Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ephrata AAF Training

This excerpt, which I have borrowed from this site, (which is part of a history of his B-17 crew by Charles E "Chuck" Harris, it seems to be worth a read since it gives considerable insight into the training and eventual deployment of bomber crews) describes the usage of the Army Air Fields in the Great Basin. One can assume that Walla Walla AAF was home to B-24 training of similar scope. :

Phase training for all crewmembers included both ground and flight school. In general, ground school was conducted in the mornings and the crews then assembled for flying in the afternoon. It probably did not take long for the crews to appreciate that they were not flying with an experienced pilot. After graduating from cadet flying school, pilots received about two months of B-17 transitional training and were then assigned to phase training fields such as Ephrata. There is little doubt that the pilots proficiency was graded daily by the crewmembers. Bumpy or hard landings, less than smooth maneuvers in the air (particularly formation flying) was painfully obvious. The training at Ephrata did, however, enable the crews to get to know and evaluate each other and to start the slow process of integration into a smooth working team.

Flying at Ephrata became pretty much routine – some flights were navigational, a few included practice bomb runs but most were aimed at getting the crew to work together and to learn required procedures. All flights were limited to a specified area of Washington State. However, on one navigation mission in September, we "unintentionally" strayed and found ourselves looking down from a rather low altitude spectacular Grand Coulee Dam. That broke the routine! For me, it was of special interest since, since as an engineering student, I had visited the dam in 1939 when it was under construction.

I have spent this weekend surfing the web. Many things have come from this. I have discovered several sites of interest and have contacted a few gentlemen who have knowledge of wrecks here in Washington. I look forward to a few more accident reports from Maxwell AFB, since I requested a few this week...they should be here sometime during late December.

If you happen to be interested in wreckchasing, have information about one here in Washington State, or served in the military and might have something to add to this site, please, PLEASE leave a comment! I think opening this site up to other's ideas, thoughts, and information might be a good thing! Welcome all!

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