The Thirteen Club

"Back when World War II had not yet begun, I used to spend some of my Sunday mornings visiting the local airport at Baginton near Coventry. Sometimes I would go with my friend Doug Phillips, and sometimes I would go alone. Sitting on the grass at the edge of the field, I A Tiger-Moth Trainer Biplane Taking offwould watch the local flying club doing its stuff. There would always be takeoffs and landings to see, and sometimes there would be air-shows with all sorts of breathtaking maneuvers going on right above the airfield. I got to know some of the pilots and instructors and was able to see how students progressed as the weeks went by. In the first few hours of their training, before they had learned to advance the throttle smoothly, takeoffs tended to be erratic and, on landing, the little Tiger-Moth biplanes would bounce a few times before settling down on the grass. Now and again they would bounce along like performing porpoises and the instructor would have to intervene to rescue the landing.

"As weeks went by and skill and confidence developed, the same student was able to take off and land more smoothly. The sudden power bursts on takeoff were replaced by smoothly controlled surges to steady crescendos, and on landing, the point at which the aircraft would touch down became more and more predictable. It was an absorbing way to spend a couple of hours now and then, and I promised myself that some day I would be one of those pilots. I would be flying instead of watching."