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Father’s Narrow Escapes

September 10, 2012

My father recently told us about two incidents that took place while he was a flight instructor with the RCAF.  This was around 1941, when he was stationed at Dauphin, Manitoba.

In the first one, he told us that a Tiger Moth with a different engine had just arrived.  He wanted to try it out.  He went up with a student for a flight around the townsite.  Just as he dipped the wings to point out the house where he lived, a loud bang came from the engine, with a puff of black smoke.  He told the student to look for a gravel road where they could glide in for a landing.  They couldn’t land in a farmer’s field because of the heavy clay soil in that area.  The wheels would catch in the mud and the plane would flip over.

Then he noticed that the engine was still turning over and still had enough power to make it back to the airfield.  He told the student there was no need to find a gravel road.  They came in for a normal landing and taxied up to the hangar.  When he explained what had happened, the mechanic lifted the cowling over the engine.  There was a hole in the side of the engine block, with a connecting rod sticking out.  The mechanic checked the logbook for the plane.  The last entry was “No oil pressure”.  “Oops, I missed that”, said the mechanic.

The second one was about a Cessna Crane, a two-engine monoplane.  Dad wanted to practice power turns.  These are turns under full engine power.  He flew to an area reserved for power turns, and started into the first one.  Immediately, the whole plane started to shake.  He broke out of the turn and returned to the airfield.  On the ground, he discovered that the tip of one of the propeller blades was missing.  The previous pilot must have hit something and then not told anybody.  These planes had wooden propellors.  Once the end is broken, the blade begins to split and finally flies off.  The planes also don’t fly very well on one engine.

After those stories, my mother said “You never told us those ones before”.  My father just smiled.

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