Prior to the establishment of the United States Air Force, there was an old Army Air Corps policy that permitted the wives and children of pilots (affectionately known as “Army Brats”) to have one flight per year, for “orientation purposes." Shortly after the end of World War II, I was assigned to Wright Field. I was unmarried and therefore was not encumbered with “brats,” Army or otherwise. I was dating a lovely young lady whose father just happened to be a distinguished “two star” (i.e. a Major General, wearing two stars on his shoulders).
On an early date, I asked Kay if she had taken her yearly flight. She said she had not but showed interest. I followed tradition and nervously sought the General's approval. With searching eyes, he interrogated me as to my flying credentials. He himself was the Chief Engineer of the Air Corps who had started to fly in wood and fabric airplanes tied together with baling wire. One of his major current concerns was overseeing the huge efforts of achieving supersonic flight. Satisfied with my surprisingly confident response, especially the fact that I was a “Green Card Qualified Instrument Pilot,” he approved.He added one bit of advice, “Continue to fly safely so that you may live long enough to earn a Blue Card.” He explained that a Blue Card was issued to General Officers to remind them that it was OK for them to fly if the color of the sky matched the color of the card.
Off to the flight line we sped. I performed the standard preflight check of one of the General's shiny AT-6 s, with Kay following attentively. She snapped my picture as I climbed upon the wing and then I found her comfortably ensconced in the back cockpit with parachute on and seat belt fastened. I think, “Hm, this gal knows what she is doing.” Start the engine and taxi out. Finish the checklist, clear with Kay, and off we go into the “Wild Blue Yonder.”
We cruised around on this beautiful, fall Sunday afternoon. We checked out a few familiar landmarks and the colorful foliage. Kay tuned in a local radio station on the direction finding radio. Over the intercom, she says “This is my favorite song.” As I recognize "Fly Me to the Moon,” I feel a slight shaking of the control stick. t's the standard signal for “Let Me Fly.”
After piloting the plane through two exquisite loops, in perfect time with the music, she shook the stick again, returning control to me. With her 30 minutes pleasantly flown by, we returned to Wright Field. As we touched down with the smoothest landing of my life, Kay murmured “Great job!”
“Where did you learn to fly?” She responded “Dad gave us all rides in an old AT-6. I was 17 when I last flew. Then the war came and we could not fly…until today.”
Back at the General's quarters, we enjoyed dinner, with Kay's complimentary report of our flight. Kay whispered, “Dad must like you. He told you about the “Blue Card.”
“On our next flight, I’m going to try a snap roll!”