Armed Forces Staff College and Empire Test Pilots School

After VQ-1 I was ordered to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.  I came home on an American President Lines ship.  Not a good idea.  Shipboard life is fine if one is flying every day.  However, if one is only eating and drinking, then a ship is boring.

Armed Forces Staff College was a different experience from anything I had experienced in the past.  Our seminar was made up of Army, Navy, Air Force and government civilians.  There were no tests and no grades.  We attended lectures, visited nearby military sites and had parties.

While at the Staff College I received the best set of orders a person could receive.  I was ordered to the ETPS.  ETPS is located in Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, England.  It is near the city of Salisbury, Wiltshire and Stonehenge.  Salisbury is famous for the Salisbury Cathedral.  If you have never seen the cathedral, then I can only say that you must see it.

ETPS was wonderful.  I was able to fly every Royal Air Force plane in existence at the time.  From the Lightning or as some called it the Frightening a Mach 2 fighter to the Chipmunk a small two seat trainer.  On weekends, if one did not have enough flying during the week, we would gather and fly gliders.  I have struggled with a lot of endeavors in my life but glider flying came to me as totally second nature.  On my first flight, I was able to find lift and stay out the maximum of one hour.  Keep in mind that finding lift in summertime England is not easy.  No harsh sun heating the soil, no updrafts just a little lift here and there.  Our commanding officer was a Royal Navy captain.  He had flown off of Royal Navy aircraft carriers before World War II.

I can only say that I loved every moment of my stay in England.  The British people were just wonderful.  We had mess night once a month and the wine did flow.  I have kept in touch with two of my classmates, Kevin Doyle who was a pilot in the Australian Air Force and Francois Champion who was a pilot in the French Navy.