Ground studies were going fairly well and there seemed no doubt that I had caught up with my lack of schooling and my results were well into the top half in the regular weekly tests but flying was another matter. I was getting thoroughly depressed. My compatriots were returning from flights and boasting of their exploits. Their turns were perfect, their recovery from spins were perfect but worst of all their rolls were also perfect. In a roll the aircraft is turned on to it's side, then on to it's back with the pilot hanging in his straps, continuing to rotate onto the other side and the rotation is continued bringing the aircraft back into level flight. This should bring a complete rotation on the axis of the line of flight. It was all too easy to lapse into a barrel roll in which the rotation is around but some distance from the line of flight. This is much more comfortable because the resultant extra 'G' forces one into the seat.
At last I decided to confide my fears to my instructor and was much relieved to find that my failing was to believe the boasting of my fellow pupils. My confidence was somewhat restored but judgement found lacking! Worse was to come. At PT the following morning it was plain that I had a temperature and a swollen throat. Off flying for that afternoon but it became worse and I was ordered to sickbay where I was to stay for over two weeks with tonsillitis, a badly infected throat etc: The question now was; how could I catch up with the others? More tests and Xrays. My lungs were OK but I was forced to convalesce with a low blood count. Anaemia! I couldn't believe it. I was far fitter and tougher than most but I was off flying!
I could hardly grasp it but was told in no uncertain manner that if I wanted to get my wings I had better do what I was told. A low blood count may well lower my threshold to blackouts etc: etc: so I would still be off flying. I had now been off for almost four weeks, they 'may' allow me to drop back onto the next course which was four weeks behind us.
It would mean leaving the friends who had been with me for so long and would certainly mean that I would lose the instructor with whom I had such a good rapport. It was plain that I had better get my head down and make the best of a bad job. My fun with toilet rolls followed me here but it was far harder and I never succeeded in cutting one more than twice. It was so much more difficult to find them with the superior speed and greater turning circle of the Harvard
The following is copied directly from a letter home at about this time:-
NB It was written over a period of some weeks.
Here the letter ends but at this distance in time there is nothing of importance to add.
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Edward Sparkes ©1998-2002