[Received January 19, 1918]


No. 56 Training Squadron,

Royal Flying Corps.

December 23–24, 1917

Dear Mother:

I have been here nearly a week now, but there is not much of interest to report.

I had my second flight this A.M., fifteen minutes. I got a little better wised up how to make an Avro turn properly. The instruction is going a bit slow now because we have too many fellows all just beginning. When I get to where I can go up alone (solo) I will get along faster.

The life we lead here is a pretty lazy one. It is dark until 7:30 A.M. and unless one is scheduled for “early morning flying,” which is done from eight until 9, we stay in bed until about 8 o’clock. There is not much chance of one being listed for E. M. F. until solo time. After breakfast we get our flying clothes and go down to the hangars and watch the flying as we wait our chance for a flit. Usually we kick around a soccer ball for exercise and amusement. I go to machine gun class at 10:30 to 11:30 and 2:30 to 3:30. The afternoon is about like the A.M. Only shorter as it gets too dark at 4 o’clock. The machine gun classes are not much account. When we return at dusk we have tea and then sit around until supper at 7:30 and the same until bed time. I am cutting out the tea fest. I have taken a couple of walks before supper and read a bunch of magazine stuff about aeroplanes, the war, etc. Also scratch my head and make a few bum sketches of my own ideas when I can get my hut room warm enough to sit in.

I suppose you think that with all this time in the evenings I would be designing engines, planes, machine guns and all such things. Well I suppose I ought to be trying to, but it all seems so remote and possibly useless. I could not develop anything while I am learning and fighting, and I sort of look to peace times to bring the chance to work on and design aeroplanes. I am trying to get as much knowledge about the construction and characteristics of the various types, but am not collecting any positive data.

I think that the greatest development and refinement of all the instruments of war will come about 3 years after peace is declared. So many people who might be scheming and working out good developments are busy doing something else, and the few that are left in the industries are busy producing what has been successful and trying to increase the production under unfavorable conditions. I think that the machine guns, aeroplane guns, aeroplanes and engines that will be designed 3 years after peace will make this stuff look like old farm machinery.

When I come back to the states I would like to be an experimental test pilot for some pushing concern. Take up new machines and measure all sorts of pressures and stresses, see how she handles, and tell the designers what could be done to improve it. While doing that I could get ahold of all the most modern data and design practice, and then I would be in a position to make my own type of planes. There is no doubt about it, that aeroplanes are going to be developed and used commercially as much as the wildest imaginations now think.

There is some more development to the rumor that we are going back to the States as instructors. Orders seem to have come through that we will not be instructed here on any more advanced scouts than Sopwith Pups. It may mean that we will learn the American type of fighter in France or we may go back to the States.



Parr’s Pilot’s Flying Log Book indicates he had made his first flight in a dual-control Avro ([B]4240) with “Capt. Cairns” (Cairnes) instructing on December 19, 1917, the day after arriving at London Colney. He went up again on the 23rd with Lt. McEntegart to do left turns and make two landings. The next day his instructor was “Lt. Pigott”; they flew Avro B4237 and did five landings in bumpy weather.199 (See the letter of January 26, 1918, for more on Cairnes)