Nicky Barr, an Australian Air Ace: A Story of Courage and Adventure

Nicky Barr, an Australian Air Ace: A Story of Courage and Adventure

Nicky Barr, an Australian Air Ace: A Story of Courage and Adventure

Nicky Barr, an Australian Air Ace: A Story of Courage and Adventure

Excerpt

Nicky Barr knew he was grinning; he couldn't help it. His exhilaration and freedom felt complete as the Tiger Moth responded to his every touch on the joystick. He could feel his throat pulse with excitement as the earth fell away beneath him, joyfully fulfilling youthful fantasies.

His breathing settled as he steadily moved the joystick forward, levelling the plane at 1000 feet. With his left hand, he reduced the throttle to cruising speed. Methodically, he rechecked the instruments, then flew towards the training area.

It was March 1940, and Nicky was undergoingk initio training —the ‘weeding out’ process—at Essendon Airport in Melbourne as part of his entrance into the Royal Australian Air Force Academy at Point Cook. It was only his third solo flight, and it was still exciting. Green fields and sleepy outer Melbourne suburbs went by down below, although he hardly noticed this incidental scenery, being completely absorbed in his own reverie.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of another Tiger Moth closing in on him. Curious, and just a little concerned, he recognised his instructor, Lou Lohse leaning out the front cockpit of the approaching plane laughing. In his hand, he was holding a wheel. With a shock, and after some pantomime, Nicky realised it was his wheel—the right one.

Nicky's impish grin faded. The fantasy transformed to gritty reality as he realised he was going to have to land the plane with only the left wheel. He was very aware that aircraft were considered to be precious. Damage had to be averted at all costs . . .

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