The Earl E. Myers Story
Chapter 10 Advanced Flight Training
|Now on to Advanced Flight Training at Moody Army Air Base, Valdosta, Ga. better known as "Mother Moody's Rest Camp". We found out the first hour that it was not a rest camp. They had us double timing from the time we got off the train until Taps. To and from each classroom and formation we double timed. Then at P.T. we ran our petuties off with other strenuous calisthenics.
Now to flying training in the Twin Engine Beach, the AT-11, known as the "Bamboo Bomber". It was still bigger than the BT-13 and a new challenge. Our assigned instructor’s name was First Lt. Nelson T. Ball. He was of medium build and had a very good personality. The usual transition was started, but in a twin engine aircraft. Everything was different. After the initial training to solo, Instrument training started. I was under the hood for the first time in a twin engine and off we went. I had completed all the required procedures that were on the schedule and Lt.. Ball said, Lets do aerobatics. You fly instruments better than I do. My reply was, Please Sir. Lets continue to do instruments as I want the practice".
|We progressed down the line and completed the required training. At Moody it was the first time I was ever in an airplane at max speed and lower than telephone poles with Lt. Ball. We mowed one farmers wheat field I'm sure. Half way through advanced several Cadets were selected to complete advanced in B-25s. I was one of them, WOW, me in a B-25?
Photo Ctsy. Earl Myers
|It was a first in experimenting with low time students in a high performance aircraft. Talk about “High on a HOG,” It was the biggest HOG I'd ever seen and I was riding it without a saddle. Since I had been employed at the North American Plant In Kansas City, Kansas, helping to build the B-25, it was really an accomplishment and a thrill.
On Nov. 9, 1944, The Wing Commander called me into his office. "Oh Oh," I thought, this is it, I am to be washed out for some unknown reason?. The Commander, Col. Bobzine informed me that my Grandmother was near death. he also told me that they had a B-25 going to Kansas City Friday afternoon and would drop me off and pick me up on Monday Morning. I packed my shaving kit and a pair of shorts, a clean shirt and off we went. I almost dropped my shorts when the IP said, “OK in the left seat for you”. He had me draw up the maps and file the flight plan with him. There were two other commissioned pilot officers on board, also.
My Kid Brother, Uncle Harold, Grandfather, Sister and Aunt came to Fairfax Field and were there on our arrival. We pulled up in front of Base Ops and parked and they were there, waiting. My Instructor said, "Open the window and wave to them. I did and I almost pottied in my pants. It was the event of my life at that time for sure. My Granddad had called Mr. Tex Lagrone who got my feet wet in aviation, plus Mr. Bill Miller, who I had worked for before, both of them at Kock Refrigeration and North American Aviation. They all were just as proud as I was, almost.
My Grandmother was terminal and I spent about 20 hours a day with her for the short time I was to be there. She was coherent and knowledgeable. The B-25 was right on schedule and the instructor put me in the left seat again and off we went. What a thrill again for my family to see me take off and climb out disappearing into the clouds. The return flight was routine except it was undercast the entire route. It was my responsibility to follow the beam back to Mother Moody's Rest Camp. Listening to “As” and “Ns” and for the fading or gaining volume of the station gave me a lot of enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment.
Now it was graduation time. None of us knew if we would be Flight Officers or 2nd Lieutenants on graduation. We all had been measured for our uniforms about a month before graduation and the uniforms were the same, only the rank on the shoulders were different. We found out that we dressed right or left during the measuring session. It either hangs to the right or left in your pants. The ladies would be calling out all the different measurements to recording ladies, about 10 of us at a time. The majority dressed left. Occasionally one would be dress right. They all chuckled. It was so loud I don't see how each one could call out and be understood by the correct person recording the measurements.
Graduation Time, 20 November, 1945 : Col. Bobzine the Wing Commander would pin on the rank that was called out for the individuals, the 2nd Lts. first and then the Flight Officer's. WOW! I was on the 2nd Lt. list. On leaving the ceremony I put on my Bancroft Flight Cap that I had slept on and had in the shower several time and it had the 50 mission look of the ones the Air Corp Pilots at North American wore, where I had worked, and those worn by my flight instructors. "HOG HIGH" again.
The graduation party that evening was in a 2nd story building in down town Valdosta. Lt. Ball had an Austin automobile. About 6 of us went to the street and picked his car up and put it on the landing half way up. He was a good sport about it and we got it down for him. Now off to Sebring, Fl. for B-17 Aircraft Commander Training. I don't mean to blow my horn, but there were only 3 of us out of a class of about 200 who were assigned to B-17 Aircraft Commander school at Sebring, Fl. The rest went to copilot B-24s or were retained as flight instructor's. I was really high on the hog again. One of the three, who went to Sebring, was a L/Gen’s son and the other had a master's degree in math. He also was my roommate and helped me through some very difficult time's in ground school. I have a copy of the Air Corps orders to prove it.
End Chapter 10 Go to Chapter 11