The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991

By Michèle Levy; Alfred H. Mendes | Go to book overview

Appendix A

FROM A LETTER-DRAFT OF 1978:
"LOOPING THE LOOP"

My step-brother, Harry deSouza, who had been living in Long Island with his paternal aunts from 1914, had taken up flying and was a full‐ fledged pilot when I arrived in New York. He kept an open cockpit 2‐ seater rickety plane at Floyd Bennett Airfield and I had gone up with him on several week-end occasions, cavorting over Long Island at an average height of 2,000 ft. from Floyd Bennett to Montauk Point, and sometimes to Green Point near the spot at which the Pilgrim Fathers landed in the fabulous continent across the Atlantic. These outings were exciting, and, as I had done some flying about the Caribbean with the old NYRBA hydro-planes, I was able to see for myself that only these small open cockpit craft gave one a true sense of flight. From all points of the compass the land view lay open to the eye; to every delicate current of air the craft responded with dips and rocks; the sky above was a vaster canopy that I had ever imagined it to be; and when the wind was more turbulent than usual you immediately knew by the creaks and snaps of the craft that its fragility could in the twinkling of an eye catapult you into eternity.

One Sunday morning in November before I climbed into my seat, Harry said to me: "I'm going to strap you in as there is some turbulence above." He strapped me in, took his seat and in a few minutes we were airborne. The sun shone, the sky was blue, and the rush of air against our faces cold. I glanced down over the edge of my seat and sensed that we

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