A Jewish Pilot in the Land of Milk and Honey — Part 9

I returned to Kfar-Yeldim 8 days after I left. I knew that a few glider-pilots who had a private-pilot-licence were advanced from the Wrona to the Komar so as to be able to get the C grade but none of them did and all of them damaged the Komar and almost crashed it. I therefore could not believe that Henenson would give me a chance and if he did how could I with so little flying experience succeed.
I found him with a group of trainees at the A starting-point. Henenson welcomed me cheerfuly and asked: ” Did you fly 5 hours?” and when he heard my my bashful answer about the half-hour which I flew he was very disappointed. I handed him the letter and he read it, then he read it again and finally, handing it back to me he said: “You read it. Maybe you will understand it.” This is what I read: ” To Henenson Shalom, I flew with Udet (this is how he always called me) half-an-hour. He was not very good but not bad at all. Best regards, Uri Breier.”  Henenson turned to me smiling and asked: “So were you not so good or not so bad?” I remained speechless. Actually Henenson did not expect me to answer. He turned to the men around and said: “Take the Wrona to the B starting point” from which he gave me a start.It was a 40 second glide. During the next 3 days I did 4 more glides from starting point A.
After these 4 days he ordered the Komar to starting point 0A and told me to get in and put the seat-belt on. The Komar had a wing-span of 15.8 meters, a take-off weight of 225 kgs, and maximum gliding speed of 140 km/h. Even from 0A starting point it made a glide of 30 seconds. Two days later the Komar was taken to A starting point and I made a glide of 1 minute and 15 seconds with 2 turns and a spot landing in the triangular designated landing field, same as a B glide but longer. Therefore next day I was taken to B starting-point for the same exercise which lasted only 1 minute and 10 seconds because I was flying too fast. Next  2 days I started from the same B starting point, doing the same exercise but using the correct gliding speed and did one 1 minute and 35 seconds glide and the next lasted 1 minute and 55 seconds.
Henenson then waited for a day with a stronger wind. It came 3 days later. On the first day I started again from B starting-point but with the stronger wind and my better handling the glide lasted 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Henenson then took the Komar and me to the C starting point. He explained to me that he wanted me to do exactly the same exercise which I have been doing until now. I performed the turns and the landing which lasted 3 minutes and 20 seconds perfectly but I still remember the feeling of elation which I felt after I was catapulted by the bungee cord from this altitude on the hill with a wind of 4 meters per second, it was a new sensation.
On the last day, September 11,1946 Henenson briefed me before start. He told me that he was going to give me a strong catapult with the bungee cord and since the wind is still strong as yesterday I would probably rise at least 50 meters above the hill. I knew that this strong wind was blowing straight against the hillside (it was a westerly) and rising  up considerably when hitting it and that I should use this dynamic wind-effect in order to rise with the Komar as high as it would raise me and maintaining gliding speed steadily, while keeping a slight distance from the hill – carry out long figure-of-eight turns along it. I was wearing a pilot-type parachute which was compulsory when flying a Komar. this sailplane had an instrument-board with an airspeed indicator; turn-and-bank; altimeter and variometer. All were metric.
I was catapulted. Henenson remained on the hill. He had a police -whistle and a white flag. The C grade is a soaring exercise of 5 minutes above the starting-point. I was soaring there, turning from the south end of the hillside to the north end while being careful not to be blown by the wind over the hill. just aside of it where the wave of wind which hit the hill lifted me between 150 and 200 meters above starting-point. 5 minutes went by and I was having a wonderful time, 10 minutes went by and I thought I heard a shrill whistle, I looked down and saw Henenson waving the white flag. Time to land I said to myself and proceeded to the landing. triangle field. I was never happier and set down the Komar 12 minutes after start. This was a beautiful C grade flight performed by a glider-pilot with only 30 minutes airplane flying who had never made even a scratch to the gliders he flew.
I received Grade A No.195; Grade B No.89 and Grade C No.37 in Palestine in the mid-40ies of the 20th Century.

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