Posts Tagged With: Flight

My Dream Flight

Last night I had the strangest dream.  (Couldn’t help but sing the tune in my head while I wrote that line)  I know that I have always cherished the times when Mom visited me in my dreams – there have only been three times that I remember but each one was so powerful it left me reeling for days.  I was always so impatient that she come – her first appearance wasn’t until four months after she passed away.  I was on holidays with my family. 

Dad’s first appearance was last night – but it left almost no impression on me.  

There I was with Mom and Dad – both of them had been declared palliative.  (true)

Mom was upset, she said to me in tears, “I never did see France.  I always wanted to go to France.  Let’s go.”

She appeared to be so anxious to get to France with Dad and myself that I could do nothing other than try to make arrangements.  Here’s where fact blends with fiction – those dreams do pretty good jobs of blurring lines of reality.  I knew I could count on Veteran’s Affairs Canada to help – they had been so helpful in the past.  I thought maybe they’d be able to get us on a plane pronto and have France wave the passport issue.  

Next “scene” I recall, I’m on a plane with Mom and Dad and some other fellow who was declared palliative  – and on our way without passports to France. 

Next scene is in a hotel in France and Mom looks great – she is almost revived.  Dad is still not well – the other guy is … worse.  I have arranged care for everyone (true) and then I think we all go out for dinner.  You know what happens when you wait to write down your dream – it just gets more difficult to fill in the pieces of action. 

I remember feeling so excited that the trip to France had helped my parents to get better.  

I woke up at this point and thought, “Wow, I’m having a dream about Mom and Dad.  They have made their appearance.”  

When I fell back to sleep I was on a plane going home … by myself.  But I was not inside the plane – I was outside on the nose of the flight deck.  I thought I was in trouble and would not be able to get inside.  The plane was flying very low over the ground but as it approached the Atlantic Ocean I knew it would have to climb to get out of the way of the waves.  I was splashed several times.  Television screens lined the ocean to give sun-bathers and swimmers a glimpse of what the ocean looked like further out.  I realized this part of the trip was going to get cold (it was dark) and wet and I need to get inside.  So, I did what anyone would do – I knocked on the pilot’s window.  He heard my knocking and was a bit startled. Nonetheless, I climbed down the side of the window to the ledge and the pilot opened his window to allow me to slide in to safety.  

What the heck?  

Were Mom and Dad in the plane too?  I don’t remember.  

I made it safely so that I could return home to Canada. 

Planes, palliative, passports, Paula.  Was this a “P” based dream? 

France, freezing cold, flights, father.  Or was this dream a dream of “F”s? 

Mom and Dad travelled to many places, but never France.  What on earth I dreamed that Mom wanted to go to France for?  Your guess is as good as mine.  

As for my flight home, well, it was no “dream flight”.  


Sorry this post was so random.  Just thought I’d share some of the confusion – my gift to you.  

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My 91st Flight

To date, I have logged over 2 000 flying hours.  Only two of those hours have been logged in my 92nd year!

Yesterday’s flight was spectacular.  There is nothing like being in a plane.  My son’s birthday gift to me was this flight.

Around 1:30 we (my son, and the Dancing Nannies who are now, I guess the Flying Nannies too!) headed out to Oro Airport.  By 2:00 we were in the air – well, the Nannies stayed on the ground. The weather was perfect – blue sky with only a hint of cloud to make things more interesting.

We flew over Barrie and also over the old homestead in New Lowell and Craighurst.  It is amazing how being so far above the scene one can see so much more.  It is remarkable how quickly the trees overtake space when left to do their own thing.

What a thrill.

Oh, and I flew the plane for a while! 

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God. 

  Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941



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WAG the Tail

One of my postings during WWII before I went overseas was in Bathurst New Brunswick.  

We were flying Ansons at the time.  There were usually four of us in the Anson and two students in training – making a total of six.   We all got to know each other quite well – sometimes too well. 

On one of our flights over PEI, my wireless air-gunner (WAG) asked me if I’d land because he wanted to see his girlfriend.  Of course, we couldn’t just land – we were working.   I said, “no”.  He wasnt’ too happy, but accepted and understood my decision. We had respect for one another. 

A bad habit we both had, however, was that we both smoked.  You have to remember that smoking in those days was much more acceptable as the hazards were not well known.  Everyone smoked.  And if you were in the Forces, even more of us smoked.  Anyhow, since even then cigarette smoke was bothersome, we needed to open the windows in the Anson we were flying.   My WAG opened the window so far it actually slid right out.   That wasn’t the biggest problem we had.  You see when it slid out it flew to the back of the plane and hit the tail.  It made one hell of a bang.  I didn’t know what kind of damage the window had done and, wouldn’t you know it, I felt the best thing to do was to land the craft.

I radioed in an emergency landing – guess where – Prince Edward Island.  The landing went well – the plane was checked over – but we couldn’t get back up into the air until the morning.  We didn’t know what to do with ourselves – so we decided to go downtown for a couple of drinks.  My buddy arranged to meet his girlfriend afterall.

We were back in the air the following morning – the plane was fixed and my buddy’s heart too.  I guess some things are just destined to be – with a little help from lady luck.

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Memories of Koggala Beach

Squadron 191 RAF was stationed in India on anti-sub patrol – that was my squadron.

Although I was hired to spot submarines the only thin I ever saw was water.

The water, mind you, was beautiful.

We lived in marquis tents only several hundred feet from the water front.  Even though the water was fantastic, we preferred to swim in the pool at one of the “exclusive clubs” RAF members were granted membership to.

Why did we not swim in the river?  Well, across the river was a pitch of burning ghats.  A ghat is a series of steps that lead down to the Red River.  A departed loved one would be placed on a float  in the river and then the entire vessel was set afire to cremate the body.  It was a very reverent service.  I could never get over the image of that cremation as the body – when it burned – would contract and sit up.  This is not one of my favorite memories.

It was hot there.  When we landed in Bombay on Christmas Day it was 105 degrees.  We sweat a lot and since we’d lose a lot of salt, we had to take salt tablets or a tablespoon of salt dissolved in water.  You’d just add salt to your water glass from a cruet – since salt shakers didn’t shake well in the humidity.

We also had to take methyl quine to protect ourselves against malaria.  These were little yellow pills.  When you sweat, the yellow would come out your body into your clothing.  Our socks quickly turned yellow.

There was once a tornado that came through and sucked up several of our aircraft.  We were able to salvage the auxiliary power units (AVUs) from the sunken Catalinas so that everyone had their own generating units.  We used these units to help light our tents.

We had to be pretty handy in those days and able to improvise.  Catalinas, the craft we so loved, truly “lit up our lives”.

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Funeral Parade

My Dad, Bill Duff, told me this story two months before he passed away.  I had never heard it before.  Thought it was worth sharing again.

My first experience with death was at the Service Flying School in Yorkton, Saskatchewan in 1942.

We were being trained to Wing Standard on twin – engine Cranes.  It was in Yorkton where I got my wings – and I always joked later to Paula that it was in Yorkton where my wings were also clipped (by Paula who grounded me with marriage).

It was noon the day I recieved my first lesson in the perils of flight.  Our bed was our home and I was having a rest on this particular day.  The Service Police walked up to my bunk.  I wondered what they were coming to talk to me about, but rather than talk to me, they removed the coverings off the bunk-bed below me.  I said,  “Hey, that guy will be back here – he’s just at lunch.”

He was not at lunch.  Little did I know he was never coming back.  Apparently he and his instructor were celebrating his going solo.  They flew into a tree and both were killed.

This affected me greatly.  I made it a point to find out where he was – he was being transported back to Oshawa his home area.  I didn’t know what else to do.

The living quarters in Yorkton Air Force Base were huge.  There were about 60 men in the barracks.  We all were assigned a bunk bed.  We didn’t spend too much time in bed as we were to busy training to fly.  Half day for flying and half day for ground school.  We became quite close all of us.  My buddy McKellar and I became best friends although I never had the opportunity to fly with him in Yorkton.

We all ate together at the mess hall.  The meals were very good – we were considered the top o the line aircrew and so we were treated very well. I remember the milk – for some reason that’s one thing I remember to this day – it was so good!   I also remember the meatballs, but for different reason; I didn’t like the meatballs as I recall.

We were in Yorkton together in training for about six months – it was my favorite place overall as it was in Yorkton that I met my Paula.

They always had a parade for the person who was killed.  And I recall my very first “Funeral Parade”.  I also recall the second Funeral Parade  for an RAF fellow.  He lost his life one night.  He had tried to out-fly a storm that was coming in – the rest of us made it in but he didn’t.  He crashed just north of the base.

It was during these moments that we realized flying was serious business and there was a real possibility that we might be killed.

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