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D.A.R. Day

Flight Lieutenant (D.A.R. Day piloting an Oxford at Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Penhold, Alberta. Home of No. 36 Service FlyingTraining School (SFTS).F/L) D.A.R. Day's story is an interesting look at the danger inherent in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) pilot training. A recollection from his time spent training in Alberta, the following excerpt demonstrates that a great deal of learning was done in extreme weather and by trial and error.

Because of the extremely low temperatures we were strictly limited to a maximum of 60 minutes in the air. I went off solo one day to do an hour's aerobatics. The practice area was southeast of the field and shortly after getting there, I noticed that the front canopy was sliding back. We always flew solo from the rear cockpit, and the first thing you had to do after getting in the plane was to stretch over the front cockpit to clip in the canopy fasteners. 

I must have done a poor job of this as both fasteners were now loose, allowing the canopy to work its way back. I tried, with limited success, to push the canopy forward by placing my hands against the sides. The front canopy was slightly larger than the rear one, so that it could slide over the top of it. This meant that I could not get hold of the rear edge to push it forward. Despite the fact that I was wearing an inner and outer flying suit and three pairs of gloves, wool, silk and leather gauntlets, I was getting colder by the minute, especially when a freezing cold wind blew in when the canopy inched back. I persevered for a while then decided I could not bear it any longer and turned for home. I then became aware of my second mistake, I had been unaware of the fact that there was a very strong wind from the northwest—although I had been flying for only about 25 minutes, it was going to take me considerably longer to get back, exceeding the one hour time limit. I was frozen solid by the time I eventually landed and it took me about an hour in the warm flight shed to thaw out.

Another phenomenon of the weather was the "Chinook" wind. Moist winds coming off the Pacific are forced up by the Rockies, the air mass dropping in temperature at the wet adiabatic lapse rate of 2.7 degrees per thousand feet. Having lost its moisture, it then descends on the leeward side, and the temperature increases at the dry adiabatic lapse rate of 5.4 degrees per thousand feet, effectively raising the temperature by 25 to 30 degrees. Normally, this brought blessed relief from the bitter winter weather buAirmen Joe Dawson (left) and Roy Day (right) practice target shooting, 1943.t, by the end of February, coming together with the general end of winter rise, it caused chaos. Instead of firm compacted snow, we had to cope with sudden thawing and the slush that came with it, only to revert to freezing conditions again by the following day. It all came to a head at the beginning of March, and to give the staff a chance to cope with these conditions, flying was called off and we were given three days leave. When we got back, the snow and slush had been completely cleared and for the first time we saw the grass surface, albeit suffering from months of snow cover.

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