I was still a Midshipman sent to VR-1 at PAX RIVER and further transferred with other AVMIDN to the VR-1 DET at Norfolk--to get rid of us, I guess. I hopped a ride on the shuttle back to PAX to drive my '46 Ford down to Norfolk. The plane commander was an old 'Mustang' who had the habit of preflighting R4D controls with that ‘squishy’ auto-pilot on. Anyway, after take-off, I was sitting back aft eating my box lunch when I glanced out the left side and saw the red batten still on the aileron. I could not believe my eyes; I eased up to the flight deck and reported the 'news'. Well, of course, they didn't believe me, but there commenced a lot of "testing" of the flight controls; and each on of the crew, including the plane commander, one at a tine, sauntered back aft to sneak a peek. Sure enough, there it was! W ell, we made a big Wide turn back to NAS Norfolk and landed 'pretty good.' We taxied up to base ops and the grand crew had those battens off in record tine! Back off we went. I thought that would be the end for that plane commander, but no, it was like it never happened--there was nothing ever said about it. However, I later flew a lot with that same plane commander and he never ever checked the controls with the auto-pilot on again!