Through my interest in researching my family’s history and due to Mum moving house on her recent marriage, I’ve become the custodian of boxes of memorabilia.
It’s mainly photographs, letters and other documents, all fascinating to me. The selection most recently passed on, and which I’ve only just started sorting through, includes poems , limericks and stories written by my Dad, Ian Rowarth. Dad loved literature, had a Goon-like sense of humour and a strong Christian faith. As a young man he served in the RAF in World War 2 and never lost his interest in aeroplanes, often running outside to identify what was overhead. Later on he went some way towards achieving his pilot’s licence.
With Mum’s permission I’m publishing this untitled story here for your enjoyment.
Well, I enjoyed that trip. It’s lovely morning except for the haze, damn it. A good thing I recognised that village, or else I should have been lost. Of course there’s always the radio to fall back on and a good job too, or I should have gone for a burton before now. How did in the last war fighters get on I wonder – but they were fair weather flyers. They probably went down to read the signposts anyway.
Look at that cloud What a beautiful golden billowy edge , what wonderful pastel shades of grey and yellow. I’d like to go and fly round it and admire it and play with it , dive in and out of it, cut little bits off it with my prop, but I want a silver kite to do that with, not a drab thing like this. I would dirty it with this kite, and besides, my guns might frighten it.
Wake yourself up man, you’ve got to land. Pity, I don’t want to land just yet today, it’s such a lovely morning. Oh, yes, permission to land. Radio again, you see. Can’t do without it. Must I go down? It’s good to be alive up here, but when I get on the deck things will be dull and ordinary. Now for landing. Where’s the runway? Curse this haze. Altitude, air speed. Right. Throttle back. Goodbye sky, I’ll be seeing you, and I hope you’ll still be feeling happy next time. Wheels and flaps down. So long, sky. Runway here I come. Altitude, air speed. Put the hood back, God, I nearly forgot. Just in case I prang, and why should I prang on a day like this? No crosswind and I know my kite.
Hey, what’s the red Very * for? There’s no obstruction on the runway. Well, I’d better open up. What’s it for though? Wheels and flaps up. Good God, I’ve only got one wheel down. I didn’t notice that , which comes of thinking about clouds. Now what am I going to do? I’ll try to put the wheels down again, and I hope they both go. Go down, wheel, go down, go down, Won’t you go down? No.
Now I’m properly in the mire. What shall I do? What can I do? I’d better put the wheel up and fly round and think about it. Oh hell, I haven’t put the props up yet. There, go up, blast you. Bloody good job something works anyway. Come on, wakey wakey or else you won’t get down all in one piece. What am I going to do? Shall I bale out? It’s the easiest way out, isn’t it? Or shall I land , and if so, how, with no wheels or one wheel? If I bale out I shall save myself but the kite will go down and I don’t know where it will land. Might hit a house and kill a lot of people, but if I land it at worst it will only kill one. But that one isn’t just ‘one’ to me, and I don’t want to die. Must I die anyway? If I land on the one wheel I can balance till I’m quite low and then I’ll tip over onto the wing , and if I do it on the grass it shouldn’t be so bad. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll land, right on the edge of the runway so that the wing will drop on the grass, or mud, which would be even better. What if I boob though? Suppose I bounce and get unsteady? I’ve had it then. I would be bashed into pieces, maybe burnt and killed. While I keep flying I am alright. My body is perfect, every muscle works properly. I am fit; able to run, jump, swim and do anything, but what shall I be like in a few minutes time? A nasty mess of blood, torn muscles and broken bones? Why should this happen to me on a lovely day like this. Eileen will be out with the kid, shopping. She doesn’t know anything about it. She mustn’t know; I must get down safely. I must, I must for her. I will do it.
Now for a careful straight approach. Right, I put the wheel down. O.K. Now straighten out and throttle back. Flaps. Watch airspeed and height. Keep yourself calm now. Here comes the runway. Give her a little rudder to get over to the edge. Careful, now. I’m down. Now hold her down. Gently, gently. Now hold tight. Here we go.
God, when will it stop scraping? Ah, the engine is still going even. I’m not hurt at all. Hell, what a relief. But I must get out in case the kite takes fire. Switch off everything. Oh, lovely earth, it’s good to feel you.
I didn’t make such a bad job of it after all, did I?
Not to be reproduced without permission.