blade, your forefathers! Verily, I believe you hold on by sheer nerve, when by all physical laws you should buckle or bend to the shock!
And so we kept on. Don't you know how in the stories it is always in a ter
rific gale that the caged lion or gorilla or python breaks loose and terrorizes the ship? We don't sport a menagerie on the but I did pick up the contents of the dry gun-cotton case, which had broken and spilt the torpedo detonators around on deck contiguous to the hot radiator! And, of course, the decks below were knee-deep in books, clothes, dishes, etc., complicated in some compartments by a foot or two of oil and water.
Well, the next day we made a little more, and the seas were only gigantic, not titanic. The oil was holding out better, too, as we struck a better grade in some of our tanks, and I saw that we had a fighting chance of making it. By night I felt almost confident we could, and I really slept some. Next day I expected to make land, but, of course, had little idea how far I might really be from my reckoning. Nevertheless, we sighted — Light about where I expected to, and laid a course from there into the harbor. It was a rather thick, foggy day, and pretty soon I noted a cunning little rock or two dead ahead, where they did n't by any means belong. So I rather hurriedly arrested further progress, took soundings, and bearings of different landmarks, and found that we were some twenty-five miles from our reckoning—so far, in fact, as to have picked up the next light-house instead of the one we thought.
After this 't was plain sailing, though I had never been into that port before. Made it about noon, took possession of a convenient mooring-buoy inside the breakwater, which buoy I found out later was sacred to the French flag-ship or somebody like that—called on our Admiral there, and was among friends. Yes, by heck, I let 'em buy me a drink at the club · - I needed it! Had oil enough left for just about an hour more!
BY CHARLES BERNARD NORDHOFF
HERE at Avord there are about seventy-five Americans of every imaginable sort sailors, prize-fighters, men of the Foreign Legion, and a good scattering of University men. As good a fellow as any is H-, formerly a chauffeur in San Francisco. He is pleasant, jolly, and hard-working, with an absurdly amiable weakness for 'crapshooting,' in which he indulges at all times, seconded by an American darky who is a pilot here- and a good one.
I can hear them as I write, snapping their fingers as the dice roll: 'Come on 'leben little seben, be good to me! Fifty days little Phoebe - fever in the South! Read 'em and weep! Ten francs - let 'er ride. I'll fade you!' The crap-shooting circle is always either stuffed with banknotes or reduced to a few sous which latter predicament is a bit serious here, where we have to pay eight to ten francs a day to get sufficient nourishing food.
We sleep in barracks, about twenty to the room, on cots with straw mattresses. All days are pretty much alike, At three A.M. a funny little Annamite Chinaman, with betel-blackened teeth, comes softly in and shakes you by the. shoulder in an absurdly deprecating way. You reach for your tin cup, and he pours out a quarter-litre of fearful but hot liquid, somewhat resembling coffee. Then a cigarette in bed, amid drowsy yawns and curses; a pulling on of breeches, golf-stockings, and leather coats; a picking up of helmets, and a sleepy march to the bureau, under the wind-gauges, barometers, and the
great red balls that show the passing side (right or left) for the day.
'Rassemblement! Formez-vous par quatre!' barks the adjutant, and off we go to the field. There till nine, or till the wind becomes too strong man taking his sortie of ten minutes as his name is called. Back about ten; then a lecture till eleven, a discussion after that, and the first meal of the day. Sleep afterwards till three or threethirty; then a bath, a shave, brush teeth, and clean up in general. At five, assembly again, the same march, the same lessons till nine; then a meal, a smoke, and to bed at eleven.
It has been a bit strenuous this past month, getting accustomed to this life, which is easy, but absurdly irregular. Up at three-thirty A.M., and never to bed before eleven P.M. Meals snatched wherever and whenever possible. Some sleep by day is indispensable, but difficult in a barrack-room with twenty other men, not all of whom are sleepy, This, together with fleas and even more unwelcome little nocturnal visitors, has made me rather irregular in my habits, but now I have got into a sort of régime-four and a half hours of sleep at night, some sleep every afternoon, and decent meals. Also I have discovered a sort of chrysanthemum powder, which, with one of the ‘anti' lotions, fairly ruins my small attackers. Baths, thank Heaven! I can get every day - with a sponge and soap. There is no real hardship about this life — it is simply a matter of readjusting one's self to new conditions and learning
where and what to eat, how to sleep, how to get laundry done, and so forth.
This school is superb. I shall have the honor of being one of the last men in the world trained on the famous Blériot monoplane obsolete as a military plane, but the best of all for training, because the most difficult. In spite of the fact that from the beginning to the end one is alone, it is said to be the safest of all training, because you practically learn to fly in the 'Penguins' before leaving the ground; and also because you can fall incredible distances without getting a bruise.
In practically all of the French planes the system of control is the same. You sit on cushions in a comfortable little chair — well strapped in, clothed in leathers and helmet. At your left hand are two little levers, one the mixture, the other the throttle. Your right controls the manche-à-balai, or cloche push forward causes the machine to point downward (pique) and a pull back makes it rise. Moving it sideways controls the ailerons, or warps the wings if you tip left, you move the cloche right. Your feet rest on a pivoted bar which controls the rudder.
To rise, you head into the wind, open the throttle (steering with great care, as a little carelessness here may mean a wrecked wing or a turn over), and press forward the cloche: you roll easily off; next moment, as the machine gathers speed, the tail rises, and you pull back the stick into the position of ligne de vol. Faster and faster you buzz along, thirty, thirty-five, forty miles an hour, - until you have flying speed. Then a slight backward pull on the cloche, and you are in the air. I made my first flight in a small twoplace machine of the fighting typea Nieuport. It is a new sensation, one which only a handful of Americans have experienced, — to take the air at
seventy-five or eighty miles an hour, in one of these little hornets. The handling of them is incredibly delicate, all the movements of the stick could be covered by a three-inch circle. A special training is required to pilot them, but once the knack is acquired they are superb, except for the necessity of landing at eighty or ninety miles an hour. In the air you can do anything with them - they will come out of any known evolution or position.
Lately I have been making short low flights in a Blériot, and enjoying it keenly. All I know (a mere beginning) I have learned entirely alone, and the first time I left the ground, I left it alone. They simply put you in the successive types of machines, with a brief word of instruction, and tell you to fly if you haven't the instinct, you are soon put out of the school. After your month of preparation in 'Penguins' and 'grass-cutters,' the first short flight is a great experience.
My name was at the end of the list, so for two hours of increasing tension I watched my mates make their débuts. We were about a dozen, and there were some bad crashes' before my turn came. At last the monitor called me and I was strapped in behind the whirling stick. The monitor waved his arm, the men holding the tail jumped away, and I opened the throttle wide, with the manche-à-balai pushed all the way forward. Up came the tail; I eased back the control bit by bit, until I had her in ligne de vol, tearing down the field at top speed. Now came the big moment, mentally rehearsed a hundred times. times. With a final gulp I gingerly pulled back the control, half an inch, an inch, an inch and a half. From a buoyant bounding rush the machine seemed to steady to a glide, swaying ever so little from side to side. A second later, the rushing green of grass seemed to cease, and I was horrified to
find myself looking down at the landscape from a vast height whence one could see distant fields and hangars as if on a map. A gentle push forward on the manche brought her to ligne de vol again; a little forward, a reduction of gas, a pull back at the last moment, and I had made my first landing - a beauty, without a bounce. To-night I may crash, but I have always the memory of my beginner's luck-landing faultlessly from fully twelve feet!
Lack of sleep is our main foe-a hard one to combat, as all sorts of other things develop as its followers; one has simply to learn to sleep in any odd moments of the day or night.
I may still 'fall down' and be 'radiated' to an observation or bombing plane (which is of course no disgrace); but on the whole I have good hopes of making a fighting pilot. Flying (on a Blériot monoplane) is by no means as easy as I had supposed. It took us four weeks to learn to run one at full speed, in a straight line, on the ground. The steering and handling of the elevators (which regulate height of tail) are extremely tricky, and many men are thrown out or sent to other schools (Caudron, Farman, or Voisin) for inaptitude or 'crashes' at this stage.
Then comes the stage of low straightaway flights, when you leave the ground fast and in correct line of flight, and have to land smoothly. Make no mistake landing any kind of an aeroplane is hard, and to land the fast fighting machines is a very great art, which forty per cent of picked young men never accquire. They are so heavy for their supporting area, that the moment they slow down below seventyfive or one hundred miles an hour they simply fall off on a wing (or 'pancake'). Even a Blériot requires a good eye and a steady delicate touch and judgment to land in decent style. You are flying, say, three hundred feet up, and wish to
land. Forward goes your stick, the machine noses down as you cut the motor. The ground comes rushing up at you until the moment comes when you think you should 'redress' — precisely as a plunging duck levels before settling among the decoys. If you have gauged it to a nicety, you skim over the ground a few yards up, gradually losing speed, and settling at last without a jar or break in the forward motion. If you redress too late, you turn over (capoter), or else bounce and fall off on a wing. (I have seen men bounce fifty feet!) If you redress too high, you lose speed too far above the ground, and either pique into the ground and turn over, fall flat, or crash on one wing.
The secret of the whole game of learning to fly is, I believe, never to get excited. I have seen beginner after beginner smash when he was first sent up to fly. They run along the ground, pull back the stick, as told, and a moment later are so astounded to find themselves twenty or thirty feet off the ground that they can think of nothing but shutting off the throttle. Many crash down tail first, with controls in climbing position to the last. If they would simply think,
'Ha, old boy, you're in the air at last last some thrill, but the main thing now is to stay here a bit and then ease down without a crash. Ease the stick forward forward- now we have stopped climbing. Feel that puff-she's tipping, but a little stick or rudder will stop that. Now pique her down, and reduce the gas a notch or two. Here comes the ground-straighten her out; too much, she's climbing again; there, cut the gas a little more there not a bad landing for the first try.'
Really there is no system in the world like learning alone, but it costs the government, I am told, from thirty to forty thousand dollars to turn out a fighting pilot. Three, six, ten
machines - beautiful, costly, delicate things are smashed daily in the school. Never a word is said, until a man smashes one too many, when he is quietly sent to the easier double-command school of bombardment or observation flying.
Some of the fellows are in bad shape nervously. Any night in our barracks you can see a man, sound asleep, sitting up in bed with hands on a set of imaginary controls, warding off puffs, doing spirals, landings, and the like. It is odd that it should take such a hold on their mental lives.
I enjoy hugely flying the old monoplane, especially when I fly home and nose her down almost straight for a gorgeous rush at the ground. As you straighten out, a few yards up, lightly as a seagull, and settle on the grass, it is a real thrill.
I have purchased, for twenty-five francs, a beautiful soft Russia-leather head-and-shoulder gear, lined with splendid silky fur. It covers everything but one's eyes, leaving a crack to - leaving a crack to breathe through, — and is wonderfully warm and comfortable.
I have finally finished the Monoplane School, which is the end of preliminary training. There remain spirals, etc., an altitude, and a few hundred miles of cross-country flying, before I can obtain my brevet militaire and have the glory of a pair of small gold wings, one on each side of my collar. After that I shall have seven days' leave (if I am lucky), followed by two or three weeks perfectionnement on the type of machine I shall fly at the front. If I smash nothing from now on, I shall have practically my choice of 'zincs' - a monoplane de chasse, or anything in the bombing or observation lines. If I break once, I lose my chasse machine, and so on, down to the most prosaic type of heavy bomber. Only one compensation in this very wise but
severe system - the worse the pilot, the safer the machine he finally flies.
In spite of all my hopes, I had the inevitable crash- and in the very last class of the school. Landing our Blériots is a rather delicate matter (especially to a beginner), and last week I had the relapse in landings which so few beginners escape, with the result that I crashed on my last flight of the morning. I felt pretty low about it, of course, but on the whole I was not sorry for the experience, which blew up a lot of false confidence and substituted therefor a new respect for my job and a renewed keenness to succeed. After that I did better than ever before, and made a more consistent type of landing.
Guynemer, the great French 'Ace,' has disappeared, and from accounts of the fight one fears that he is dead. What a loss to France and to the Allies! the end of a career of unparalleled romantic brilliancy. I shall never forget one evening in Paris last spring. I was sitting in the Café de la Paix, under the long awning that fronts the Boulevard des Capucines. All Paris was buzzing with Guynemer's mighty exploit of the day before - four German planes in one fight, two of them sent hurtling down in flames within sixty seconds. It took one back to the old days, and one foresaw that Guynemer would take his place with the legendary heroes of France, with Roland and Oliver, Archbishop Turpin, Saint Louis, and Charles Martel.
Presently I looked up. A man was standing in the aisle before mea slender youth, rather, dressed in the black and silver uniform of a captain in the French Aviation. Delicately built, of middle height, with dark tired eyes set in a pale face, he had the look of a haggard boy who had crowded the experience of a lifetime into a score of