Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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I miss those sounds of engines "round"-- that rumbled in the sky;
Inertia starter's hums and screams--the prop blades flashing by-
The swirls of smoke as the engines spoke as they began their day-
The firings then-- more rhythmic when-pooled oil had burned away.

The throbbing cadence idle's made-- each plane sat in its space---
Instructor saluted cadet's salute-climbed into the fore-most place.
With chocks away the dance began with signals from the ground-
The roaring blasts as the throttles moved-- the biplanes turning 'round.

En masse we taxied toward the mat to await our turns to fly-
Upwind the air was turning black--as Stearmans filled the sky.
Three abreast we tore away with seats as high as they'd go-
Nostrils flared by the prop-blasts sting 'oer the windscreen down below.

Our goggled eyes took in the scene that our twisting necks allowed-
(The bouncing antics along each side)-- we climbed with the launching crowd.
Less wind in the face with the seat in place--when the "magic" height we'd reach-
The instructor's voice through the "gosport" hose spelled out what he would teach.

Only way to meet his eye was to gaze at the silvered glass-
And nod-or signal with our hands-- that his wish would come to pass.
When the "hop" was done and we'd had our fun, we'd head back for the base,
Like bees to a hive the sky was 'live-- as we droned to find our place.

Then one by one we'd start our turn when a plane was off our wing,
And down we'd go to the mat below and hear the brace wires sing.
With planes in front and planes behind and several more 'long side,
We'd strive to "hit" the mat just right-no side-slips in our glide.

We'd fan the rudder left and right as the tail-wheel did its things-
Tried hard to keep our course dead straight as the lift would leave our wings-
Then back to our parking place we'd go-- ess turning all the way-
Then through the "spot" to blast around -the "park" would end the day.

Then up the steps on the cowls ahead to that 'safety walk' o'er the nose-
We'd take a seat on the leading edge and await the gas-truck's hose.
When the tank was full-- reverse our course-- head for the "ready" room-
Where instructors wait to review our hop and speak with hands that "zoom".

Each day a test, but we did our best to fulfill what was a dream---
Though pressure intense in the discipline sense we were part of a worthy team!
In my old age I look back now-- with memories sharp and clear-
As if my life had stood stock-still-and the long ago were near.

Bill Woodall

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