Army Check Rides
All WASP trainees (as well as all Army Air Corps pilot trainees) were required to pass 'ARMY CHECK RIDES' during each phase of their training. This excerpt, taken from "Winning My Wings" by Marion Stegeman Hodgson is one example of this sometimes terrifying experience.
| "When I met the lieutenant, his lips were
pressed together disapprovingly. I matched my steps to his long stride as we headed toward
the assigned airplane in hostile silence. He had me take off and head for one of the
practice areas, but already he was finding fault with every move I made. I didn't reduce
power soon enough. I didn't wait long enough to change the prop pitch. I went out too far
before making the first left turn. I used too much rudder on the last turn. Yap, yap, yap.
Picky, picky, picky.
I had to sit there and take it while he made sarcastic remarks. This man had the power to make me or break me, and it was obvious which he preferred to do. It wasn't fair! Clenching my teeth, I knew I was too tight on the controls, thus cogitating a deadly sin, but I couldn't help myself. I could not relax my hold on the stick. Even my feet were tense on the rudder pedals.
If I washed out, how could I ever face the people who had believed in me?...
Well, I wouldn't, by 'darn'. Not without a fight. But the way to fight now was to relax. Relax.
Figure eights, the unpleasant voice grated through the intercom. I nodded and performed. Climbing turns. Stalls. Spins. Forced landing. I did it all, the best I could....
But none of it was good enough for the lieutenant. He would have chosen a different field for the forced landing. I missed the point he'd picked out for my spin recovery. My stalls were sloppy. Everything was wrong. He criticized and swore and criticize some more, and when it was All over, I was trembling with exhaustion and defeat.
At least the landing was good. He'd have to give me credit for that! But he got out of the airplane without speaking, without telling me whether I'd passed or failed, and left me without even a grunt of farewell. As he turned his back on me, I felt tears sting their way into my eyes and I blinked. I will not cry, I resolved"
Marion did pass this check ride and went on to earn her wings and become a WASP! Her book, "Winning My Wings," that this excerpt is taken from, is an excellent source of information on WASP training.