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Still looking for blue skies during WW2

Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of guest columns recounting flight-training experiences during World War II.

Charles Eurey     Guest columnist
It seemed like it would never end.  We were still in Colorado and it seemed like the weather would never change.  The calender continued to move forward and we had to get our required hours of flying time in so that we could graduate in March.
The upper class, 44-B, had finished and graduated and we moved up to take their place.  We were on the hurry-up routine, twelve hours on the flight line each day, waiting and ready to fly any time we got a break in the weather.   We were all determined to finish our course and get those coveted  wings.
It had been a long hard journey from Classification in Santa Ana, then Primary Training at Tex Rankin Aeronautical School in Tulare, flying the little PT-17 open-cockpit planes with the wind blowing in our face and sometimes hanging upside down by our seat belts, and then getting dunked in    a tank of cold water, clothes and all, when we first soloed.
Then we had gone up the valley to Fresno, the raisin capitol, where we moved up to the BT15, a big metal plane with what seemed like a zillion instruments, but we learned them all and, in time, found that it was a joy to fly.
We then moved up  to the AT-17, which would normally have been flown at our next training stop, but  we were getting it early.   At the time we did not know the reason, but when we moved on to La Junta and Advanced Training, in the B-25 Mitchell we had our answer.
The B-25 was a combat plane and was used on the battlefront to bomb enemy installations and strafe ground troops and supply routes.  It was a good stable plane and when we later went overseas via Greenland we found it being used as a weather ship to fly out and check conditions on the route before releasing us to go.
I would have been happy to fly the B-25 after graduating, but at the time no one knew yet what the plans for us were when we finished our training.
For now all of us were struggling to get our hours so we could graduate and get our  wings and our commissions.  But we especially wanted  those “silver wings”.  Those wings would mean that we were certified pilots, and all the nitty gritty of training would be behind us. We could finally move on.
Of course none of us knew where we would move on to after graduation.  For sure we would be going overseas sometime down the road.
There was a massive build-up going on in the  European theater, and D-Day was still somewhere down the road. We would probably be headed in that direction.
So be it.  That’s just the way it was … in the good old days.
Charles Eurey is a Lincoln Times-News guest columnist.

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