My Life as a Pilot - Webpage 10 - page 154 - 163

Flying in America

The air quivers with the drone of the motors. At least fifteen planes are over the airfield in Cleveland. Rolling, spinning, looping, practicing for the meet which will begin in three days.

I land. The taxi staff comes out. Right behind them is a man in horn rim glasses and a participant list.

"Colonel Udet from Germany?" he asks.

"Yes, First Lieutenant Udet."

"Among us you'll be called Colonel." He looks at me sternly.

"I'm sorry but I'm only a First Lieutenant."

"Well, let's agree upon Major," he indicates, tipping his pencil on the edge of his cap.

A pair of gentlemen in large checkered suits, reporters from the Cleveland local press. They want to see the "Flamingo," the famous stunt plane.

I show them the plane. "Here it is." They look at the machine; they look at me. The "Flamingo" is now eight years old and it was the first bird of its type. In its youth it was impressive.

"Oh, how interesting," the men of the press say. They are courteous people who do not wish to offend a foreign guest of the National Air Race.

I stay for a while at the airport and observe the training of the others. Dashing fellows! With their heavy, high horse power machines they soar about through the air like grenades.

It will be difficult to keep up with these competitors, I think. My little hundred horse power sparrow must fly like a falcon.

Above me the zipping of a racing machine. It rounds the pylon. At the same moment a white trail of fuel then a darker one of smoke erupt. The plane's on fire.

Go to pages 164- 175

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Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks