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The flying controls consisted of the warping lever with an extension on top which was hinged to rock laterally for operating the vertical rudder. The rudder control could be operated independently or in combination with the warping lever. A vertical stick, operating in the conventional manner, operated the elevator. Two were provided,— one outside of each seat. Finally, on May 2nd, I was given my initial flight in an airplane by Al Welch. It was not, however, until May 6th that I took my first lesson with Cliff Turpin who was my assigned instructor, in which I rode as a passenger. The Wrights did not fly on Sunday, so that my lessons really began on Monday, May 8th. From Monday through Friday I was given 15 fights for a total time of two hours and one minute. I was then sent up for my first solo. Orville Wright was present to observe my first solo flight. He was sufficiently impressed with the rapidity of my progress and the fact that I made my first landing after spiraling from an altitude of 600 feet, that he flew with and gave me personal instruction many times thereafter, during the remainder of my stay. I have always felt it was the instruction I received from Orville Wright that carried me through my flying career without being killed. After our solo flights Arnold and I conducted our practice flights daily. But all was not work. We had the good fortune to be repeatedly entertained by the Wrights at their home on Hawthorne Street. This was usually on Sunday nights when we would be invited to supper and were served the best meals we had ever eaten. After supper, Bishop Wright, the father, Orville, Wilbur and all the guests would sit around the living room and hear of how the Wright Brothers started as boys and continued with their efforts until they actually flew their first airplane. The Wrights' house, as well as the bicycle shop is now preserved in the village of the Form Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The middle of June we were ordered to College Park. Here we found the field in shape and the necessary buildings and hangars erected,— but no airplanes. The first plane arrived and was put in readiness for flight on July 1st. The personnel complement of the base included Captain Charles F. Chandler, Commanding Officer, Lieutenant John P. Kelly, Medical Officer, Henry Mollineau, supervisor of technical repairs, and 15 Signal Corps specialists. Our first school activity was to teach Chandler and Kirtland to fly. Since both Arnold and I flew from the left seat, using the warping lever with the right hand, it was necessary that both Chandler and Kirtland be trained to fly from the right seat and operate the warping lever with the left hand. Later this limitation was removed by equipping the airplane with dual controls. Within a few days after the arrival of the Wright plane, the Burgess-Wright B was received. Starling Burgess, who was a great yacht designer, came along to pilot the plane on its official tests,— I was ordered to go as a passenger and official observer. We had only been up a few minutes when, while flying at a height of about 60 feet with me watching the controls, I suddenly sensed a slackening of speed. I turned quickly to Burgess and asked him to put the machine into a glide. Unfortunately he was too late and we went into a stall, slid off on the right wing, which was crushed as we hit the ground. The crushing of the wing absorbed much of the shock and we escaped with only minor cuts from the brace wires. The machine was returned to the factory,— rebuilt, and about a month later was again tested and accepted. Since living facilities did not exist at College Park for the officers, we were forced to live in Washington and make our trips to the field by train, of which there were several daily, by streetcar or by automobile,— if one were able to own such a luxury at that time. After flying became routine we usually limited the instruction [[page]] 96 [[/page]]
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