Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents



Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents


Announces he has completed first solo flight and has received letters from home. Tells of several days lead up to first solo and describes flight itself. Mentions he went to town with his mechanics to celebrate and goes on to describe flying activity and the immanence of mid term examinations. Mentions a student being court marshalled for beating up train which unfortunately had a wing commander aboard.




Temporal Coverage



Seven page handwritten letter and envelope


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.




[inserted] Recd [underlined] 4th Nov 1941 [/underlined] [/inserted]






[page break]


No. 1330340. R.A.F.

CANADA. [inserted] [circled 5th] [/inserted]



No. 1330340 L.A.C. H.R. Madgett.
(Course 33)
No. 32 E.F.T.S R.A.F. Station.
Swift Current,

[underlined] 15th. October. 1941. [/underlined] [inserted] [underlined] Recd 4th Nov. [/underlined] [/inserted]

Dear Mum. Dad. Peter. Jock. & Tinker (& her family)
Oh boy, oh boy!! This has been my best day since I have been in Canada. First I have gone solo, and then I got a card & letter from you having not heard for ages.
I hope my first letter has not been lost, as I prided myself on its length, and included the trip over to here.
Well, lets get on with the news, the biggest item being my solo. I have just sent a cable & letter cable to that effect. Well, I had to have a lot of patience to get it because of the weather. On Thursday late afternoon, Oct. 9th.my instructor, Sgt. Smith said I could go, but it was too late in the evening and you had to take off right into the sun. So I was to have it on the morrow. But Friday the wind [inserted] was [/inserted] swishing along in a gale at 40 to 50 m.p.h., sending up clouds of dust across
[page break]
[underlined] 2. [/underlined]
The drome; this obviously meant no flying. Saturday morning we had lectures, but they had us flying on Saturday afternoon to make up for lost time during the week. I [deleted] had [/deleted]did a few circuits & bumps to get my hand in, and then waited for the commander of our flight, [underlined] F./Lt. [/underlined] Smith to test me: but as it was a Saturday afternoon he packed up early, and so had to wait till Monday. Monday morning comes along. I go up first thing for a flip round first thing & then my instructor gave the timekeeper a message that the latter was to tell F/Lt. Smith to take me up. It was 11.45 a.m. before [deleted] Flt [/deleted] F/Lt. Smith came down & what do you think? The timekeeper forgot all about the message. Was I mad at him! Even though it was a bit late – we knocked off for dinner at 12.30. So on to [deleted] today [/deleted] Tuesday afternoon. The wind was far too rough & bumpy for a test as the kite was not steady a single second. You were buffeted all over the place & the commander could not judge my flying very well. So I had to wait till next morning
[page break]
[underlined] 3. [/underlined]
Wednesday (today). I went up with Sgt. Smith first thing for a few circuits and the wind was marvellously calm. When I came down I waited about 1/2 hour for F/Lt. Smith to come down. As soon as he climbed out I asked him whether I could go. Although he had about half a dozen others he had to test on his list he said “there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go now”. So up we went. He [deleted] was [/deleted] [inserted] is [/inserted] a very nice chap. Before I took her off, he said he did not want [underlined] good [/underlined] landings but [underlined] safe [/underlined] landings. I said O.K. & would do my best. Actually, without shooting the line I have been used to doing good landings – i.e. what [deleted] to [/deleted] [inserted] are [/inserted] are called “pretty landings”. Occasionally, you make a bad landing if the wind hits you, but this is not often. However, I took off O.K. did a complete circuit, did a good landing, Then took off again and when [inserted] at [/inserted] about 300 feet he took over and did a short circuit which we are not allowed to do, and I took over again to land. Another good landing, one which I was very pleased about because when about 10 feet above the ground & from then on till we touched down he kept saying “nice, nice, very nice, thats it”,
[page break]
[underlined 4. [/underlined]
and when we stopped he said what a nice landing it was. Then once again I shot off, he took over, I took over and landed her. When we had stopped, he said “O.K.” “I’ll let you go alone”. And he gave a few words of advice – such as never hesitate to use full throttle after a bad landing & go round again or when you find yourself undershooting the drome. (These things have been drummed into us ever since we started flying). Out he climbed and when I had waited for a plane to get out of the way in front of me and also 3 planes landing near me I let her go, and did a complete circuit. In a circuit you have to climb straight up to 600 feet on [deleted] 2,100 [/deleted] [inserted] full [/inserted] revs. & then climb to 800 ft. on 2,100 revs. You then turn 90 & go across wind, then another 90 to go down wind. You then judge when to turn again across wind according to wind strength, & then a little more judgment is used when to throttle right back and glide down. I f your judgments were O.K. you should be able to land after doing a gliding turn into wind quite near the edge of the field. Actually
[page break]
[underlined] 5. [/underlined]
when solo, I had to use a little engine as I was undershooting a bit. I landed, turned around & taxied back to pick up F/Lt. Smith waiting for me. He got in, took off and flew about 8 feet above the ground to the hangers, and landed again. It would have been waste of time taxying the whole distance. It was strange having no head & shoulders sticking up in front of you, and therefore could see straight ahead when flying, and was easy to judge the relationship between the cowling and horizon. Also, the loss of weight in the front cockpit made the plane feel very light, and the nose tended to rise too much when landing. But it was good with no one to tell you what you did wrong. Not that you ever did much wrong – if you did you would not be [deleted] let [/deleted] allowed to go solo. So there you are. – that’s the whole story.
On Saturday night we are going down to town to celebrate with [deleted] the [/deleted] my plane’s mechanics.
[underlined] 16th. Oct. Thursday afternoon. [/underlined]
We are flying this afternoon, and am writing this in the crew room. I have
[page break]
[underlined] 6. [/underlined]
just come down from doing circuits and bumps with my instructor. Its not very nice weather for flying today. The wind is pretty bumpy & constantly changing direction. I hope to be going again later on solo.
By the way, after I had passed the solo yesterday, [deleted] my instru [/deleted] I went up with Sgt. Smith doing blind flying, and then he did some low flying. This is the most exilerating [sic] experience you can have. You race along skimming the ground, climb over telegraph wires, shoot up farms and make the cattle stampede. Officially we are not allowed to shoot up farms, or cars on a road or trains, because not long ago a pupil here decided to shoot up a [deleted] plane [/deleted] train on the railroad. But very unfortunately for him there was a R.A.F. Wing commander travelling in the train & was visiting the station. He had a Court Martial, but was let off with only 7 days C.B.! [Confined to Barracks]
Up to now only one of our brethren is off the course for continual air sickness, but five others have been ‘top-hatted’. i.e. taken off the course because they could not land. It is very bad luck for these
[page break]
chaps, and by the looks of things a few more will soon be top hatted.
On Thursday we had the mid term armaments exam, & today had an aircraft recognition exam, both of which I have passed. Tomorrow we have aero engines and airframes. We have a few more next week; but there is hardly any need to worry about them because before each exam we have a fair idea (sometimes a good idea) of what questions we will have.
Thanks for the addresses in Regina & Saskatoon. I shall be writing them soon when I have got my mailing list off my chest. The people I have to write to! I don’t know how I’m going to [inserted] do [/inserted] it!
Well, I guess I’ll finish now, but will write again very soon. Oh another thing, - please don’t worry about me flying. They would not let us up if we were not competent – so please – no more worrying.
All the Best, With Love from [underlined] Hedley. [/underlined]
P.S. They have just run out of gas – a fine state of affairs – so no more flying. Will be up again tomorrow morning.
[inserted] Armaments exam. result just out. I got 92% & was 10th. out of 86 chaps. a/c recognition got 50/50.


H R Magdett, “Letter from Hedley Madgett to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 14, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11088.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.