Weather is always a factor in flying. You don't just take off without first checking meteorology reports from operations. The Navy says those planes are too expensive to sacrifice to chance. "We can always get more cadets." They say the same thing about ships. Isn't it nice to be needed?
The sun can be brilliant without a cloud in the sky. Navy regulation are not left to a cadet's interpretation. If the cadet doesn't check with operations about weather he is in deep doo doo.
Just before we shipped to the air base, an unexpected hail storm came in. Evidently there was no warning. Some hail stones were as big as baseballs. There wasn't room in the hangers for four hundred plus aircraft. As a result, over two hundred planes were put out of commission. The Navy hired many civilians from Memphis and taught them the baseball stitching needed to sew the damaged fabric on the planes.
Each time I went up weather conditions painted a different picture to be admired. Billowy cumulus clouds from five to ten thousand feet might be the menu for the day. It was like a new land of ice and snow mountains with holes that gave access to other mountains above and below. It was truly beautiful. We would fly to the top of a mountain and sleigh ride to the bottom, then climb another mountain.
Another phenomenon was mist of various depths. As the plane left the ground it seemed to be flying inside a giant tomato can. No matter what direction you flew, you were always in the middle of that gray tomato can. Eventually the ground disappeared and now the can had a top and bottom. Some where around 2000 feet you would break out of the mist. The sun reflecting off the top of the mist cover was so brilliant it would blind you.
Looking ahead or up was the only way to bring the eyes back to normal.
One spring day meteorology reported a heavy fog moving in. The CO being a real hard ass said everyone up, fog or no fog. Two hundred yellow perils flown by green recruits were suddenly stranded a few thousand feet up with no idea what lay beneath them.
The CO decided they had two hours of gas left and the fog would dissipate by then.
Good luck old boy!
With a half hour to go, an experienced instructor went up, found them and herded them down in groups. We could have lost a lot of men and planes.
Once again Secretary Forestal paid a visit to Millington and the CO was replaced. Made you wonder if Memphis was the only base with replaceable COs.
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