“NOT An Aviation Midshipman” *
Harry Carlson was one of the very few "kaydets" who matriculated Navy Flight Training in the late 40's with the "Good Guys" (read: Aviation Midshipmen) and claims to be a "lost soul" with no 'group of his own as do the FLYING MIDSHIPMEN. He has been donating money to the FMA Treasury to be able to receive the LOG and keep up with his flying buddies. Here is a tale he sent to "JOCK":
In 1953, I was an instrument instructor at NAS Corry Field. We were not only instructing in basic instruments but radio range work, night flying, night crosscountry and safe-for-solo X-outs. On the flight when this incident occurred, I had an British student in the front seat for his first look at night flying. In those days, the routine was that the first group off climbed to the upper pattern - 1500 feet, as I recall, and circled until the lower pattern at 500 feet completed the required touch-and-go landings. Any late planes assigned to the upper pattern but who took off late with the lower pattern, climbed on up and joined the 1500 foot pattern creating a potentially dangerous situation.
Let me back up a few months at this point. -In August of 1953, I was admitted, to the Naval hospital with an eye problem which required that I became an inpatient for a number of days for treatment and observation. While I was there, a midair collision occurred one night in the upper pattern over the hospital. Both aircraft came down on the hospital grounds … no survivors.
Back to the tale. While we circled in the upper pattern, probably as a result of the described crash, I had developed a routine which I followed during night flights, that being to continuously scan •• Left and Right, Left and Right. We had completed possibly one circuit of the pattern when after a Left and Right scan, what doth appear but the exhaust flame of another Jay-Bird; right wing up exactly at our altitude. PANIC TIME! I instinctively hit the stick forward and the interloper went right overhead. My student evidently saw the plane a fraction of a second after I did and responded: "I say, that was close." So much for understatements! Thankfully, the rest of the flight was uneventful and my student got an "UP". Never did find out who the culprit was in the other plane. Probably never knew what a close encounter we had.
* Flying Midshipman LOG, winter 2002; © 2002.