I am now beginning to like flying

jim winter

Dear Mother and Dad,

I passed my 20 hour check-and I only had 17 hours and 3 minutes previous to the flight. My instructor just about scared me to death when he told me I was going up for the Army check ride. You see, most of the fellows, unless they’ve had some flying experience before, don’t go out for their check until they have anywhere from 20 hours to 28 hours. All I can say is my instructor must have a lot of confidence in me. I hope I continue my good work. When I’m up there all alone-flying that $18,000 ship-I realize what a responsibility Uncle Sam has given me. I am now beginning to like flying-I can’t really say I was too crazy about it before because I worry so much. I have much more confidence in myself now-my instructor said I was the best student he has had so far. I just about dropped over-don’t think I’m bragging because those wings aren’t on my tunic yet, until they are anything can happen. The Army Lieut. that gave me my check ride is really a swell fellow. I was scared to death naturally but, as soon as he talked to me, I felt at ease. I thought it went lousy but he seemed to think I did alright especially when he found out I had only 17 hours and three minutes (total time) to my credit.

I received a letter from Dad and two from you, Mother, I’m trying so hard to keep up my correspondence but, it’s quite a job with the amount of free time we have. I don’t think Bob would write Auntie all the time he was away if he were in the Air Corps.

Well, darling, I must cut it short now.

Love Jim

So they are going to cut off the fuel oil now


Dear Mother, Dad and Jocie

Four of your letters came yesterday-they were wonderful darlings. Say, Mother, don’t think I have washed out, because I haven’t (knock on wood) but, I wanted to impress upon you that washing out is not an uncommon occurrence here. If I ever did wash I could try bombardier. I have written to a friend of mine who selected bombardier instead of pilot. He likes it very much and is very happy he made the choice. I think this Air Corps is alright-you have a pretty good chance of getting your commission-that’s what I want.

Now that football season has come again, we  cadets, are following the games, especially Minnesota. They certainly gave Pittsburgh a licking today. It will be fun to argue with the boys from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. I hope Minnesota goes through undefeated.

So they are going to cut off the fuel oil now, gosh! It’s not so good is it. Also that darn gas rationing. Dad will probably have enough rationed to him so he can carry on with his business.

I’m flying away from the field now-gosh! It seems swell to have the feeling that you and you alone make the plane stay up there. We are flying many more hours now a day. Quite a few haven’t soloed yet-they feel pretty bad about it but, soloing doesn’t mean so much. Some guys in the upper class didn’t solo for 17 hours and made it all the way through. While some solo before eight hours and wash. Flying game isn’t very certain. Well darlings, thank you for your lovely letters-

Love, Jim

we have been working so hard lately I’m utterly exhausted


Dear mother and dad,

Your letter was swell, darling. Gosh! I wish I were home-we have been working so hard lately I’m utterly exhausted. At least 20% of our group washed already. None of us are safe-I hate to see my good friends leave me. Don’t be too surprised if I go too-I’m trying my best but, so were those guys-if I didn’t worry so much it wouldn’t be so bad-it’s easy to say don’t worry but, you know me. I don’t worry about my own safety so much-it’s washing out-and what you will think if I do.

Your picture was swell mother, darling, I wish I could have one of our talks again-remember? Gee-I miss home-there’s no time for homesickness now. I just want to get over there and help win this war. If I can’t be a pilot-at least I can do my part. I sometimes wonder if they really want pilots the way they’re washing out our class. I guess they know what they are doing or Uncle Sam wouldn’t hire them.

I just received the fudge Auntie sent me-it was really delicious-thank her for me will you darling-I have all I can do to write one letter a day-that’s the truth-you can’t imagine what a rushed life we lead. Tell Auntie she’s still my ”Fair Lady” – you are my darling parents-I am realizing how much you gave up for me now. You are darlings-give little Jocie my love-she’s so cute. Gosh! I have tears in my eyes.

Love Jim

One kid had a bad accident-completely ruined the plane


Dear Mother, Dad and Jocie-

I went out solo again today-it’s much more fun out there alone. Four more fellows washed out today. The funniest part is-they were all Jews. I heard from my instructor that the Army doesn’t let many Jews through-I don’t know why but it seems that it’s true. There were six Jewish fellows in our class at the beginning. Two of them quit out right-after the first day and all of the others have washed since. I guess they are scared or something. If everything goes okay I will be flying away from the home field in a few days. We will probably fly 3 hours a day then-all we do in those three hours is practice and more practice. Then when we have 20 hours to our credit-the army pilots check us. The 20 hour check washes out more pilots than any other. I hope I can make it.

So Jocie likes school-that’s good she certainly is a good little student just like her brother-Ahem!

I suppose Dad’s in full swing now or is his fall season nearly done? Poor Dad certainly works hard-I hope his stomach is working okay now. If worrying has anything to do with ulcer-I should have them now.

I bet Minneapolis looks beautiful now-I can’t imagine I have been away from home nearly 4 months. I certainly would like to see the neighborhood once again. I had better quit thinking about home or I’ll hop in a plane and try to make it home. One kid had a bad accident-completely ruined the plane but luckily came out of it unscathed. These ships are very tricky-we must be on our toes at all times.

Well darlings, I have taken Dad’s advice and say a prayer before going up each day. I never go up without your pictures in my flight jacket. It just makes me feel confident.


Love, Jim

I Soloed


Dear Mother and Dad,

I soloed-yes sir I took it up all alone-gosh! What a feeling- My legs were really shaking for a while but after my first takeoff and landing I went O.K. -my instructor took pictures (movie camera) of my landings and takeoffs. He was so darn happy-by the way I was the first in my instructors group to solo. I was lucky-my landings were perfect-my instructor even congratulated me. He has never said a kind word before. Soloing doesn’t mean I’ll make this flying game-but it is a step toward the goal. Gosh! When you’re up there-way above everything-I found some thoughts run through your mind. The motor, in reality, sounds the same but, you imagine something’s wrong. They stress, here at Rankin-more than anything-looking around at all times-we must clear ourselves from other planes before every maneuver-even the simplest turns. Rankin is very strict but has very few accidents because of their thorough teaching of precautions in the air. I hope I continue my good work-I realize I have just started the flying game. It is very fascinating way up in the atmosphere.

I had plans to send a telegram but I just haven’t any money. We haven’t been paid since we left Santa Ana. I suppose I could’ve borrowed some but I don’t like to get in debt to anyone. I hope you don’t think I am stingy.

Well darlings, be careful-take care of yourselves-don’t worry about me. I’m a man now-

Love Jim

Two of my friends have washed


Dear Mother, Dad and Jocie.

Haven’t had much time to write lately but I have a little time now waiting to go up. I hate to write in pencil but it’s all I have. To tell the truth I don’t know if I’m crazy about flying or not. Our instructor has been so irritable lately it is hard to concentrate. I feel sorry for him in a way. I think he is worrying about his physical. The instructor must pass a stiff exam too. I have heard he has been having trouble with his heart. That’s probably why he has been so angry with us lately. I hope he makes it-he was such a nice guy before.

Oh! Well. I’ll try my best-that’s all I can do.

These pictures of Jocie are excellent-I can’t get over how pretty my little sister is. All of my friends asked me how old she was. They’ll want to meet Jocie after the war. I told him I’m pretty fussy who my little sister goes out with. I was just kidding though-they’re a nice group of boys. You can tell they are from nice families.

How is your hay fever, mother? I hope it freezes soon. I hate to think of my dear mother feeling so darn rotten.

Do you really miss me a little, mother? I should think the house would be quite peaceful now. I give anything to have a furlough-gosh! I’d love to see all my darlings once again.

There are only three of us left in our group now. Two of my friends have washed. Each instructor has a group. If the other instructors wash their men out as mine does-Uncle Sam won’t get many pilots. I have been thinking lately-what good does it do to worry-this Air Corps is all worry. My worries started at Minneapolis when I took my physical-and I hear they continue all the way through. I sometimes wish I had taken Bombardiering-the fellows say it is much easier and less worry.

Oh well, I’m trying my best-that’s all I can do. I haven’t had any letters from anyone lately-the mail system is lousy here. I’ll probably get them all at once. I have tried to write as often as possible but some days-I just can’t find time.

Well, darlings, think of me.

Love Jim

I’m a nervous wreck


Dear Mother & Dad,

I’m writing from the flight line now-waiting to go up. I think I go up last today. By that time I’m a nervous wreck. (This table is very rough, so writing isn’t so hot) we are shooting landings now. You should see me bounce. I’m the only one in our group that hasn’t had a pink slip yet (knock on wood) so I guess I’m average anyway.

I received a letter from you, Thelma, Bobby Collard, and Ed Schneider today. Haven’t had time to open them yet. It really makes me feel swell when I get so many letters. I have been trying to answer everyone-it really is quite a job.

I don’t think I’ve told you the names of the fellows in my group. Jack Holker, Harry Hill, John Grahm, and Fred Frederick. Our instructor’s name is Helflinger M. E.-he isn’t much of a physical specimen-but, he can fly like a bird. He told me if I keep up the work I may solo soon.

Before they let you go up for a solo the instructor usually says, “Let’s see how you fly without the added weight!” I think I’ll follow him right out of that cockpit. Oh, well, I just hope and pray I make this darn thing-six of my friends have washed out already. It gets tougher day by day.

How is the ragweed affecting you darling, you should have stayed up North for a few more days. Well, my darlings up I go next period-Hope I have a good day. Work hard in school Jocie and tell me your marks-if you get good marks-I’ll send you a little something.



Everybody gets a pink slip before their training is finished


Dear Mother,

Your pictures of Dad and Jocie were excellent. I think everyone in camp knows what my dad and kid sister look like. You must excuse the pencil mother because I’m writing this from the flight line. I just got down a few minutes ago-I didn’t have such a hot day today. Of course that’s to be expected I guess. You can’t have a good day every day. Another fellow in my bunch got a pink slip today-everyone has had a pink slip except me so far. Maybe he feels sorry for me because I am so young. Everybody gets a pink slip before their training is finished-unless they’re H. P.’s (hot pilot). You can start worrying when you get three in a row. Then you’re due for an army check ride. I’d worry myself sick if I had to go on a check ride. I always worried myself sick for nothing. My instructor gets a big kick out of me I guess. He says I consciously bite my tongue when I’m going through maneuvers. Remember when I did that, mother? I had a bad headache for a couple of days. I guess something had stopped my sinus passages. The flight surgeon gave me some drops-which cleared it up right away.

I have 7 hours and 30 minutes now. I’m mighty far away from soloing though. I guess the average cadet solos in about 12 hours. I hope I’m average.

I sent a letter to Two Harbors the other day but you have probably left Edison’s by now. Why don’t you stay up there for the entire hay fever season. Jocie could stay with Christianson’s couldn’t she?

Well, darlings, take care of yourselves and don’t worry about me.

Love Jim

Yesterday the motor conked (quit).

Letter start


Well, I stayed in this week no money-I wonder if they’ll ever pay us. Oh, well, I have some time to write and study my navigation problems.

I have nearly 6 hours now. I’m beginning to feel like one of the boys now. My instructor is attempting to teach me landings. I sometimes wonder if I will ever learn anything. So far he hasn’t given me a pink slip (three pink slips on consecutive days means an elimination ride) one of the A/C’s in our group has received two pinks in a row. He’s worried to death-poor guy. There are so many things to watch up in the air. The wings must be level, altimeter at 500 feet, not 503. Or any altitude he designates.

If your nose climbs a little steep you can expect a scream from the front cockpit. Your head must be moving constantly. Watching for the planes. The instructor has a rearview mirror-placed on the wing so he can see every move you make. Sometimes I get so angry at my mistakes-I cussed myself for making such crazy mistakes. I’m trying my darndest to fly that ship and not let that ship fly me. If you get behind up there then you’re done. I never realized there was so much to learn about flying.

Yesterday the motor conked (quit). My instructor yelled “give me those controls.” I thought he had turned the motor off himself. He had a field picked out in a minute. We made a good landing considering the field was very rough. I didn’t get scared until everything was over. My instructor said that was the first time the motor had conked since he had been stationed at Rankin. Maybe I’m a jinx-

Love Jim

When you dive for old mother Earth at 200 mph-it really thrills you


Dear Mother-

Your letters were lovely, darling. All my friends admired your writing-I’m very proud of my mother, you know. So happy to hear the North woods agrees with you. I always thought those shots were a lot of bunk.

It was swell, inviting Thelma up for the weekend. She’s been so nice to me mother. She writes every day and always has something nice to say about Jocie and you, darling. Thelma sent a beautiful pair of sunglasses to me-they are very good ones-she’s really swell.

Yesterday I flew very well-I even received a compliment from my instructor-which is very seldom.

He is teaching me spins-gosh! They are fun. When you dive for old mother Earth at 200 mph-it really thrills you. Three of my pals washed out already-they are taking it pretty tough. I feel so sorry for them. I think it’s best to acquire an attitude “Well, it’s for my own good.”

If you can’t fly-you can’t-I don’t care if it’s all American fullback-they wash out just as easily as the little puny fellow.

I can’t realize, it’s fall already, but time flies so fast for us because we are always on the go. I would love to have a two-week furlough so I could come home to you.

I’ll bet Dad would like my uniform wouldn’t he. Dad’s really a good egg-I’m so lucky-I have parents that I can really be proud of-say, by the way, one of my roommates hails from Denver-he said that he has been to Leadville a number of times. He claims it’s still a wild little town. If you come out to see me, you could stop in Leadville. Well mother, don’t hurt yourself chopping wood, I want you all in one piece.

Love Jim.

I haven’t too much time to write these letters so you’ll have to bear the poor writing.