Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 55 > Page 78 - Bill MacRitchie and Early Flight

Page 78 - Bill MacRitchie and Early Flight

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/8/1 (158 reads)

School pilot, from New Glasgow--he was our first instructor. Charlie really wasn't what you'd call a good instructor. You had to learn to fly more or less by yourself. And Charlie was the--you might say--the person that you might imagine for fellows that went to Paris and had a good time.... But he was our instructor. And it took quite awhile. Because every so often some? body 'd make a bad landing, and they'd have to repair it. And it was very difficult to repair things--they're very flimsy. Then we had to get an air engineer. Now, this is important. Because it was hard to get a man who had the qualifications, and the papers, to do the job. Because he had to sign the aircraft out. They still do that; still sign aircraft out. He was Joe Gould--he was from Buffalo, New York. Now, between Charlie and Joe, they were the op? erational end. Charlie taught the people, and Joe kept the airplanes flying. That was part of the--the worst thing was lack of flying equipment. It was unservice? able half the time. We'd have one aircraft, then we'd have none. And then maybe we'd have two. We'd go back to one again.... (So when did you yourself first start to learn to fly?) Well, as I was saying ear? lier, they got the flying club operational in June or July of 1929. And this is when I started. I was one of the first to start taking flying lessons at the school. Now, flying was very expensive. For one hour's dual instruction with Charlie Roy, was $15 an hour. And $15 an hour was a week's pay then.... And because the aircraft were so --they didn't have enough aircraft, real? ly, to operate properly--nobody would take a chance. The instructor wouldn't take a chance until the fellow put in about 12 hours, before he'd let him go solo. This is right in the middle of the Depression. And we were operating. (Joe) had a very, very difficult job. Be? cause, although the field was relatively smooth and everything, the aircraft were very fragile. And it didn't take too much to damage the undercarriage, or the tail wheel or tail skid, or the controls in the back end. And you'd have to watch con? stantly. Unfortunately, just when every? thing was going very well. Dr. Densmore-- who was a fine, fine man--landed the air? craft from about 12 feet up. So it put the struts and the landing gear up through the bottom wings, and so forth. So we were • • • ??''' • • '''??'''??' • • ??' grounded for a long time. 'Experience a New World of Shopping" A collection of Maritime handcrafts, Canadian pine, woolens, folk art, country clothing, gifts and accessories. Major Credit Cards Accepted A Cape Breton Country Store OPEN DAILY (902) 295-2868 Chebucto Street Baddeck Welcome to Baddeck! Open Fireplace Historic Comfortable Dhing Room Telegraph House A chanmng Victorian House, where Dr. Graham Bell chose to stay and royalty still chooses to dine, features rooms with period decor as well as modem motel units. Eiyoy home cooked meals in our licensed dining room, beside the warmth of open fires. Est. 1860 - Five Generations of the Dunlop Family Baddecl(, Nova Scotia BOE 1 BO Telephone (902) 295-9988 And the people were so--the flying people were so anxious to keep the thing going and learn to fly, that they'd do anything, just about, in order to keep operational. And even the instructor--sometimes he'd get paid and sometimes he wouldn't. And so would the air engineer. People would put them up. We'd get contributions to keep the thing.... It was (a) really difficult thing to keep going. However, eventually, a few of us started to learn, to get flying, to get solo-- which is, you know, flying by yourself. And Bricky Stevenson and I had a very strong competi? tion. But I was lucky enough, I got away first. December 23rd, 1929. I went solo. (Well, you have to tell me a lit? tle more about it. First of all, you had to learn how to fly a plane! Was most of that done on the ground or in the air?) Well, you have to have a ground school because there's more than just the flying in- W Catering 1 Services I for Any , Function Yellow Cello Cafe Bakery Pizza '' i' ' 295-2303 e''
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