Sunday, July 15, 2007

A/C Class 45-A

This is a brief history of three teenagers, Robert D. Peterson, Leo T. Parry and Glen F. Werner living in Salt Lake City, the Sugar House area (see Sugarhouse blog, who went into the Army Air Corps in 1943 to train to become pilots during WWII. Bob Peterson had a camera (I did not have one) and took most of the pictures in this blog. We left Salt Lake City 3Aug1943 on a Union Pacific Rail Road and were stationed at the following army bases:

8Aug1943 - Arrived Miami Beach, Florida - housed in the Patrician Hotel for basic training
2Sep1943 - Arrived Knoxville, Tennessee for College Training Detachment (CTD) at the U of Tenn.
20Feb1944 - Arrived Nashville, Tennessee for classification - classified for pilot training
3Mar1944 - Arrived Blytheville, Arkansas - pilot pool, waiting pilot training
22Apr1944 - Arrived Montgomery, Alabama - Maxwell Field for preflight training
28Jun1944 - Arrived Arcadia, Florida - Dorr Field for Primary Flight Training in the PT-17
11Sep1944 - Arrived Greenville, Mississippi - Greenville AAB for Basic Flight Training in the BT-13
31Dec1944 - Arrived Selma, Alabama - Craig Field AAB for Advanced Training in the AT-6
11Mar1945 - Bob graduated with wings as a 2nd Lieutenant and Glen as a Flight Officer
11Mar1945 - 1st leave
27Mar1945 - Arrived back at Craig Field assigned to pilot pool
8May1945 - V-E Day
2Jul1945 - Arrived Eglin Field, Florida for flight gunnery training in the AT-6
20Jul1945 - Arrived back at Craig Field
8Aug1945 - 2nd leave - War ended, V-J Day 15Aug1945, while on leave
22Aug1945 - Arrived back at Craig Field
13Oct1945 - Left Craig Field for Maxwell Field
15Oct1945 - Discharged from Army with Certificate of Service papers (Glen never has receive his final discharge papers)
25Oct1945 - Left Maxwell Field for home
29Oct1945 - Arrived home by-way-of New Orleans (Bob and Glen lost our civilian pilot licenses flying over Lake Ponchatrain) and Los Angeles, Calfornia

Bob at CTD at the U. of Tennessee. I think I took this picture of Bob, with has camera, because I did not own a camera (or anything else) in those days.
All of the following pictures, while in the army, were taken by Bob, except for the ones that I took of him. I copied most of these pictures from my old army photo album for this blog.

Knoxville Island Home-Downtown Aitport (2007) on the Tennessee River where we had 4 hour flight training in Taylorcrafts

Next - Pre-Flight Training at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, AL.
Then to Dorr Field, Arcadia, FL

Bob beside a PT-17

Leo in a PT-17

Glen in a PT-17

Boeing Sterman PT-17

Flight line at Dorr Field

Barracks at Dorr Field looking north

Barracks at Dorr Field looking South

Dorr Field was closed as an airport and the barracks
converted to a detention center.

Next - Basic Flight Training at Greenville Army Air Base,

Leo in a BT-13

Glen on wing of a BT-13

BT-13 at Greenville

Flight line at Greenville

Downtown Greenville, Mississippi from atop the Mississippi River levy

Greenville Army air Base 1945

Greenville, Mississippi Municipal Airport today

Next - Craig Field, Selma, AL and graduation from the
Army Air Corps with our wings

2nd Lt. Bob Peterson, age 21, and F/O Glen Werner, age 19, graduation at Craig Field, Selma, Alabama. (I wondered why I did not also graduate as a 2nd Lt. Maybe the fact that I was only 19 and did not even have a high school diploma had something to do with it.)

Bob Under AT-6

Glen with AT-6

     On Feb. 16th, 2015, I saw the movie, Selma, which brought back so many memories since I had been stationed at Craig Field, just 5 miles from Selma, for about 10 months. The only thing I recognized in the entire film was the Edmond Pettus Bridge which I have flown over, ridden over and driven over many times. 
      A night cross-country flight from Craig Field, during my stay, is so memorable. Before each flight we always did a preflight inspection of the airplane, a walk around the airplane to check for any irregularities, and to check the fuel supply (55 gallons in each wing tank) by climbing upon each wing and removing the gas tank caps and checking for gas with our finger, because we were told the gas gauges were not too accurate. As a result of that I didn’t usually check the fuel gauges until well into the flight. I took off, about 2 a.m. in the morning, on my second cross-country flight of the night. Since I was flying the same airplane I guess I thought I didn’t need to do the preflight inspection again but I, erroneously, included not checking the gas tanks in that bad decision. I took off from Craig Field, assuming my gas tanks were full, and flew about 40 miles east to Montgomery, then about 55 miles north to Birmingham, then turned west toward Tuscaloosa about 90 away. About 10 miles out of Birmingham, I guess I thought it was time to check my fuel gauges, but this time I should not have waited till well into the flight. I was shocked to see the tank that I was flying on showed only ¼ full and the other tank showed E (empty). To conserve gas, I eased the fuel mixture control back so that I could just barley see the exhaust flame from the engine and switched to the tank showing E and to wait for the engine to sputter, and then would change back to the tank showing ¼ full, hoping to make it to Tuscaloosa where I could land and pick up some gas. I was able to get to Tuscaloosa without changing tanks. I turned south toward Craig Field which was about 70 miles away and continued to wait for the engine to sputter. About 20 miles out of Tuscaloosa, the engine finally sputtered and I, then, changed to the ¼ full tank and figured I had enough gas to make the remaining 50 miles back to Craig. I remember being so relieved and pulling out and eating the sandwich they had given to me for the flight. Thinking back, I was only a 19 year old kid at that time. Wow, I guess we did receive good training! On the other hand, if the ¼ full gas tank had also been in error, but opposite of the tank that showed empty, things would have turned out differently. Out of embarrassment, I don’t remember ever telling anyone at the field about that flight, except maybe Bob Peterson.
     It got me thinking about Bob Peterson (1923-2011), who was one of the best friends I have ever had. I was looking at obituaries on the internet, sometime in 2012, and was surprised to run into his name. In reading his obituary I learned, for the first time, that he was about 2 years older than I. In 1943, a bunch of us “Voluntary Inductee” WWII draftees left Salt Lake from the Union Pacific Depot headed for Miami Beach, Florida for Army Air Corps Basic Training. (About a year earlier, Calvin Whitehead, a friend I grew up with on 600 East in Sugar House, also went into the Army Air Corps, but he went to Kearns Army Airbase for his basic training. He ended up flying B-17’s over Germany.) I think the first time I met Bob was when we both were assigned to the same room in the Patrician Hotel, in Miami Beach. Throughout our training, I always thought Bob was more mature and a better pilot than I. After we got our wings we flew several flights together - some in the same aircraft and some in separate planes flying in formation. Twice we flew cross-countries in separate planes, one to Jackson, Mississippi, in which we landed in a thunder storm, and another to Memphis, Tennessee, where we landed at naval air base. We stayed two or three days in both places. After the war, I used to visit Bob at Woolworth’s in Sugar House where he worked as assistant manager. On one visit I asked him to introduce me to one of the store clerks, Elva Larsen. About three months later she became my wonderful wife. 

Bob Trained in the Curtis P-40

Bob and Glen in Piper Cubs over New Orleans

Bob owned a Globe Swift after the war and flew C-47’s in the Air Force Reserves as a 1st Lieutenant

Glen joined a flying club, named the Commercial Flyers Flying Club located at the Salt Lake City Airport, in 1946. The club owned a two place Cessna 120 which the members could fly for less than $4.00 an hour including gas.

In the late 1950, after attending Northrup Aeronautical Engineering School in California, Glen joined another flying club located at the old Alta Airport in Sandy. The runway was located on top of a rise a little south of 8600 South Street and just about where Ida Lane is today. The hanger was located just a little south of where my daughter, Leslie, now resides. The club owned a two place Ercoupe.


Kate said...

Wow, you were flying at a young age. This is an great snapshot of your experiences.

Ryan Moat said...

Absolutely wonderful! It reminds me of my love of airplanes growing up in a small Utah town with little one man airplanes at our local municipal airport in Duchesne. Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories.